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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #5 (From Yankee Doodle Dandy)

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Here is the Daily Dose of Delight #5 Forum. Please post your responses here. Recall that the clip is from Yankee Doodle Dandy and shows the opening scene with George M. Cohan and FDR. 

Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):

  1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer.
  2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response.
  3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer.
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1) Flags showing everywhere and talking about being patriotic and being in parades the pictures depicting different presidents.

2) Talking about how patriotic the Father was and would never miss a show or a parade.

3) I don't think it would have started as well with the parade because the guys talking about it opened the scene and explained what it had to do with the movie.

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1. There were flags waving everywhere, and even in the beginning of the clip when Cohan was talking with FDR, FDR says 'the Herald Tribune says you make a better president than I do.' and Cohan replies, "don't forget, that's a republican newspaper.'  In the second part of the scene, there are flags everywhere, a way to build up patriotic fervor.

2. The clip then goes into the father dancing, but as he goes offstage, he is warned to 'be back by 4:15." and he states, "don't worry, I/she will never miss a show."

3. I think we need the flashback at the beginning of the clip to foreshadow what is to come.

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What greater American dream than to be invited to the White House to meet the President? It shows Cohan as an older man at the opening and as he begins to recall his childhood it draws you into his story and life. I think the opening is perfect.

I never noticed the American Flag on his lapel until tonight watching the clip or if I did I had forgotten about it. I think the grand stair case he walks up speaks volumes of the White House, the butler welcoming him and speaking of the song Grand old Flag starts you right off in a Patriotic mindset. 

The part where FDR says "You Irish Americans you carry your love of country like a flag right out in the open" 

Or when Cohan says " I was a real cocky kid back in those days, a real cocky kid, a real Yankee Doodle Dandy. Always carrying a flag in a parade or following one." Doesn't get much more Patriotic than that in my book.

 I have seen this movie hundreds of time and am looking forward to watching it again this week. My sister Sherry showed me this film for the first time and she is the one who introduced me to TCM talk about movie knowledge she had it. I miss her every day, she passed away in 2008 and I know she would have loved to take this course.

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1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer.

The opening in the White House was specifically designed to form a basis for the theme of the film, that of American Exceptionalism. Up until Pearl Harbor, there were many Americans who felt WWII was a European war and that the U.S. should remain neutral and isolated from the conflict. After Pearl Harbor the movies were asked to lead the way from isolationism to patriotism. This film was designed to remind the American people what they were fighting for in WWII. The inclusion of paintings of past presidents in the staircase opening, including the last shot of George Washington, through the 4th of July parade in Providence, was intended to get the audience thinking about how America had grown from its early revolutionary birth into the great nation it was in the 1940's. 

2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response.

The initial conversation between Cohan and the African-American servant about the grand old flag and Teddy Roosevelt was intended, in my opinion, to show the audience how patriotism ran across racial lines and that we all could and should work together to protect our country in its hour of need. Roosevelt's appreciation for the patriotism of Irish-Americans similarly was designed to bring us all together to fight the common foe.

3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer.

The movie was constructed to take the audience back from then present-day 1942 to 1878 (the year of Cohan's birth) and then follow his life from the late 1800's, through WWI, and back up to the present. The opening sequence begins the saga and the closing scenes complete the circle, when Roosevelt gives Cohan a medal for service to America and Cohan subsequently ends up in a parade of soldiers going off to war singing Over There. From the title song of Yankee Doodle Dandy, to Over There and Grand Old Flag, the central theme is not just a biography of George M. Cohan, but a tribute to every patriotic American and the greatness of the country as a whole. As I recall from the dozens of times I have watched this movie, Roosevelt at one point says that the story of George M. Cohan was the story of America. A story of immigrants who came from all over the world to settle in and enjoy the freedom of being an American. This film was made to remind Americans what they were fighting for. The picture served as a shot in the arm to boost the morale of the entire country and steel them to the task ahead. Starting the film in the Roosevelt White House permitted the audience to be taken via flashback through the life of George M. Cohan and back into the present. The film had to start and end at the White House and subsequent parade finale to sell the audience on how they played a part of our great history, no less than Cohan, and that they had a job to do in the present to preserve and protect the country they loved just as Cohan had done with his patriotic songs.

