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

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1)This movie is framed perfectly. It opens in 1942 with Cohan invited to the White House by President Roosevelt, that is a top honor even in today's measures. As Cohan ascends the stairs, he admires the portraits of former Presidents. He speaks to the valet who tells him that Teddy Roosevelt loved his song "It's A Grand Ol' Flag". Viewers immediately starts to feel a sense of national pride and what it means to be an American. The flashback scene takes us back to July 4, 1878 , the day Cohan was born. We witness a celebratory parade with flags, soldiers and marching bands. Testament to national pride even after the Civil War.

2) The initial conversation on the staircase was intentionally designed to let us know that African Americans also shared in national pride despite difficult times.The dialogue between FDR and Cohan shows mutual respect and acknowledgement of intense patriotism...."you spent your left telling the other 47  states what a great country this is." FDR adds that Cohan's Irish ancestry "carry your love of country like a flag right out in the open". I think that viewers of different backgrounds could get the message that regardless of cultural ancestry we are all Americans. A message we desperately need today.

3) The meeting with FDR sets the story of Cohan in relation to his patriotism. it's just not a bio pic. It allows for Cohan to tell his family history, patriots who sang and danced their nationalism on stage. In that way, we can truly understand why the most courageous, honorable President we EVER had ...would in turn honor a hero like our Yankee Doodle Dandy.

I am typing this as I am listening to a PBS program on the Roosevelts. They're broadcasting  several FDR's speeches. It is so fascinating to hear his actual voice as I write about him.  Sonia Fuentes

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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.

Well, at the beginning of the scene, we open up with the main character of George M. Cohan coming to the White House to meet the President. Right away, the audience is introduced to the two most significant symbols in America. The White House, which is represents our country's freedom and sense of democracy. And, the President himself, which represents not only leadership but the consciousness and affirmation of the American people. Pretty good setup so far, huh? As the scene progresses, we see George having a conversation with the butler about the good old days as he shows him to the Oval office. Along the way, we see the paintings of past Presidents on the wall which represents our country's past victories and achievements and that we as a Americans should take pride in how far our country has progressed even with the threat of impeding war looming at our doorstep. When George finally arrives at the Oval office to meet the President, we can see that he wears an expression of reverence and gratitude as he shakes the President's hand. This not only represents his own sense of honor at having the privilege of meeting the President, but also is a visual representation of how all Americans should treat the President with honor and respect despite our own personal viewpoints and affiliations. We also notice that George displays the pride he has in his country by wearing an American flag pin on his lapel which shows that as a Americans, we should not only take pride in our country, but also not be afraid to express it openly. As we watch the scene progress, we are led into a conversation held between the President and Cohan as they both express not only their own achievements but also their love of country and how they've both managed to make an impact in it despite their different backgrounds. Both being quintessential examples of how the American dream of success can be achieved whether you're placed at the bottom or the top. At the height of their conversation, we are then led into a flashback as Cohan discusses the beginnings of his humble origins on the day of a fourth of July parade where his father was putting on a performance while eagerly waiting for the arrival of his son. His excitement heightened not only by the prospect of being an expectant father, but also by the fact that as an Irish immigrant, his son has the privilege of being born in a country like America. Which is another visual representation of how we as Americans should be thankful that we have the privilege and opportunity to live in a country like America despite our origins or backgrounds. All of this in culmination with the biographical content, is a perfect way to not only open the beginning of the story, but also to boost audience moral with an extraordinary sense of patriotism and national pride right from the get-go.


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.


Roosevelt: "That's one thing I've always admired about you Irish Americans. You carry your love of country just like a flag, right out in the open. It's a great quality."


Cohan: "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 ."


Not only is dialogue patriotic through and through, but also reinforces the idea of unity and pride in serving your country whether it be contributing through work or military service. Everyone's efforts were important. Roosevelt's statement about Irish Americans was a way to promote diversity and inclusion on the part of all immigrants living in America at the time. To emphasize the fact of what they contributed to the economy and how proud they were to be able to have the opportunity to do so. Cohan's statement also emphasizes this fact as well too. That the love he conveyed for his country was something that was instilled in him from an early age and also stemmed from his father's pride in contributing and serving his country through military service. Which was another perfect way to boost the audience's morale since America was going into the war at the time this film was released.


