1.) American patriotism is everywhere in this opening scene. To begin with, George walking side by side with an African American butler, not equals, but somehow you feel they are. They’re walking up a staircase lined with prominent American presidents. Implying our noble and patriotic beginnings. Once George enters the Oval Office there is a hushed awe as if George had just entered a scared place. Then, the flags. There’s that ever present flag over the characters shoulder and how the scene progresses with wall to wall flags during the flashback of the parade. All of these images point to America’s greatness and heroic past, there are even paintings of major ships lining the walls, emphisising our greatness at sea.
2.) I cant find any specific lines, but in general there is conversation about family working together, running off to join the army to contribute in whatever way one can. How ethnically diverse groups added to the moral of the country. There is however an exchange between Cohan and Roosevelt that makes the president seem like the Everyman, “Why I was told that you knew all of the answers.” “There was A time I thought so, right now I wish I did.” “Yes, So do I.” In that brief exchange the audience gets to see and hear Roosevelt admit that he doesn’t have all the answers , he’s one of “us” leading a country into war still trying to find the answers. But he is still a great leader.
3.) A biography is a biography, birth, life’s accomplishments, death, cut and dry and sometimes boring. But . . . If you start your biography, with the person being scrutinized at either their lowest lows or their highest heights, that grabs the audiences attention. Most movie goers at that time probably knew the famous George M. Cohan, (yankee doodle dandy). Not many may have known of his meager background. By starting this biopic with the Fourth of July parade you hit the audience full in the face with the good old red, white and blue, over and over and over again, overkill in my opinion, no place to go. It was done that way any number of times. The audience however with the nervous presidential meeting is being set up to eventually see that from small starts, great things can happen. There is much more to build from that scene and a patriotic and moral boosting musical unfolds. They know who George M. Cohan is and they know he reached the White House, now they want to know the “how”.