Yankee Doodle Dandy

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German title Yankee Doodle Dandy
Original title Yankee Doodle Dandy
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1942
length 126 minutes
Director Michael Curtiz
script Robert Buckner
Edmund Joseph
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
production Hal B. Wallis
Jack L. Warner / Warner Bros.
William Cagney
music Ray Heindorf
Heinz Roemheld
camera James Wong Howe
cut George Amy

Yankee Doodle Dandy is an American film musical by director Michael Curtiz from 1942, which processes the life story of entertainer and composer George M. Cohan . The film won three Academy Awards, including James Cagney for Best Actor for Leading Actor. From the American Film Institute was Yankee Doodle Dandy elected in 2007 among the 100 greatest American films.

The title is borrowed from a line from the song Yankee Doodle and means something like "imaginary northern state booby". The film was shown in Austria under the title Zauber der Revue .


Washington, DC December 8, 1941: The United States has just declared war on Japan. On the same day, the famous Broadway star George M. Cohan receives an invitation to the White House . There he is received by President Roosevelt and tells him his entire life story.

Cohan is the son of an Irish immigrant couple. He was born on July 4th, 1878, American Independence Day . His parents named him after George Washington . The staunch patriot says of himself: "I think the first thing I had in hand was an American flag."

Even as a child, George performed with his mother Nellie, his father Jerry and his younger sister Josie under the name "The Four Cohans" on numerous vaudeville stages in the country.

At the beginning of the 20th century, after a gig, the now grown-up George met his future wife, the dancer and actress Mary. After a violent argument George has with a theater owner, the four Cohans lose their jobs and face financial ruin.

From now on George writes his own songs and tries unsuccessfully to sell them to producers. Only when he teamed up with the author Sam Harris did he manage to bring his musical Yankee Doodle Dandy to the stage. The patriotic play about an American jockey becomes a celebrated success and turns George into a star who becomes a personification of the American dream for people .

With musicals like George Washington Jr. and Voice of McConnell, he cemented his reputation as "the man who owns Broadway" in the years that followed. When World War I broke out, George volunteered, but was refused because he was too old by his late 30s. Instead, he sings to soldiers and writes the song Over There , which becomes the United States' victory anthem.

In the 1920s, first his mother and sister died, and finally his beloved father too. After 15 years of successful collaboration, George separates from his partner Sam Harris and goes on an extensive world tour with his wife Mary. Eventually he retires to his parents' farm and retires there.

While the young generation is slowly forgetting the former star, the latter increasingly feels a longing for the stage and the applause of the audience. One day he received a phone call from his friend Harris, who was in financial difficulties and asked him to star in a musical about Franklin D. Roosevelt. George agrees without hesitation.

Cohan's story ends here. The President thanked him for his many years of service to the country and presented him with the Congress Medal of Honor . George is touched and says goodbye to Roosevelt with the words: “You don't have to worry about the country. We'll rock the thing. "

Meanwhile, on the street in front of the White House, soldiers march to the sound of the song Over There in World War II .


The script was written by Robert Buckner and Edmund Joseph based on a conversation with George M. Cohan. The twin brothers Julius and Philip Epstein were also involved in the script. Many details and events from Cohan's life were changed for the film (his real birthday was July 3rd) or left out (his first marriage, which for contractual reasons could not be mentioned). In the end, Yankee Doodle Dandy was so far removed from reality that Cohan said after the premiere, “ It was a good movie. Who was it about? "(" It was a good film. Who was it about? ")

Fred Astaire was the studio's first choice for the lead role. After he refused, they chose James Cagney , who had danced on Broadway in his youth . Cagney, whose cast was personally supported by George Cohan, had mainly played gangster roles up to this point. Since he was suspected of being a communist in the early 1940s, participation in a patriotic film like Yankee Doodle Dandy was just the right time to prove his loyalty to the line.

Filming began on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor . The script was then rewritten and current events incorporated into the plot. The budget for the film was about $ 1.5 million.