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 opening scene with Cohan meeting Roosevelt was very important because it establishes who Cohan is as a person and what he contributed to American society during his lifetime and how influential it really was. If the film were to open at the parade scene it would've taken the audience a lot longer to figure out what was going on and who Cohan essentially was. 

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1. We don’t even need to enter the Oval Office before we feel patriotic, passing all those presidential portraits as we climb the stairs with Cagney.  What struck me inside the Oval Office was the proliferation of nautical props.  The walls are covered with paintings of ships in battle, there’s a model ship on the mantelpiece, and the president has a nautical-looking clock on his desk.  All of these ships far pre-date WWII, but are reminders of past American victories in battle.  And, of course, there are flags everywhere: waving everywhere in the flashback, standing in a stately manner in the corner of the president’s office, and even pinned to George M’s lapel.

2. When George M comments that “You’re a Grand Old Flag” was a “good song in it’s day”—it’s “day” being WWI (you know, the war we already won)—the White House gentleman responds, “...and it still is today, good as it ever was!” (You know, just like the USA is, good enough to win another war).  

3. The frame supplied by this scene gives context to the film, not only introducing the man who is the focus of the story, but also introducing the themes of the film.  Had it begun with the parade and the voice-over remained, it would have seemed awkward (who is this person talking to and why?). Had it begun with the parade and left out the voice-over, the audience would take a while to find the focus of the film.  As a child and young man in the film (sorry for leaving this particular scene), Cohan is portrayed as brash and arrogant and the audience could take a while to warm up to the character.  However, because of the frame, viewers know that although Cohan begins with those flaws, he ends up a successful yet humble man whose accomplishments lead him to a seat a few feet away from the president.  

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When the scene opens with the two men walking up the stairs to the Presidents Office, you see the previous President portraits hanging on the the walls of the stair way. As George Cohan is walking up the stairs looking around, you get the feeling he is in awe and humbled that he is visiting with the president. The length of the staircase leading up to the president can relate to anticipation of the meeting. 

The dialogue between the butler and George Cohen, his praise for Georges family. When the butler mentioned how Mr Teddy would sing the song in the bathtub. The Simple story of George talking about his father " He ran away to the Civil War at the age of 13. There wasn't a prouder boy in Massachusetts " There was a sense of pride to have served in such a war. 

I don't think the movie would have had that same patriotic undertow. By starting the film in the Presidents office, it sets the tone for the movie, and the patriotism for the flag waving and immigrant pride, referred to by the President. 

Ive seen this movie many times, I wish part of the clip showed Mr Cagney dancing down the stairs ...

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1. All of the little details promote America and America's ideals, from the large pictures of the presidents on the walls and the flags scattered about to the pictures of classic war ships on the walls, and of course the entire 4th of July parade. The pictures honor the past, what our Founders established, and the large rooms represent freedom as well as inspire awe.

2. The dialogue praising Irish Americans, a group highly bullied by the Nativist party in America's early years, "that's one thing I've always admired about you Irish Americans - you carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. Its a great quality," reflects the effort to unite all Americans together for the war and boost the patriotic effort, as well as the friendly conversations between the black butlers and Cohan. Things in the dialogue also reflect family values and things passed down over time, like the vaudeville tradition (and war-time involvement) through the Cohan family, the American values, and how Cohan's songs "were as good now as they were back then." The cinematography also lends to creating an approving atmosphere of America and all that it stands for, because we never see FDR's face, and that added to FDR's deep voice and Cohan's humility and nervousness when talking to him openly, like a confidante, and telling his story, makes for a God-like feel, as though Cohan were telling his story to the old and wise, loving God.

3. This opening creates a unique way of connecting the president with the people, and brings the president right into, if not their homes, their theaters, up close and personal. It is more like a conversation than an advertisement, and makes Cohan seem more like a real person than if the story started the story at the parade and his birth. It also provides a reason for the story to be told, and when Cohan states that he learned many things, the audience looks for a moral or point to the story, a lesson he took away from his life and will tell the president. Starting at the parade would be another cookie-cutter beginning to a movie and very transparent as a patriotic movie, and even though it continues to be so with the beginning and end scenes, the opening in the office gives more of a justification and meaning to the patriotic sentiment, a believable opening to the telling of the story of one man's life.

