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Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

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

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1. Being in the Whitehouse, obviously, sets up American values. Can anything be more American than where the President himself lives? Furthermore, the American flag pin, the portraits of past presidents on the wall, and the naval photos and the model ship (I believe that's what was in FDR's office) are all American symbols. More than that, I would think the ships would be a tribute to Pearl Harbor and the US Navy.

2. From two minorities (Irish American and African American) talking about American pride, when both had been so abused in the US's early years (African Americans longer than Irish Americans, who had the privilege of at least being white, even if they were the lowest of their own race) to two men of different social backgrounds, the conversations all range around American pride, virtue, and patriotism. The butler and Cohan discuss the earlier Cohan days and the music that a former president loved, uniting them across racial lines in a way to remind the viewers that we're all in this together. The President and Cohan discuss Cohan's patriotism and how much the Irish love a country. It's all tying back to loving America, no matter who you are.

3. If this movie would have opened up on the 4th of July (while a patriotic date), it would have lost the connection to the war American audiences were currently dealing with. So shortly after entering the war, they didn't need a 4th of July parade from the 1800s - what they needed was to see their president and a man they respected and loved reminding them that America continues on, that we all have pride and passion no matter who we are, and that we're all in this together. It would have been a biographical movie either way, but the book-ends in the president's office keep the audience lifted about where we're going more than where we've been.

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1.     Many have mentioned the scene climbing the stairway (ascending to meet The President). I am uncertain how familiar the movie-going public was with the geography of the White House at this time – TV has so changed our relationship with the White House. The Oval Office was indeed located on the second floor of the White House until 1933. The location at this time was in what previously and subsequently was known as "The Lincoln Bedroom.” So, Mr. Minnelli evokes George Washington by pausing the shot briefly at his portrait, evokes Teddy Roosevelt directly (singing Cohan songs in the bathtub) and Progressive Era politics in dialogue by having the black valet discuss seeing Cohan perform, and ends the shot in a room built under Lincoln. I also find it striking we find FDR seated at his desk with a paper and pen lying next to it. This is a work-break for the President, and a short one at that. This and the austerity of the lighting in the room except for the lighted work desk reminds us of the serious work going on here. 

2.     I am fascinated by FDR’s apology for not attending Cohan’s opening (“we understand each other perfectly”) seems layered. All or several of the above are conveyed: (a) important work here makes me unable to attend. (b) FDR’s attendance at the opening of a play about him might be complex politically (even though it was a sympathetic portrayal. (c) The opening of a play should be about the players – not about the audience. Who would be watching the play about FDR if FDR is in the audience? Wouldn’t they be watching his reaction to the play? (d) Even me here in the White House  can connect with Cohan – as one might say “a mere actor” – and a purveyor of popular culture. The way they tease each other a bit is pulled off beautifully by Cagney – tempted to be intimidated by being with the President, but made more confident by reminders of Cohan’s service to his country.

3. The jump cut from Cohan having a warm tete-a-tete with the President in the Oval office to a humble “born in a trunk” scene (Cohan’s birthday is actually July 3, 1887) is the entire theme of the movie at once: from humble origins he rises (up the White House stairway – to be exact) to be adjacent to the height of power. That cut and Cagney tap dancing down the White House stairway at the end of the movie make this movie. ---- One discontinuity problem which I would be inclined to overlook except I think it was deliberate. I think the march played by the military band in the second scene is "The Stars and Stripes Forever."  Sousa wrote and published that a good 8 - 10 years after 1887. But wouldn't you want to evoke Sousa next to Cohen in a movie dedicated to the idea that American popular culture was as important to the war effort as guns and ammo. They recognized this long before Andrew Breitbart said, "Politics is downstream from culture."

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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.

Walking up the steps to the President’s office, Cohan and the butler pass a variety of presidential portraits on the wall and it appears as if they are chronologically going back in time (last portrait is that of George Washington). At the end of the film, as Cohan dances down that same staircase, he’s coming from the past back to the present day. Cohan wears a flag pin on his coat’s left lapel.

The mere fact that an “ordinary American” (as Cohan will state in the final scenes of this picture) can come in and “talk things over” is, as Cohan will state, one of the best definitions of being an American. The presidential office is warm with FDR’s personal items (ship model, desk clock, etc.) and the desk light casts a warm glow on the scene. This creates the feeling of home in what might otherwise feel too formal.