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#3  The opening scene in the Oval Office brings the biography into current relevance.  Without the opening as is, you would be taken to the beginning of the biography without tying the story to our recent entry to war.  By doing this, the story brings modern day dilemma and patriotism to the forefront before crafting the biography.  Here we are, at war, how are we to feel about this?  We'll, since you asked, let me tell you a story about a flag waving, parade marching father who had a son on the 4th of July!  It's a grand old flag.....

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Casting the great triple threat, Walter Huston, as Jerry Cohan was a stroke of genius. He can match Cagney step for step, scene for scene, and song for song. Cagney does a wonderful job as the stiff-legged, patriotic dancer. (Although Cohan wanted Fred Astaire to play him in the film, Astaire turned it down believing he could not mimic Cohan's rather eccentric, idiosyncratic dance style). As for the other two Cohans, Cagney's sister Jeanne more than fills the bill as his equally stiff-legged sister Josie, (she looks like Cagney, dances like Cagney, and sounds like him too) and Rosemary De Camp, although 10 years younger than Cagney, fits right in in terms of looks. She delivers a wonderful performance as Nellie Cohan. The foursome is definitely believable as the somewhat fictitious version of the Four Cohans. 

1.Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc in your answer.

When we first see Cohan visiting the White House after his triumph as FDR in the musical "I'd Rather Be Right," Cohan is walking from Union Station to the White House in the rain. Cohan is a regular guy, who knows how to put up with the inconvenience of bad weather, and doesn't need to be pampered by taking a cab to visit FDR. After all Americans don't complain about such trifles, they get on with it, and don't allow things like bad weather stop them.

Cagney portrays Cohan as fairly humble upon meeting the President, despite his great notices for his portrayal of FDR. All of his attitude suggests that he is also self-effacing at the prospect of winning the Congressional Medal for his WWI song "Over There." Americans all do their bit, and don't expect to be rewarded for their patriotism and contributions to the country. It is our duty to each other and the country we love, and for which many have died.

Cagney is a bit overwhelmed at being at the White House, and casts his eyes over all he sees, covering all of the portraits of past presidents, including George Washington, as he ascends the stairs. He is somewhat in awe, but not overly so, because Americans are all equal, no American is above another.

Once Cagney enters the Oval Office (which is shown to be upstairs rather than downstairs) he is immediately with FDR, who does not rise to greet him. This is interesting because Americans were used to seeing Roosevelt always seated, or clinging to a podium in order to stand. However, in "I'd Rather Be Right," Cohan danced and sang as FDR. So the film, and the musical within the film, show the President as a man of normal ability, vigorous and ready to fight any foe of the US.   

The lighting in the Oval Office creates an intimate mood in which Cagney, who is wearing an American Flag pin, and FDR can reminisce about more peaceful times, and all of the wholesome pastimes and artistry of the American theater. Nostalgia for the old-fashioned ways is strong. 

Once the scene shifts to the Irish-American, hardworking actor Jerry Cohan, we are actually in those old-fashioned American times of patriotic Fourth of July celebrations for the birth of George M. In the streets flags are waving, and patriotic bunting is strung end-to-end. The people in the streets are watching a parade for the glorious Fourth. A band is playing "Three Cheers for the Red White and Blue." Americans are united in their love of country.

The theater in which Jerry Cohan is performing is lit by lamps, and the stage harkens back to a simpler kind of entertainment which satisfied American audiences in the 19th Century. We see Jerry clogging to an old-fashioned song, dressed like a cross between a leprechaun and a Pilgrim! Although the audience is appreciative, he wants to get to his wife's bedside, like a good, caring husband for his son's birth. Jerry and Nellie are Irish immigrants, proud to be Americans, whose son is born on the country's birthday and is named after the first president. Immigrants are proud of their adopted country.