(And I will also add that just for the fun of it, without the oval office scenes, there would be no spectacular ad-libbed tap dancing descent down the stairs!! James Cagney really knew how to do it right, folks) 

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I’d just like to mention that the cinematographer on Yankee Doodle Dandy was the incomparable James Wong Howe. I’ve read a few remarks herein that mention the interesting use of light and shadow, and that’s Howe all over. He earned the nickname “Low-Key Howe” because of his penchant for keeping lighting low and intimate, even moody, and he did it to stunning effect. He started working in silents and kept at it into the 1970’s. Take a moment to think about how difficult it was for minorities working in Hollywood in the 20’s and 30’s; heck, not to mention the 70’s. Add to it the fact that he married a white woman in 1937, having traveled to Paris to do so because of the California law prohibiting interracial marriage. This law was not abolished until 1948, and because of this, coupled with Howe’s Chinese traditionalism, the couple lived in separate apartments in the same building rather than live together. He was nominated for the Oscar for our film and six others during his career, winning for The Rose Tattoo (1955) and Hud (1963). Howe worked on nearly 150 films (including a few which he directed), among them some real gems. In addition to Yankee Doodle Dandy, some of my favorites include: The Thin Man (1934); The Prisoner of Zenda (1937); Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940); Passage to Marseille (1944); Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse (1948); Come Back, Little Sheba (1953); Picnic (1955); The Old Man and the Sea (1958); Bell, Book and Candle (1959), Howe’s first foray into Technicolor; The Last Angry Man (1959); Hud (1963); The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968). Howe also was a pioneer in the use of deep perspective, though the originator of the technique was Gregg Toland. Howe influenced the great Haskell Wexler. 




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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 the film with Cohan's visit to the Oval Office sets expectations for the film/Cohan's life. Audiences in 1942 likely didn't need an introduction to who George Cohan was, but luckily for modern audiences, who probably never realized the cheesy flag-waving songs we hear every Fourth of July and Memorial Day were once totally-not-ironically popular hits, Curtiz had the foresight to begin the film like this. Not just anybody gets to have a one-on-one session with the President, so right off the bat we establish that Cohan is Big Time Stuff not just on Broadway, but for the country.

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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.
  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. 

First scene location is the White House 9:00 in the evening.  Cohan is being escorted by a knowledgeable valet up the imposing staircase lined with presidential portraits through the double doors into President Roosevelt’s office.  Roosevelt has characteristically decorated the Oval Office with nautical paintings and memorabilia symbolizing the oceans surrounding  the countries of the world at war.  The audience views Cohan from the same point of view as the president. Roosevelt’s back is to us  and he is seated at a desk crowded with paperwork.  It is a solemn location mostly in shadow illuminating by a desk lamp.  We know that it is here that the weight of war resides and the fate of people throughout the world is being determined. 

From this intimate scene we travel back in time to a Main Street in Providence on a beautiful bright July 4th afternoon where townspeople are happily gathered flying the patriotic Stars and Stripes to celebrate America’s independence from tyranny.  Inside the vaudeville theatre Papa Cohan is performing his plucky Irish jig.  From backstage we learn that George M. Cohan is getting ready to be born.


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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 Cohan climbs the stairs at the White House, paintings of past presidents can be seen. In FDR’s office the walls are lined with paintings of ships and there are models of ships, as well. Cohan is wearing a flag lapel pin. The Fourth of July parade is replete with waving flags, and men dressed in solider uniforms.

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 references to the flag, Yankee Doodle Dandy, the patriotism of the Irish-Americans (who were often depicted as being wholesome, family-oriented, and loyal to their country), Cohan’s description of himself as cocky (which I read as the kind of self-confidence often associated with Americans), and Cohan’s reference to his father “running off to join the Civil War” as a young adolescent all carry overt patriotic themes.

White House butler recounting how had seen Cohan in a play: “You were singing and dancing about the Grand Ole Flag. Mr. Teddy used to sing it in his bathtub.”

Cohan to FDR: “I was a pretty cocky kid in those days, a pretty cocky kid. A regular Yankee Doodle Dandy, always carrying a flag in a parade, or carrying one.” 