The Fourth of July parade in Providence, Rhode Island is awash with American flags (flying from buildings and waved by parade participants and watchers) and the building are also decked out in red/white/blue buntings.

 

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 banter between Cohan and FDR in the opening scenes show that even an ordinary American can sit down with the President to discuss things. FDR shows wonderful self-depricating humor when he quotes the newspaper review that states Cohan makes “a better president in I’d Rather Be Right than I am.” And Cohan jokingly reminds the president that it’s a “Republican newspaper.” Cohan refers to himself as a “regular Yankee Doodle Dandy, always carrying a flag in a parade or following one.”

By 2018 sensibilities, it may seem rather racist to say that Irish-Americans “carry [their] love of country like a flag, right out in the open.” But FDR adds that this is “a great quality” implying that everyone should feel the same way.

 

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.

Introducing George M. Cohan coming to the White House neatly bookends this film biography. In the opening scenes we see Cohan (James Cagney) a little nervous about meeting the President, not knowing exactly why he’s been summoned. In the dialog, we’ve already learned (if we didn’t know it already) that Cohan is very patriotic, that he inherited that trait from his father who is, himself, a war veteran. This helps to set up the idea of the family and how closely they’re linked in their feelings towards America and Cohan’s strong relationship with his father especially.

FDR also sets up the idea of the story being told in flashbacks by saying he had seen the Four Cohans when he was “attending school near Boston.” Cohan refers to himself as a “pretty cocky kid,” setting up the fact that we’re going to see some of the trouble he got in.

Had the film begun with the Fourth of July parade in Providence, we wouldn’t have any initial idea that this film is about George M. Cohan unless you were able to read the theatre advertising board (“Mr & Mrs Jerry Cohan, Irish Darlings”) as the camera pans to the theater. And, without the overlapping narration, we wouldn’t even know this was in Providence. Because the scenes in the president’s office already set up the sense of family and country, we see instead how patriotism was instilled in Cohan’s character.

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Both today's "For Me and My Gal" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" rev up the patriotic fervor by referencing World War I, which was still fresh in people's minds in the 1940's. Instead of the world-weary post-war feeling of "Remember My Forgotten Man," there was a rosy glow around the memory of The Great War at a time when America was entering WW2.

"Yankee Doodle Dandy" sets its patriotic stage through the use of the American flag. It makes no difference that the movie is in black and white; the colors red, white and blue come through clearly throughout the movie. The flag in FDR's office in the beginning and the multiple flags in the 4th of July Parade of Georgie's birth create a cord that binds through time. The 2nd World War is not a major character in the movie, but its presence certainly stands over the whole movie.

One thing stuck out in the dialogue with FDR. It's the line about his admiration for the Irish immigrants, who wear their (our) love of country on our sleeves. As a time when many Irish looked upon the War in Europe as England's War and not their problem, this simple statement is a kind of gentle reminder that this current conflict was about the USA---their home.

Opening with FDR in the Oval Office brought an immediacy to the movie that would hit 1940's audiences quickly and emotionally. Beginning with the flashback of George's birth sets up the film as just another biography. The scene with FDR sets up the movie as a love story between George M. Cohan and his country.

One more note: "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was shown all the time on Million Dollar Movie when I was a kid in NY. It was incredibly popular among us kids. World War II was still a recent memory. I remember the film creating the same kind of patriotic fervor among my friends that it must have in its original run.

 

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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.  Scene begins with Cagney and the butler walking up the stairs at the White House.  They walk past portraits of various presidents, the final one at the top of the stairs being of George Washington.  “Seeing” and “hearing” FDR must have been inspiring to audiences given what a hero he was, especially at the height of the WW2 when this film was made.  The American flag is prominently on display in the background.  Flashback goes to the 4th of July with tons of flag-waving.  Nothing more American than that.

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.  Love of country, with a focus on immigrant patriotism and family members fighting for the country as early as the Civil War, was part of the discussion. 

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.  FDR was such a pivotal figure in WW2.  Starting in the present with him immediately invokes feelings of patriotism and what he had already done to unite the country against Germany and Japan.  It sets the stage for patriotism.  All of that would have been lost had this just been a movie about Cohan.