2.Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response.

George M encounters the White House butler. Although he is a member of an abused minority group, the butler is happy to meet Cohan, the leading purveyor of American virtue. The butler remarks he remembers seeing Cohan many years ago, when he worked for President Teddy Roosevelt and still thinks the song "Grand Ole Flag" is a great one. The butler is privileged to have known so many past historical figures. Even minority groups in America can have a certain kind of privilege and love their country.

Cohan and FDR talk about Cohan's father, who ran away from home as a teenager to fight in the Civil War. FDR notes that Irish Americans are one of the most patriotic immigrant groups in the country. He says this in his patrician, Hudson Valley accent. Immigrants from the 19th Century couldn't wait to help their adopted country in time of need. Real Yankees appreciate the patriotism of immigrants.

FDR and George M talk about the fact that a Republican newspaper thinks Cohan (a Republican) is a better president in his new musical than is FDR (a Democrat). It doesn't matter what our political party affiliations are, we are all Americans with the same goals.

FDR points out that George M has spent his life telling the 48 states (Alaska and Hawaii were not yet admitted to the Union), what a great country this is. George M states that, at the time of his birth, Horatio Alger stories were popular. Horatio Alger was "best known for his many young adult novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through hard work, determination, courage, and honesty." All American values.

As he leaving the theater Jerry Cohan notes that he won't be getting back late for the next show because his wife , despite giving birth, won't hold him up. Nellie Cohan is a good American wife, and a real trouper! American wives support their husbands and don't hinder them.

3.Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer.

The sense of nostalgia for the old days, and love of country felt by the older men of two very different socio-economic classes for the same country would be lost. Depicting Cohan with the president first, elevates the film and its subject by showing the audience that Cohan, despite humble beginnings has risen to the top of his profession through hard work and love of country to receive its highest civilian award. We also lose the information delivered by the butler that, even those oppressed in American, love America. So if the film opens with the day of George M's birth we lose a lot of exposition which informs the viewers' attitude toward the story.

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1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer.

As Mr Cohan is walking up the stairs to the Oval Office, you see paintings of past presidents on the wall and at the top is George Washington. Once in the office I noticed that all the paintings on the wall were of ships. Even on the fireplace there was a miniature ship.

2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response.

The one line that stood out for me, was when FDR said. " That is one thing I admire about you Irish Americans, you carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It's a great quality" It gives the audience an understanding, that immigrants can love the US just as much as born citizens.

3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer.

Starting in the oval office felt as if something had happened. This commanded a private, after hours meeting with the president. They started with small talk, then proceeded. If the parade was first, it would have been more uplifting. You would have a sense of happiness. You get a glimpse of the Providence community on the 4th of July, coming together to celebrate with one another.

 

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1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer.

The scene’s opening, with Cohan’s walk through the White House before his eventual meeting with the President utilizes costuming and mise-en-scene to develop the nationalistic tone of the film. As he walks up the stairs, the walls are adorned with patriotic portraits of past Presidents, while Cohan himself wears an American flag pin on his jacket. Once in the Oval Office, the office of President is treated with reverence (even Cohan, a seasoned performer, admits he is nervous); FDR is filmed from behind so that the suspension of disbelief between the real President and the actor portraying him is blurred.

2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response.

The dialogue is very nationalistic in its focus as well. During the conversation on the staircase, the valet name-drops another iconic American President: Teddy Roosevelt. The play in which he saw Cohan perform was George Washington, Jr., another patriotic piece. Once in the Oval Office, FDR and Cohan discuss the President’s stereotypical love for the patriotism of Irish Americans, which Cohan claims he hasn’t lost. Cohan begins his flashback by citing a Fourth of July parade, filled with the very flag waving that the two men are discussing and the film as a whole is trying to promote.

3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer.