FDR to Cohan: “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.”  

I don’t recall the exact quote, but the reference to Horatio Alger was also interesting. Alger often wrote about impoverished youth who worked their way out of poverty. That could be seen as echoing the “American Dream” in which anyone could “grow up to president” or at least, succeed in life.  

Cohan’s reply: “I inherited that. Got that from my father. He ran away to the Civil War when he was thirteen.”


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.

Flashbacks have often been used in biographical films. On the one hand, opening with the parade would be a very obvious nod to patriotism. However, to open with a scene that included FDR was a wise idea and I think more effective for what the film was striving to achieve. The scene with FDR would definitely have resonated with audiences of that time period, considering FDR was the president at that time and was leading the country into war after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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1. As far as props go, there was one thing that really jumped out at me in this scene - flags! And, of course, being in the White House, there are model ships and portraits of former presidents scattered about. Also, the way Cohan and FDR are talking - the warm way they speak about the country - gives us an idea that what we're listening to is a cause well worth supporting.

2. The president comments on Cohan's Irish-American sense of patriotism, and Cohan is quick to mention that he owes it to his father. As young boys tend to look up to their fathers and what they stand for, this tells the audience that pride in being an American was not only something passed down through generations, but also that it was a quality deemed respectable. 

3. Starting in the White House would let us know right away that we're dealing with an important man, that he must have done something so big that it would lead to his being a guest in the president's home and the nation's capitol. It also gives the movie a more reflective mood, knowing that we're looking at something in retrospect, instead of watching it happen in real time. 

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One thing I noticed in this clip, even more obviously than the flags, was the nautical theme of the Oval Office. I wonder if it had something to do with the first day of production being the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even though World War II was fought in the air and on the ground as much as it was on the seas, a naval attack would have been in peoples' minds - and, they would hope, on the president's mind. Also, heading up the stairs at the White House, there are lots of portraits of presidents, establishing a sense of American history.

The dialogue also bears out the patriotism in this musical. For example:

Cohan: "Always carrying a flag in a parade, or following one."

Roosevelt: "I hope you haven't outgrown the habit."

Cohan: "Not a chance." 

Roosevelt goes on to praise Cohan's Irish roots.

This dialogue shows the depths of Cohan's patriotism, and the fact that, even though his family isn't from America, he's uniquely and solidly American. Having Roosevelt, from a much more "established" American family (i.e., a family that had been in America for several generations), praise Cohan, the child of an Irish family that isn't as "established" as the Roosevelts, shows that the president values everybody with American values, whether their families have been in America for a long time or not. This is important when trying to recruit soldiers and drum up support for a war. Cohan acts as the everyman in this scenario - and every person can do their part to help the country. 

I really like the opening in the Oval Office, because it establishes a time and gives some context for why we should care about the action. It also helps establish Cohan as a real person and ties him to the president, which gives his story some weight. Framing a biopic like this is pretty common, and it is a good technique because it establishes who the movie is about and, often, why we should care about this person's life. 

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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.

We start with George M Cohan making a visit to the White House and he meets with then President Roosevelt.

We see the wheel chair the FDR had to use as his health began to deteriorate.

Parade with flags and music emphasizing patriotism of the past that will be needed again. 

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 voice of FDR sounds authentic even though we only see the back of the actor's head. The voice after all was distinctive as many Americans listened over the radio especially on that day in December of 1941 when President addressed the nation about the bombing of Pearl Harbor leading America into World War II. 

The conversation ensues and we are taken back to the roots of Cohan's patriotism. Starting with a parade with flags and music keeping with the theme. 

The two together will remind people of Pearl Harbor and get them behind the President (if they weren't already). An iconic patriot like Cohan will boost their morale and get the spirit up that will be needed to cope with the war years to come. That America will endure and its people are part of that. 

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 believe it was essential that the continuity from the present to the past (and back again later at the end of the film if I may take that liberty) be handled like a time capsule opened at a time when the country needed it most. I think there is more of an impact starting with the visit to the Oval Office and FDR. Its a somewhere warmer and more personal segue to the Cohan story. Its an essential message that all Americans both young and old should come together (again emphasized more toward the end of the film when it returns to modern times and Cohen marches and supports the troops. The generational gap is noted recognized but the President emphasizes that the Cohan spirit is needed again). 