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Even without knowing the title or plot of the film, you would know it’s intent. From the presidential pictures lining the staircase, to the ships on the wall..spotlight on the battleship above the mantle...to the parade flags, to the father anxious to be with his family, everything promotes patriotism and love of home—key ingredients for a 40s musical. Underscore that with Cagney characterizing himself  to the POTUS as a “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and the movie is set.

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1. There really isn't much more American than being in the White House. It tends to conjure up feelings of pride and country. Cohan walks by pictures of previous presidents, reminding the audience that these historical figures, these great men, lived and worked in this same building that he's walking through. There's also a sense of intimacy when Cohan is in the room with Roosevelt, a closeness most people will never get to experience, but would love to.

2. Roosevelt mentions the Irish roots of Cohan, and Cohan tells him how his father fought in the Civil War and instilled that pride into him and his family. This would be poignant for many people in the US, since so many were immigrants themselves and maybe didn't feel always feel welcome in America. I think Roosevelt's casual approach makes the scene feel more comfortable, like he's an approachable figure and not just some sort of myth. He speaks honestly and feels like a real man. This makes the viewer feel at ease, and think they could be on par with him, a true American.

3. If it started with the parade, it would run through his life from beginning to end, which is normal enough for a biographical film. But I think framing it with an older Cohan to start makes it clear he's there to tell his story, from a current standpoint, to his audience of "right now". It also enables him to cut in at different points of the story, or flash back to the present if he wants to interject something. It gives it a more personal touch that some biographies can lack, and is even better when the person is still living or lived very recently, like Cohan. 

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The clip features the American flag many times. The audience gets to see a glimpse of the White House. The American ships and portraits all symbolizes the country and what it represents. The big idea of loving your country and being proud of it is shown when the clip goes back in time. The audience see the crowd of people waving their flags and they hear the marching band play American marching tunes. Also the idea of immigration comes up and the idea of immigrants coming over and making a better life for themselves and their family in a country that promotes liberty and freedom. The American Civil War is also mentioned. Mentioning the war brings back the idea  and sense of America being a country that has fought for its freedom. The dialogue in the clip is all about praising the country and why it is such a great country. With lines like, " ...Grand old flag...", or "...What a great country it is..." the characters in the film are promoting American values. I don't know about the last question. I'm not really sure how it would be different. 

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On 6/10/2018 at 11:13 PM, Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament said:

 

  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. Well plenty of indicators he's in the White House; paintings of various presidents, wide, sweeping staircase, and the office screamed FDR.  Very nautical, paintings of ships, even the little Democratic jackass on his desk!!!  
  3. 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.
  4. Hmm. My favorite line is the usher calling Teddy Roosevelt "Mr. Teddy" .  George Sr. responding to the theatre director or whoever when he says "Sometimes these things can take days." "She's never missed a performance.
  5. 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.
  6. We need the instant identification w 1940s America to launch us on the epic journey of this man's life. If we did start w his birth we would lose the voice at the beginning of this film speaking and telling his story, not only to FDR, but to us.
  7. By far a wonderful selection for study.  Until I was about ten years old I actually thought the White House looked as it does in this movie.

 

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1.  What Else can go over the top than showing a patriotic performer meeting the President of the United States of America leading the whole country throughout the World War II in the White House for his performance as the President as in a biographic film?!  Well, White House itself, all the portraits of the former Presidents along the stairs, National Flags, the 4th July Parade, and the conversation between Cohan and the President were designed to promote American values for audiences during World War II.

2.  Basically, the whole conversation between Cohan and the President is meant to boost American morale.  Cohan came out of his retirement to portrayed the President leading the country through World War II, the President praised Cohan's patriotic nature, and Cohan recalled his own life since little with Family and Perseverance.  These were all the American morale the film was to promote.

3.  The film started with White House to present the Relevance of the Time for the audience at that time to relate this film as A Current Event, i.e. NOT Fiction.  Also, it is natural, when people converse in a private setting, the topics often trigger what have been remembered from what have happened in the past.  Thus, recalling is a more dramatic way to tell the story of Cohan's life for this film.

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1. I think most emphasized factor of the set design are flags. In the Oval Office there are two and attention is drawn to them since they seem to be the only thing casting a shadow on the wall behind them. The next shot opens on a flag and then moves to focus on the parade and small flag waving everywhere. The portraits of the presidents lining the staircase continue with Cagney as they ascend the stairs until they culminate to George Washington at the top of the stairs. This especially evokes patriotism since he's regarded as the greatest (or one of the greatest) president and furthermore he was a general which supports the war effort indirectly. The chairs and furniture are wood in the background with supports the rustic American ideal since they're traditional and avoid trends as they remain timeless. 