Opening with the scene in the White House creates a frame narrative, where the story that will bookend the biopic provides a modern context and relevancy for the film. It also provides an explanation for some of the film’s patriotic overtones; Cohan is the guest of FDR, and is looking to make a good impression on a man he admires. All of the flag waving that goes into Cohan’s account of his life, then, can be seen as a way of telling the story in a way the President would appreciate. Opening with the Fourth of July parade would eliminate this frame narrative, and might not have given the audience the same sense of relevancy to the contemporary audience.

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You can’t get much more patriotic than walking the stairs in the White House, surrounded by portraits of the presidents, talking to the butler, who mentions how Teddy Roosevelt used to sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag”. Then cut  to sitting with the current president, with George talking about his family’s history of patriotism, starting with his father running away to join the Civil War. George M. Cohan is not an opportunistic patriot, taking advantage of the current public sentiment- through this scene, his patriotism is inherited, from his family and his Irish-American roots (as FDR says). That really appeals to the audience- the flag waving is heartfelt, not fake. 

FDR says that Cohan “spent his left telling the other 47 states what a great country this is” and that Irish-Americans “carry your love of country like a flag right out in the open”. To the audience, Cohan is depicted as authentic, he genuinely loves and supports his country. That’s a person and a feeling they can get behind. 

Starting the movie with the meeting with FDR paints a bigger picture of Cohan’s patriotism- not only is he a “Yankee Doodle Dandy” due to his birthdate  (which was really July 3, not the 4th), but he comes from a long line of patriots who love their country. The dialogue between FDR and Cohan sets that family history- FDR saw them on stage, as did Teddy. The family was beloved by the public over the course of many decades. To start with the parade scene, you wouldn’t have the family history to gain an understanding of the impact they have had on society. 

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The film opens in the White House, which is probably one of the most recognisable symbols of American national identity. The walls are lined with the paintings of the American presidents who helped to establish the country. The fact that Cohan meets FDR, who at the time of the film's making was not only the president of the united states but a president who believed very strongly in national unity and sacrifice for the good of America, illustrates that no matter one's origins as an American, if you work hard and dream big, you will one day be recognised by the highest powers in the country for your individualism and determination. The 4th of July parade at the beginning of the movie clearly displays the American flag because this is the day of America's independence from British rule, a day that symbolises the start of the American identity free from colonial rule. The fact that Cohen's father is performing an Irish song shows the melting pot of American identity, as in the country is made up of people from many different countries around the world, but is united in its diversity. 

 

Right from the moment Cohan and the butler start talking it is a way of foregrounding American patriotic identity and figures: Cohan was in a show that featured a song (that sounds rather humorous and lighthearted, but not disrespectful) about George Washington, the first American president, and the butler has worked at the White House since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, who was known for his highlighting and embodiment of the American frontiersman and individualism. When FDR speaks to Cohan, who says that he was always carrying a flag or following a parade to do with American patriotism, FDR says that he's always admired the Irish Americans for their love of America and their eagerness to show this love. Cohan assures FDR that he still feels very patriotic about his  country. Cohan also begins his story by recounting an independence day parade, and saying that many more people would join the parade, and how optimistic everyone felt about America at the time, as that was the Horatio Alger era. Horatio Alger was an American writer who wrote YA novels about young men who overcame poverty and adversity and achieved great things through hard work, determination, courage and honesty: the hallmarks of American culture. Through the dialogue, you also learn that Cohan is to be born on the 4th of July, which further establishes his innate American patriotism. 

 

The fact that the film opens in FDR's office provides information about the central character of the bio-pic. He is clearly an important figure because he is meeting with the President of the United States. It also provides information about what time Cohen was born in and what time he is living in, which also makes the film more current for the audience who was seeing the film at that time, just as America is entering WWII. If the film had just opened with the 4th of July Parade, the audience would not have had as much information about what the film would be about.   

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1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer.