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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 White House, with the grand staircase, George M. Cohan walks up on his visit, is how I picture a visitor experiencing it for the first time. When he passes the wall of paintings, including George Washington's at the top, it's as if he becomes a contemporary element of this historical tableaux. His further entree into Franklin Delano Roosevelt's oval office, that's decorated with various ship paintings, replicas and American flags really emphasize the U.S. patriotism of the scene about to unfold and sets up the conversation between them.

Later during the parade of soldiers, with the cheering crowd waving American flags, this sentiment is further driven home. Outside of the Colony Opera House, where Jerry Cohan is performing an Irish tap routine, patriotism is having its own spotlight out on the street. Potent and visible, these symbols are what we've all come to think of as American. By prominently placing such blatant representations in front of the audience it appears to be an intentional way to remind them why the country needs to come together and be proud of our legacy during a time of war.

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.

There's a very gung-ho spirit to the dialogue in this scene, that feels like propaganda. In the conversation with the African-American servant, who tells Cohan he saw him when he was Teddy Roosevelt's valet 37 years ago in George Washington Jr., to his talk with Roosevelt the theme is very flag-oriented. 

As they walk up the stairs, and the servant recounts that Cohan was "singing and dancing about a Grand Ole Flag", Cohan says, "It was a good song then and it's still a good song." References to the flag are again reinforced by the two flags in Roosevelt's office and his line, "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." A majority of what's discussed is a way to embed the picture of the American flag into the minds of Americans and insist what it stands for.

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.

No I don't feel it would be as effective if it opened with "the Fourth of July Parade" because it's 1878, in the scene, and with World War I before them still, the country might be experiencing a premature optimism that hasn't been as tested as it was on the cusp of World War II. 

By the time Cohan meets FDR their shared optimism, strength and patriotism make the scene more profound and meaningful. Now they represent a beacon of hope for the country and therefore the scene is perfect where it is.

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The President's office is in and of itself a patriotic symbol for many Americans, but it's clearly designed to show pride in American history and the military. In addition to the presidential portraits and the flag to one side, I noticed several references to the Navy, which had just been bombed mostly out of existence, such as the model ship on the fireplace.

The opening scene establishes Cohan's importance, from the butler who says he still sings Grand Old Flag to FDR saying we still need his music. This was especially relevant in 1941 because Cohan had long ago ceased being a musical visionary and, without the wartime backdrop, would have been a washed-up composer living on his past glory and certainly not the subject of a major studio biopic. Suddenly, his old songs had new relevance.

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Response to #1. 

Props: The presidential portraits and so many flags! This story happened long before there were 50 states in the Union, so the flags we see in the film are some earlier versions of the Stars and Stripes (with fewer stars)! The Oval Office and its decorations, the vaudeville stage, the old hardware store, etc. All of the scenery is intended to make us feel nostalgic. If we had continued with this clip, we would have learned that George M. Cohen was born on the 4th of July. 

Response to #2. 

Dialogue: one of the first lines we hear is about Cohen’s song “Grand Ol’ Flag”—“just as good today as it ever was.” The Butler may have been referencing the song, the flag, or both. We aren’t sure!! Then the conversation between FDR and Cohen contains lots of little hints about patriotism and nationalism. FDR mentioned Cohen’s immigrant roots (during WWII, immigration and immigrants were a hot topic). Cohen mentioned his father’s involvement in the War Between the States. FDR mentions the size of the Union—the # of states that Cohen has covered during his years as an artist. (It’s always good to remind people just how big their nation is!!) Cohen then references Horatio Alger as we drift back in time to the day of his birth. Alger was an American novelist who was very popular during the nineteenth century. 

Response to #3. 

Any good story needs a great opening line to hook the reader or viewer. I think this opening sequence is just that. We get a glimpse of Cohen as an old man, climbing a staircase lined with imposing portraits. He meets someone whose face we never see...a President, and they begin to reminisce together. The story, at this moment, invites us into it and allows us to participate for the remainder of the film as Cohen narrates his life story to FDR. (we become the person to whom Cohen is narrating his 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.