2. There's an important exchange thats played off as comedic when 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.' It draws a positive relationship between theater/the arts and politics, which it turn rallies the American public and gives them a more positive view of politics/the war. The dialogue also conveys a sense of unity with the initial conversation with the American American servant about the 'Grand Old Flag' since the pride and patriotism crosses racial lines. This theme is furthered with later mention of Irish American patriotism. 

3. Opening with the Oval Office sets up the parade through Cohen's memories. As a results the parade becomes nostalgic instead of just patriotic. This sort of sentiment romanticizes war through the lens of younger time in his life that he views fondly. Either opening would be highly patriotic, yet the view of the parade as a memory makes the patriotism seem less forced since it's the story of a person and not a 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.  The opening scene with the white house, the grand staircase, the president, the flag, the parade - all to highlight America.  
  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.  I like that the president says a kind word about Irish-Americans since that is not the main feeling that America had for Irish  from the beginning of their immigration to the US.  It feels as if it was planted there purposefully?  
  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.  It is essential to set it up for the flashback so that we understand why Mr Cohan Sr. must run out on his show - the birth of his son.  It wouldn't have had enough of an impact if it didn't include FDR and the man the baby grew up to be.

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1.       Paintings of past presidents as they walk up the staircase two that I saw were Jefferson and Washington. Just being in the white house is an honor in itself. The amount of American flags, in the oval office on Cohan’s lapel, 4th of July parade. The opera house where Cohan’s father is performing is named ‘colony opera house’ a nod to the original 13 colonies’ perhaps?

2.       “singing and dancing about the grand old flag” this line is the first hint that this movie is a patriotic movie. “… there was one time I thought I did, right now I wish I did.” Cohan “yes, so do I” Roosevelt, I take this as a reference to the country at this time both wishing they knew how to help it in its time of need. Cohan talking about his father running a way to fight in the Civil War and being “the proudest kid in the whole state of Massachusetts.

3.        If it opened in Providence, Rhode Island instead of the Oval Office it would feel as if it was missing something important. The oval office Scene helps set the stage for the movie, and we would also be missing how three different people from different back grounds love the same country.

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I adore this film. Michael Curtiz is one of my favorite directors, certainly of this period, and perhaps of all time. Having said that I'll try to be objective in my response to two of the three questions.

  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.

Beginning the scene in the foyer of the White House and moving up the staircase to FDR's office focuses our attention on the grandeur of the White House. The shot stays fairly wide throughout, and we get the sense of the openness of the place. The portraits lining the stairs are of earlier presidents (Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, and Thomas Jefferson stand out to me.) who watch over the characters as they move past; certainly, that would be a comforting thought to Americans at the time that our forefathers watch and approve of the task we've undertaken. Patriotism and a positive sort of nationalism are evoked there. There's also the interesting contrast in costumes at the beginning of the scene. The valet's uniform is elaborate and calls back to an earlier period of formality and opulence when "gentlemen" had manservants in livery. Cohan, on the other hand, is dressed in a simple suit, one that could easily be a working man's Sunday best. Hard work and respect for authority and the solemnity of the moment are implied by that suit.

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 are two portions of dialogue that I'd like to highlight. The first is the valet's exchange with Cohan. They are discussing the fact that the valet served as valet to Theodore Roosevelt who got him tickets to see Cohan's production George Washington Jr.. He tells Cohan about seeing him sing "You're a Grand Old Flag" and how "Mr. Teddy used to sing it in his bathtub." There's an intimacy here between the personal and the public that's important. "You're a Grand Old Flag" is patriotic but not militaristic. It's about national ideals, not national power. That's the public part. The intimate part is the revelation that President Theodore Roosevelt would sing it in the bathtub. While perhaps meant as comedic (it is kind of funny to think of TR singing in the tub), that knowledge of TR's love of the song reveals that patriotism is with us even in our most vulnerable moments. The second exchange is between FDR and Cohan. FDR comments "That's one thing I’ve always loved about you Irish-Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open. It’s a great quality.” There’s a certain irony to FDR’s comments as it wasn’t so long ago, in fact around the time that George M. Cohan’s father ran away to join the Union Army during the Civil War, that the Irish weren’t welcome as immigrants. In 1878 (the year Cohan was born) you might still see signs that say “Irish need not apply.” World War II will make for some dangerous times for immigrants; showing that immigrants are patriotic and true to their adopted nation could ease some of the potential tensions. It’s a piece of dialogue that includes everyone, native born and immigrant alike.