First, the clip opens up in the White House - more specifically with our characters ascending a long, grand staircase leisurely walking and talking effortlessly from the bottom as they casually reach the top. In the foreground, we see an aged Irishman, now an American treasure, walking alongside a black secretary. In the background, we see the framed portraits of distinguished forefathers of America lining the stairwell. As the scene cuts to the office of FDR, we see even more memorabilia of patriotism adorning the office. Items such as the American flag, portraits of past warships, wars and battles line his office. The aged American treasure, Mr. Cohan, although grey, still has a full head of hair, exhibiting vitality and youth. He sports an American flag pin on the lapel of his jacket. 

Second, when the scene changes to the flashback parade, it opens on a closeup of the American flag overlooking a street parade on the 4th of July. Children and families make up the onlookers of the marching band. The camera sweeps over the marching band and decorated soldiers to reveal shop signs that include that of a hardware and paint store signifying everyday America and a nod to the notion of grit, elbow grease and the rebuilding of something into improvement.

Third, as the movie audience enters the scene into the vaudeville theatre, it’s a sense of nostalgia to a time before the movie musical, creating a sense of sentimentality utilizing the orchestra pit in the foreground while watching Jerry Cohan’s performance. 


2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response.

First, as they ascend the staircase in the opening scene, the secretary and Mr. Cohan begin reminiscing about the great days of yore. Said the secretary, “It must’ve been thirty some years ago. I was valet for Mr. Teddy Roosevelt. He got me a seat up in the galley. The play was George Washington Jr. and you was just singing and dancing to all about the grand ol’ flag.” This quote stirs up a time in patriotism that was strong and served the sentimentality of the audience, causing them to reflect.

Also, when Cohan refers to it in the past, “Was a good ol’ song in its day”, the Secretary replies, “Yes sir, it was and it’s just as good today as it ever was.” This line implies that the national spirit has never wavered and has remained steadfast and true no matter the circumstance.

Second, another quote in the president’s office by FDR, “I can remember you and your family very well. It was while I was attending school near Boston…” This line brings in the reliability of the strong, important ties of the American family. Attending school near Boston, a rich landmark in the birth of America.

He also goes on to say “I hope you haven’t outgrown the habit. That’s one thing I always admired about you Irish Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It’s a great quality”. This line of dialogue open inclusion into all patriotic immigrants, but specifically the Irish that helped build America’s infrastructure. He praises the patriotism by comparing it to a flag, reassuring the audience that it’s a great quality to be had by patriotic Americans.

Cohan replies, “I inherited that. Got that from my father. He ran away to the civil war when he was thirteen. Proudest kid in the whole state of Massachusetts.” This line of dialogue also recruits that familiarity of familial ties and the family tradition of military and service. The line also ties in the feeling of pride and also the landmark state of Massachusetts.

“They were optimistic, happy and expectant. The beginning of the Horatio Algea age.” Again, almost a historic lesson of patriotism as he recollects a time by name-dropping Horatio Alger, known for his patriotic works of literature.


3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer.

I feel that opening with FDR in the scene provides an instant point of reference guiding the movie audience to the critical importance of not only Mr. Cohan, but his backstory and flashbacks as well. Had it open up on the 4th of July parade, the context would have seemed to be somewhat arbitrary in the timeline of the film and would have needed more time for the exposition to unfold. It would also not give Mr. Cohan the stability of the present tense of his location within the story.

(Also...just a side note...one of my favorite musicals!)

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  1. Describe how the scenes in today’s Daily Dose were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II. Be specific. Refer to props, set design, settings, etc. in your answer.    With just the title Yankee Doodle Dandy, just screams American values.  Other things President Roosevelt, parade, flag waving and the White House
  2. Listen carefully to the dialogue in these scenes. In what ways does the dialogue and/or the screenplay work to boost American morale? Quote specific lines of dialogue in your response.  The scene where the father needs to go back to work even if his wife if having a baby.  The dialogue between the butler and Cohen going up the stairs.   They were talking about the flag waving parts of his play.  As well as the scene between the President and Roosevelt on who made a better President.
  3. Since this is the opening of a biographical musical, how differently do you feel this film would be if it opened with the Fourth of July Parade scene in Providence, Rhode Island vs. the opening with FDR in the Oval Office? Defend your answer.  I prefer it in the Oval Office.  It help explains where and how he got to love tis country.