Of course, there is patriotism oozes out of every pore. There are soldiers marching in unison, and there are flags anywhere. This symbolized the American way, where people came together for the cause. There also the dialogue in which FDR is amazed at the amount of respect that Cohan and his family have for the country. Before that, there was the moment where he is walking up the stairs with the butler and their are pictures of famous men in history on each side. You get the sense that the you're looking at country at its proudest.

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.

As I stated in my previous answer, patriotism and morale is the most important aspect of the scene, where every bit is dedicated to America and its values. This is definitely showcased as FDR says to Cohan: "that's one thing I like about you Irish-Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open"... And Cohan says: "I inherited it, from my father, he ran away to the Civil War when he was thirteen; proudest kid in the whole state of Massachusetts." You can see that both FDR and Cohan are on the same wavelength, especially where their love of the country is concern.

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 tone would been very different, meaning that it would have started on a more somber, serious note. This is why flashbacks are essential; they tell story of how a character started out and then came to be. This means that it would explain how George, as a child, grew up to be interested in the important events of wartime and how he wanted to use his talents to join in the cause. I love the way it starts because you get to see how patriotically satisfied George became and that he was then willing to talk to the President about his upbringing/life, career, and what America meant to him. If it opened differently, it would have center on his father, Cohan Sr, which would have been interesting, but this is Cohan Jr. story, and it is his to tell.

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American values are clearly visible, in the paintings of the former Presidents on the walls, the flags, and the American ships around the office.  

The dialogue revolves completely around patriotism, from the butler talking about seeing Cohan in George Washington Jr., singing about the proud, old flag, to Cohan referring to Yankee Doodle Dandy, and FDR speaking about how the Irish Americans carried their love of the country proudly.

I don't think the film would have been as effective, starting with the parade, because of the importance of the dialogue by FDR.  He talks about the patriotism of the Irish Americans, which allows Cohan to "flashback" to the parade sequence.  Eventually it will all tie together, but it's shows how Cohans ideals, and his own patriotism, was initially nurtured and developed by his parents. 

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1) Even though "YDD" was filmed in glorious black and white, this film has always been in living color to me...specifically red, white and blue.  From the portraits of former American Presidents lining the walls of the White House, to the flag on George M.'s lapel to the bunting and the flags being waved by the parade spectators, this is AMERICA writ large. OBTW: Just for fun, look at the scene @2:13 and as the camera pans from a flag waving in the breeze to the parade take note of the Hollywood Hills in the background. Who knew Providence, Rhode Island had such hills!

2) When the White House usher talks about seeing George M. about thirty years prior and he saw him courtesy of Teddy Roosevelt, whom he claimed loved to sing "You're a Grand Old Flag" while bathing.

George M: It was a good ol' song in it's day.

Usher: Yes sir, and it was and it's just as good today as it ever was.

This is reminding the audience of one of the many patriotic hit parade numbers that Mr. Cohan had given to his country and that (hopefully) the audience will get to hear as the film progresses.

3) If the film had opened from the Rhode Island setting this would have been a film bio that went from point A to point B and so on. Seems rather bland and that an audience unfamiliar with the work of Mr. Cohan might (possibly) leave the theatre. By opening with our star James Cagney he grabs the filmgoer from the start. We know things will be fine as Mr. Cohan was alive at the time the film opened; no need to worry if he is going to die at the end of the picture. We are not here for a tragedy. This is a very happy and boisterous film. Sure, Mom and Dad Cohan kick the bucket but not our hero. We can happily relax as we watch this star spangled extravaganza.

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This is a film, like many others in this course, that I have always heard about and seen clips of but have never seen. I'm looking forward to possibly seeing it this week! I've always had a soft spot for wartime musicals (Hollywood Canteen being one of my favorites) so it was interesting specifically studying what made the opening sequence of this film patriotic. It's always been conversations in these films that have fascinated me. In particular, when Cagny starts talking with President Roosevelt about being a descendant of immigrants, we get to see glimpses of what Michael Curtiz must have experienced. 