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I think the opening with FDR was effective.   The parade scene would not have been seen in the same context without the conversation between the FDR character and Cagney's GMC.  Patriotism and love of country spanning generations of Americans.    Cagney's character said, he learned it [patriotism] from his father, who enlisted for the Union in the Civil War, and the President talked about how Irish Americans wore their patriotism and love of country openly.  One member of this class mentioned the scene where Cagney's character was seated off center and a chair in the background with the desk clock looked like a wheelchair.   I saw that too, and that the film director did not have the FDR character rise when Cagney came into the office or when they shook hands, a normal part of that courtesy and greeting.  

As Cagney ascended the stairs and he and the butler spoke, the paintings reflected past Presidents, wartime Presidents culminating with Washington at the top of the stairs.   When Cagney entered the office, you saw other reminders of past wars, the masted battleship under a glass case, paintings of other ships and battles, the flag next to the fire place.   The conversation was personal, but the Cohan character always maintained a respectful formality for the man holding the office.   I liked that the filmmaker did not try and put a face to FDR, it was reminiscent of his radio broadcasts.  I think they were called fireside chats.   It was how most Americans connected with FDR.  

I know that this was film meant to stir our support and ove of country, but it is one of my favorite Cagney films (along with Something to Sing About).    You see what a great song and dance man Cagney was.   And you see his charm as he interacts with his female leads. 

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1.At first I was quite confused by Cohen's apparent inattentiveness to the president's attendant, but in my second view I realized he was showing his pride in the beauty and history displayed in the room and on the walls.  He was in awe of what he was sing and wanted to remember it all.

2. Such lines as, " You Irish Americans" should the pride of these people who had become citizens in a new country.  The Preaident's observation, "... carry your love of Country like a flag--right out in the open," and "What a great country it is!"  Gave all citizens a goal to reach for every day.  It said love your country and show it like these people do.  Of course all the flags waving in the parade scene proved they shared the Irishman's pride.

3.  Beginning the scene in the White House set the tone of the courage, American pride, and desire to instill that pride in others that the young grateful Irish immigrants wanted all Americans to share.  If they would have started with He parade it would have seemed more like an autobiography Family film.

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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.  Nothing makes you feel American like being in the White House.  FDR was elected four times and many watching the movie had no recollection of any other president so FDR was the embodiment of that office.  
  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.  Cohan talks about his father joining up at age 13 during the Civil War.  They talk about pride.  They don't say it but it's assumed that we came through the Civil War and WWI and we'll come through this one.
  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.  It's more natural to watch Cohan reminiscing and telling the story to FDR, rather than him telling the story to the viewers.  It also give a direction to the story that Cohan will tell it up to the present (1942).  We think we are going to come back to FDR's office at the end.  It gives us the scope of the movie.

Casting the lovable Walter Huston as Cohan's father was interesting since Walter played Abe Lincoln in 1930.  Further Americanizing the film.  I didn't realize Walter could dance, but I guess they did everything back then.

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1. When Cohan is at the White House, the camera pans in on the paintings of past presidents. The fact that he was invited to see the president, is a huge honor and means he did something important.

2. The president commends Cohan for supporting his country even though and more importantly because he is an immigrant. Cohan is born on the Fourth of July and refers to himself as a Yankee Doodle Dandy because he says he walks around with a flag and doesn't miss a parade.