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I believe the line, "How's my double," spoken by FDR with his back to the audience asking this of George M. Cohan, is a movie device asking the question of the viewer even though strictly speaking, he is alluding to Cohan playing him on Broadway. At that time, Americans were uneasy.  They had been confident after WWI they were up and coming. Hence,  "I used to think I had all the answers," but Cohan isn't so sure now as when he was a "cocky" kid. "Right now," FDR also wishes he had all the answers, but he is certain that in Cohan, and people like him, immigrants, people who achieve the American dream in a rags to riches fashion, a la Horatio Alger, as referenced immediately in the flashback sequence "the Horatio Alger age," were the people who would win the war for America. 

This device of making the viewer/Cohan FDR's double/extension, compels them to do their part just as their commander in chief is doing. Following the dialogue as a compulsion to the viewer as FDR's double, he appeals to immigrants by commending Irish Americans' patriotism, and by extension, all immigrants who make America's population. There was an effort to bring immigrants into the movies where previously left out. Hence, the pride in country expressed by the butler, a Black American, who has crossed paths with so many greats in his role -- including Teddy Roosevelt.  Immigrants' service and pride of country is echoed as Cohan states that his father snuck away "at thirteen" to fight "in the Civil War," an important acknowledgment of the disproportionate services of Irish Americans in the Civil War who often were paid to fight for well off Americans. 

The dialogue is supported by visual cues, many of which have been well articulated by others already: flags, great presidents, column, the White House, bunting, the Oval Office, and even the fact that the Cohan's are playing at the "Colony Theater" in the flashback harkens back to the U.S. having first been a colony that had to win its' freedom in the Revolutionary War. The parade outside the theater foreshadows the later parades (I will limit my references to anything outside the clip to this observation). 

Lastly, having the movie open with a look back upon a great life reassures the audience from the beginning that like Cohen's life, the war will end well. In other words, we are flashing back through many struggles, but it all works out in the end by virtue of Cagney being there with FDR.  Opening the movie at the end of a hugely successful life, one the audience is supposed to "double" with, if you buy my premise that FDR invites us to double through Cohan's doubling, is a promise to the audience that America will get through this together.  Everyone doing his or her part, embracing the values that are identified as uniquely American, and never giving up regardless of how dark things may seem will bring us all through safely and triumphantly like Cohan.

So much is packed into this brief scene. That it is Cagney is all the more perfect in reaching out to all class, ethnicity, and manner of American. 

God, I love this movie --- and I kept my promise. I stuck to the clip at hand without going into everything else I love about this movie that isn't in the clip. "I didn't quite catch the name. Would you mind spraying it again...." 

 

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The settings including the White House and the parade all serve to promote a nationalistic mood- the Ival Office, Presidential portraits, flags flying, patriotic March music.  Intalking with FDR, Cohan makes clear his love of country  coming from his father and FDR backs him up with the comment about Irishmen living to wear their live of country like a flag.  I like the opening with the older Cohan as it sets the scene for the telling of the early years, rather than just jumping into the hio coldnturkey.

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1. As Cohan (Cagney) ascends the  staircase, he passes portraits of founding fathers. In the Oval Office, the walls are covered with references to Roosevelt's tenure as Secretary of the Navy in the form of paintings of ships and the nautical clock on the desk. The American flag stands sentinel near the doorway.

2. The dialogue begins with the butler and Cohan sharing how he had seen Cohan doing "the Grand Old Flag" number onstage as arranged by FDR's cousin Teddy Roosevelt. With this, nostalgia sets the stage in terms of family lineage and the lineage of patriotism. Actor portraying Roosevelt tries to imitate his Bostonian, elite accent and strident pacing which will become endemic in the radio Fireside chats during WWII. Cohan reminds the President that his family, though Irish immigrants, were patriotic from the time of the Civil War. The flashback however using the Civil War in the north (the side that won) as setting rather than his father showing patriotic duty. Again, all of the lines proclaim the lineage of patriotism throughout American history.