"You carry your love of country right out in the open". Curtiz was proud not only to be an immigrant, but also to be privileged enough to be in the country. In fact, even though he directed another fairly well known WW2 film, I believe that this one may have been closer to his heart. Having never seen the film, I can only speculate based on the 4 minute clip I've seen. But even in that clip, we see everything saturated in patriotism. The walls of the Oval Office are decorated with flags and paintings of battleships. The dialogue celebrates the virtues of this country. The parade sequence on the other hand almost seem out of place. Had the film started with that, it might have shifted focus onto the patriotism of the film as a whole rather than specifically looking at the main character and how his performance influenced patriotism. 

So, while this opening sequence is not necessarily as in-your-face patriotic as, say Hollywood Canteen, there are still many elements that make this a patriotic film. 

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1. The use of the flag and soliders who depicted the idea of freedom and that we live in the greatest country in the world. The use of the white house also shows how important the leader of the country is to keeping the values of family, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are of impotance to our country. Even the 4th of July parade and the actor talikng to the president about the hope of adding the last few stars to Old Gory are impotant.

2. When the actor speaking to the President says "I have followed every parade with a flagin my hand" speaks of the pride of being American and how imprtant it is too him. The second item I say booasted Morale was the parade where you see all the flags and the people having respect for the soliders who fight for hier freeedom.

3. If it had opened with the parade it would have made no sense with the opening dialouge between the doorman and the man telling his story to FDR. I say this because as a biographical musical you should have some introduction to the character being learned about and why the memory of the reasonf for him being patriotic are important to him. 

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I’ve read through many of the previous comments, but will try not to be too redundant.

1) Because of the thoroughness of set, dialog, music, etc., I think it all says “This IS America.  This is who we are.”  It also seemed upon reaching the top of the staircase, the camera lingered a little longer on Washington’s portrait than the others. This was done by letting them walk through, we saw a bit of their backs as they walked by.  The entire camera angle on the staircase was interesting.  Starts looking down at them from a distance.  Then they got closer, we saw the portraits more clearly and the actors became more parallel to our view.  Finally, reaching the pinnacle, reaching eye level with the “Father of *Our* Country”, we are now standing tall, and equal with the camera view.

2)  The part re: Irish & FDR praising the Irish as a people - I’m hedging my bet that Irish were selected due to the public trope of Irish being drunks, trouble makers, etc.  (the oft sentiment given to recent-ish immigrant groups).

3) the set up, starting at the end is often an excellent way to hook people into a story.  It immediately makes us wonder “How did *he* get here”?  It helps us to be interested.

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Daily Dose #5

1) The scenes in this movie promote American values by showing very patriotic props like the waving flag and marching bands particularly in the fourth of July scene and using the setting of the most patriotic day of the year. Also, the set design of showing the white house with the staircase with all the paintings of presidents that passed was very patriotic as well.

2)  The dialogue that boosts American morale to me was when the president was talking about "love of country" and "unity" which to me was connecting audiences to what unites us all is our love for this country and its values.

3) If this film opened with the Fourth of July parade then it wouldn't have felt as retrospective as it should since this film is being told from the perspective of an older person who has lived his life.   I believe this film is trying to connect audiences to that nostalgia of the past and how those American values live on which it accomplishes with the opening it currently has.

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1. There was a very heavy dose of American Values being promoted in the clip. The use of the White House, the painting of George Washington on the staircase, flags everywhere, the parade down the main street in town in front of a "Mom and Pop" kind of store and everyone gathered suggesting a sense of community. 

2. The scene in the Oval Office, not so much the dialog but the idea of. Cohen having an audience with the POTUS, suggested that if you work hard, you could achieve importance, be recognize. It creates a goal, which in turn boosts morale. 

3. The fact that the movie begins with the Oval Office scene suggests that what we are about to see is important, and we should pay attention. If it had opened with the parade, it may have seemed too frivolous and fun to pay much attention to the message. 

*On a personal note, I have to say that I was a bit put off, by what seemed to me,  a negative view of Irish-Americans by FDR in this scene. I have to wonder if Minnelli threw that in to point out bias directed at certain ethnicities and heritages. Even Cagney's reaction (he flinched) was noticeable. Maybe Minnelli had dealt with some bias in his life due to being of Sicilian descent. It is a way of pointing out that American is American without saying so. 