Yankee Doodle Dandy premiered in New York on Memorial Day , May 29, 1942, and hit theaters nationwide a week later. George M. Cohan died just months later. It was first shown in Germany in 1996. In the United States, the film grossed around $ 4.7 million, making it one of the most successful productions of the year. At the Academy Awards in 1943 he was awarded three Oscars. When James Cagney accepted the award for Best Actor, he thanked you with the words: “ My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you. "(" My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you. "), As Cohan had always done.

In 1985, media entrepreneur Ted Turner had a colorized version of the film made, which premiered on July 4th.


  • For the Eddie Foy biography Comedy Children from 1955 (with Bob Hope as Eddie Foy) James Cagney took on the role of George Cohan a second time. Eddie Foy is portrayed by his son Eddie Foy Jr. in Yankee Doodle Dandy .
  • In Billy Wilder's comedy One, Two, Three , in which James Cagney plays the leading role, a cuckoo clock can be heard playing the song Yankee Doodle every hour on the hour .
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy was the first film to feature a living American President (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
  • The film includes the famous Variety headline “ Sticks nix hick pix ” from 1935.
  • George Cohan's sister Josie is played by James Cagey's sister Jeanne, who was also his manager. Cagey's brother William co-produced the film.
  • The film was dubbed in German and aired on April 2, 2006 on ARD. However, it has never been published in a German version on a medium such as VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray.

Reviews and comments

  • Lexicon of international film : “On the eve of the Second World War (America's entry into the war in 1942), the film biography reflects American self-awareness and sense of mission in the form of a lively musical; James Cagney, who was once not used as a 'tough guy', received an Oscar for portraying the lead role. "
  • Time : “ Yankee Doodle Dandy is possibly the most genial screen biography ever made. Few films have bestowed such loving care on any hero as this one does on beaming, buoyant, wry-mouthed George M. Cohan. The result is a nostalgic, accurate re-creation of a historic era of US show business. "(" Yankee Doodle Dandy is perhaps the greatest biography of all time. Few films have produced such an amiable hero as the brilliant, peppy, and sarcastic George M. Cohan. The result is a nostalgic and meticulous rendering of a historic era in US show business . ")
  • James Cagney : “ I don't watch any of my movies except that one, Yankee Doodle Dandy. That was the best. It had everything. I'm still proud to be waving my flag. "(" I basically don't watch my own films, with one exception, Yankee Doodle Dandy. That was the best. He had it all. I'm proud to have hoisted my flag. ")


Oscars 1943

Due to the state of war in which the United States found itself in 1943, the Oscar statues were made of plaster and not, as is usual, of nickel, copper, silver and gold.

New York Film Critics Circle Awards 1943

  • Best Actor Award for James Cagney

American Film Institute

  • 1998: No. 100 of the 100 best American films
  • 2004: # 71 of the 100 best movie songs ( The Yankee Doodle Boy )
  • 2005: Place 97 of the 100 best film quotes (" My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you. ")
  • 2006: 88th place in the 100 most inspiring films
  • 2006: 18th place of the 25 best musical films

National Film Registry


All songs by George M. Cohan unless otherwise noted.

  • The Dancing Master by Jerry Cohan (music and lyrics)
  • I Was Born in Virginia
  • The Warmest Baby in the Bunch
  • Harrigan
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • All Aboard for Old Broadway
  • Give My Regards to Broadway
  • Barber's Ball
  • Mary
  • Forty-Five Minutes from Broadway
  • So long, Mary
  • You're a Grand Old Flag
  • Over there
  • Nelly Kelly, I Love You
  • Off the Record by Richard Rodgers (music) and Lorenz Hart (text)



  • Patrick McGilligan (Ed. And Introduction): Yankee Doodle Dandy. Wisconsin / Warner Bros. Screenplay Series . University of Wisconsin Press, Madison / London 1981, ISBN 0-29908470-1 , 239 pp - contains the screenplay by Robert Buckner and Edmund Joseph, additional material by Julius and Philip Epstein and the original story by Robert Buckner (English)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ofdb.de
  2. Yankee Doodle Dandy. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used