3. The scene sets the stage for the story to be told as a flashback. Since the country was heading toward joining the rest of the world in war, it should begin with a serious tone rather than a celebratory tone. The movie itself contains lots of energy and joyful song and dance numbers that will uplift the audience. But as a framed story (one that ends where it began) and in the context of the beginning of war, it moves from seriousness at the start to build up to optimism to preserve the democratic mission of the United States. We will not only survive but sacrifice to uphold our ideals and spread them throughout the world.

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The opening of Yanke Doodle Dandy present an almost reverent homage to patriotism in the portrayal of the meeting with FDR.  The walk to the office, flags along to way and his conversation with the butler that referenced Cohen's love of country.  The soft lighting as they walk to the seat of democracy in a way felt like he was approaching an alter.  Cohen says "Im a little nervous" as he shakes the hand of the president.

The flash back to the boisterous parade was effective in switching the tone from quieter introspection  to the story we are about to be told of the bigger than life story of George M. Cohen.

The American values that are alluded to in the conversation with FDR include family, love of country, the heritage of the "Irish Americans" who arrived in America to follow their dreams.  The biography begins with his father who obviously was a strong influence as he followed him into the entertainment field.  

As a dual citizen of Canada and the US (I have lived in Canada for over 40 years) it has been interesting being able to look at the US from the outside as well as the inside.  To say that this opening scene is bittersweet is an understatement given the current political climate.  Analysing movies of the past in the context of the political, social, and economics of the times adds a depth this course that makes it all the more interesting. It also allows reflection on how far we have come in some respects and how much more we need to learn.

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Again, don’t want to repeat too much what has been said, but would rather emphasize some themes and how they tie together

 

Unity: ethnicity, race, party and class. During the great migration after the potato famine Irish were seen as , well, white you know whats. Also, not every visitor to the White House would have been so chatty with a servant, servants were to be ignored. Yet Cohen talks to (is that the devil from CITS?) him as equal to equal, just as Roosevelt, as white shoe as they came, talks to his double, Cohen. Progressive values of egalitarian fellowship are on display. A humorous dig at Republicans shows slightly idealized lack of animosity between parties, especially as tempered by earlier admiring mention of progressive Republican, uncle Teddy. All men, regardless of attributes, are created equal and have something to contribute to America thru their... ...

Unity: work. Three human at their labor ( make that five with the flashback,) all contributing to project America  W are all each other’s doubles when working hard towards our common goal

  Unity: family. Again the Roosevelts and the Cohens, two very different families, working hard for equality, freedom and the pursuit of happiness  Also, 4th pictured as all ages, family celebration  Family as unity.

Unity: time. These ideals don’t come easily and sometimes the work that needs to be done  is fighting. In a few short minutes script unites natural-feeling references from Civil war to WWII.

Would love to have been able to see artwork in Roosevelt’s office. Prob. would strengthen themes mentioned.

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  1. The obvious answer lies in the fact that the opening scene is set at the White House with FDR. The very next scene, we see the flags flown in every frame of the parade. The images surrounding these scenes promote the idea that happiness can be found in patriotism. 
  2. “That’s what I like about you Irish Americans, you carry your love for your country around with you like a flag.” This simple sentence promotes inclusiveness among immigrants in the United States who can be made to feel “other.” Cohen also describes his father’s involvement in the Civil War saying, “he ran away to the Civil War at the age of thirteen. There wasn’t a prouder boy in Massachusetts.” This suggests pride in serving the US in war time. 
  3. Given the opportunity to open the movie in the WHite House helps focus the audience on the result of a lifetime of patriotism. If the film began at the parade, the plot would be slightly changed fusing at first, as the focus would be on Cohen’s father instead of Cohen himself. The movie would then have to switch gears at some point to portray events from Cohen’s point of view, while having to explain this significance. It is much simpler to give context for the plot at the beginning when possible so that the audience can focus on the story as a whole without being distracted by the worry of its outcome.
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1. Patriotism is literally and figuratively on parade. We see flags flying; we hear patriotic songs; There are paintings of former presidents; soldiers are marching to supportive and cheering crowds. We're in this together. The movie is pushing a sense of unity.