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My first viewing of  Yankee Doodle Dandy was as a child , watching, again, on the parents Sylvainia. Thank goodness  for my Uncle Claude. He owned an appliance  store and I am sure  we always got "the" models.
This had to be either during or shortly after the Korean War.  My Uncle Jack had served, and so even as a child, I was aware of the pride and loyalty we felt. Having come so close on the strings of WWll, I think that the patriotic  propaganda machine in film and tv was still a tour de force. 
1. In this scene, the grand staircase lined with specific past  presidents, McKinley ( I think), Grant (?), Jefferson, Washington sets our  history of other  wars.  The darkly lit room shrouds the impersonating president. I think the editing of the President's voice could have been "tamed", but  perhaps it was intentional  showing strength. I just never  thought it just right. Looking around the  room  I was wondering how many ships could be named. I have no clue.  

2. "Even Mr. Teddy would  sing 'It's a Grand Old  Flag ' in his bathtub" and " It's just as good today as it ever was,"spoken by a WH butler.
Upon entering, Cohan is greeted  by the President alone , in a "normal" desk chair, with no indication of the effects of polio weakening  his imagine. Mentioning how the President  remembers the Cohans, and that he went to school  in  Boston, sets historic references.  Cohan tell  the  President  how cocky he was and that he was  always carrying a flag in a parade or following one . The President states "I hope you haven't outgrown the habit. It is the one thing I have always admired about you Irish -Americans, you carry the  love of country like a flag , right out in the open. It's a great  quality"   Well  - if FDR  thinks so , I should too.

After Cohan's Massachusetts Civil War history, the President states, "So you've spent your life telling the other  47 states what a great country it is." Then the scene of  the flag waving parade - who can resist that ? It prepares the way for the birth of the "Yankee Doodle Dandy, born on the 4th of July !"

3.If the movie had opened with the parade?  I can't even imagine.The bombing of Pearl Harbor, the love of the nation for it's President, the admiration of all the patriotic songs of Cohan's, perfect storm of nationalism delight.
Cohan had actually received the Congressional Gold Medal two years prior (May 1, 1940) to the movies release . The United States not yet in  war , but by all means  gearing up.
Rep . Theodore Peyser stated, in support of the award, “Not because [Cohan] is a song writer, not because he is one of the most popular and foremost actors of the day, not because he has lent a helping hand to thousands, but because of his ability to instill in the hearts of the growing citizenry a loyal and patriotic spirit for their country and what it stands for in the eyes of the world.”

I think that is what  the open scene provides as well.


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1. For the opening in Michael Curtiz's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942) in terms of promoting American values for audiences during the Second World War, this would be associated with the opening in the White House, where James Cagney's portrayal George M. Cohan walking with Clinton Rosemond's portrayal of the butler; as the two are walking up the stairs, they are portraits of past Presidents on the wall.  The Oval Office set design featuring Capt. Jack Young as President Franklin D. Roosevelt (voiced by veteran voice-over artist Art Gilmore) with the model ships and the President's desk with the desk clock would also fit with this.  George M. Cohan (Cagney)'s miniature American flag pin in the Oval Office scene and the Providence, Rhode Island Fourth of July parade in the flashback scene with various American flags would also be beneficial.

2.  There are many aspects in boosting American morale from the opening scene in "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942).  One example would be Rosemond's butler character telling Cohan (Cagney) about his time with President Theodore Roosevelt and how T.R. admired Cohan's song, "You're a Grand Old Flag."    Another major example would be President Franklin Roosevelt (Capt. Young/Gilmore) encouraging Cohan that he hoped that he hadn't "outgrown the habit" of carrying a flag in a parade or following a patriotic parade.   One other significant point from Capt. Young/Gilmore's characterization of President Franklin Roosevelt to Cagney's George Cohan character: "So you spent your life telling other 47 states... what a great country this is."  Cohan (Cagney)'s flashback narrative of the Providence Fourth of July parade would also be applicable.

3. I believe that the opening with George M. Cohan's meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt serves as an important piece/story arc for Cohan's tale.  The important aspect is watching the entire film from start to finish, which is a masterpiece (to those who have not discovered Curtiz's "Yankee Doodle Dandy").   

Sidebar: Art Gilmore also narrated many of Warners' live-action short subjects, including most of the studio's "Joe McDoakes" comedic short subject features.

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