2. George Cohan refers to the "Grand Old Flag."  He mentions that his family committed to this nation during the Civil War. He reflects the immigrant journey to a better life in American. His Irish heritage and allegiance to the USA is evident in the words of FDR. We hear FDR mention "Horatio Alger" - the classic "rags to riches" story reflecting the possibilities that American presents to its citizens. The fact that FDR is meeting Cohan 1:1 symbolizes the connection and bond between the government and the citizens who are on the same page as we move into war.

3. The flashback allows the patriotic story to build. A parade almost seems like the culmination or end. We need to get to the point in the journey where we want to be part of the parade...where we believe in what decision are made regarding war...where we back our soldiers and support the decisions that will effect us all. If we started with the parade we would be denied the patriotic journey.

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1. You can't get much more American than the White House. Much of the dialogue was about flag-waving and being a proud American. In the Oval Office, you see images of powerful Navy ships in models, paintings, and the clock on Roosevelt's desk. You see the flag and paintings of our founding fathers on the wall going up the staircase.

2. Once again, the dialogue is about patriotism and showing it. Roosevelt also brings up Irish Americans, to help promote diversity and acceptance of immigrants and what they bring to this country.

WH Assistant: "And you was just singing and dancing to all about the grand old flag. Mr. Teddy used to sing it in his bathtub."
Cohan: "It was a good old song in its day."
WH Assistant: "Yes sir, it was and it's just as good today as it ever was."

Cohan: "A regular Yankee Doodle Dandy. Always carrying a flag in a parade or following one."
Roosevelt: "I hope you haven't outgrown the habit."
Cohan: "Not a chance."
Roosevelt: "That's one thing I always admired about you Irish Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It's a great quality."


3. The first scene being in Oval Office gave historical perspective and the importance Cohan had in our history and how important America was in Cohan's life. It allowed for the rest to be a reflection back on his life.

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The patriotism hits you in the face in this film: the waving flags and the parade and the marching music. How could you not be inspired? When Cohan travels though the White House he is nervous and awestruck. Just like you would be in the presence of such historical grandeur. It's a great scene.

The dialogue - the White House butler praising Cohan and his family: the importance of continuity and shared memories and tradition in the USA. "Irish Americans carry their patriotism right out in the open."

That opening scene is so necessary. It bookends the film and it's a good way to segue into the story instead of just "boom!" There's also a sense of suspense because you really don't know why he's there. 

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l saw the short on Yankee doodle dandy l think that it did not get though in that one clip what you real want to show america at it best we saw Cohan talk to the president and a short part of the parade but he message to me did not get though And the whole think did not play right. The movie thought when you see the whole movie is one big  ad for the great USA and to buy War bonds and to stand by America and the war effort. So you really have to see the whole thing to appreciate  Donna

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The scene portrays “we’re all in this together” patriotism with the displays of patriotism by the African American and the Irish American. Two groups that were/ are subjected to racism and oppression. They also mentioned that even though he is Irish American, his ancestors fought in the civil war, reinforcing how “American” he is.  The images of the flag, the long impressive staircase with the presidents reinforce American values visually.

As others have quoted, the dialogue reinforces American values of patriotism: flag waving/pride, assimilation, and hard work. 

I feel opening with the parade would be confusing, as the scene in the presdent’s office serves to set up the whole movie. It tells us this man is important enough to meet the president, so we should be interested in his life. He’s a patriotic and hard working man, and to be admired. 

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When Cohen enters the Oval Office, pictures on the wall are all of ships. I believe that war bonds are trying to be sold to build ships. Being born on the Fourth of July was the reason why Cohen was so enthusiastic about showing audiences how important patriotism was to him and how it should be for America. 

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