3. Because it opens with the visit to the president, it starts a dialogue of Cohan's life from its high point, to the day he was 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.  The movie begins in the White House with America's President at the time, FDR.  As Cohan ascends the stairs, there are pictures of several past presidents, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  All the while, the gentleman who is the White House butler tells Cohan that he remembers him 30 years ago when he played George Washington, Jr.  After speaking with FDR, who mentions that he loves the way that you Irish Americans "carry your love of country" out just like a flag, the scene shifts to an Independence Day parade in 1878 with a plethora of flag-waving people and marching Union soldiers from the Civil War.  All are symbols or references to freedom and our foundation as an independent country.  You can't get more American than that!   
  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.  FDR's speech about the Irish-American people carrying "your love of country out in the open like waving a flag.  I like that" talks about the joys of love of country.  Mention of the Grand Old Flag also reinforces love of country and boosts morale.  In addition, FDR recalls when he first saw the Cohan family perform, saying that he "remembered them well."  This reinforces the warmth and unification of family, pride in family and hard work, and further promotes love of country.
  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 movie as George enters the White House and ending the movie as he leaves the White House brings continuity to the film and clearly establishes it as a biography as told by the main character.  It allows George to tell his own American success story to whom better than the President of the United States.  Had the movie just started with a parade in Providence, I don't think it would have been as effective.  To whom would George be re-telling his memories?  Mary already knew his stories.  FDR grounds the story/biography in Americanism and allows the story come full circle.

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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.

There are flags prominently displayed everywhere, a not-so-subtle bit of patriotism. As soon as the flashback starts, what do we see? The American flag again. The patriotic symbols are front and center.

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 reinforces that patriotism is the for the greater good. National unity is paramount. 

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 framing device of visiting FDR provides a good setup for the story proper. If it started with the parade, there would not really be as much of a link to the viewers.

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1. Flags, flags and yes, more flags!

2. FDR says to Cohan, after a back handed compliment to Irish Americans, "you carry your love of country like a flag." Then later he commends Cohan for "spending his life telling the other 47 states what a great country this is."

3. I think the framing device was a way to include the (for the time) modern audience into the story.It sets the tone for the patriotic theme of the movie. The parade scene seems like it belongs in one of the theatrical musicals of the earlier decade.

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1. The scenes in today’s daily dose were designed to promote American values to audiences during WWII through flags, patriotic songs (Three Cheers for the Red White and Blue), and of course, the White House and Mr. President himself. They speak about patriotism in the scene a great deal, and the ideas are said in a way that would encourage the people of that time to be more patriotic and help out for the war effort.

2. The dialogue boosts American morale a great deal. In the beginning of the scene, the valet speaks of President Roosevelt singing “It’s A Grand Old Flag” in the bathtub thirty-some years ago. Cohan says “It was a good song in it’s day.” And the valet responds with “Yes sir, it was and it’s just as good today as it ever was.” This speaks of the importance of carrying our patriotism through the years. Could you imagine if they lost patriotism after WWI? WWII would be a total flop. The song still is as good as it ever was, and it boosts morale to this day.

3. I feel as though the dialogue beforehand prepares us for the Fourth of July parade. If it opened with the parade, it would’ve felt overwhelming and loud. The dialogue explains to us what this movie is going to be about, and it creates a spark of interest as well instead of a same-old, same-old Fourth of July parade.

 

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          The opening scene is designed to put George M. Cohan's life into the context of American history and link it directly with the war effort. Starting with a visit to president Franklin D. Roosevelt makes it clear that the story is more than a simple biography, in which the life of the subject is presented as a finished work. Here, his life, though full, culminates in this moment of recognition and sends him off, presumably, to focus his talents on contributing to the war effort.  This scene is filled with patriotic & military iconography. Cohan climbs the stairs past several indistinct portraits of presidents (Cleveland, B. Harrison?, McKinley?), before reaching the top, with easily recognizable portraits of Jefferson and Washington. Inside the office, there is plenty of naval imagery: ship models and paintings cover the walls and the president's desk has a large ships wheel clock (all appropriate for a president who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I).  A message of unity and sacrifice is reinforced by the conversation between FDR and Cohan. Cohan characterized himself as a "real "Yankee doodle dandy, always carrying a flag in a parade or following one."  FDR replies, "That's one thing I admire about you Irish-Americans. You carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open." Even as Cohan begins to tell his life story through the flashback, the message of patriotism and sacrifice are reinforced. We are transported to his birth in 1878, on the fourth of July as a parade of Civil War veterans marches by. At the end of the movie, he exits the White House and finds himself in a parade with soldiers singing "Over There," one of his songs from World War I.

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In regards to the dialogue/screenplay boosting the American morale of WWII, I have one specific example that stuck out to me: when the President is talking to Cohan, he mentions the Irish-Americans and says, "you carry your love of country like a flag, right out in the open, it's a great quality." - although it is directed towards Irish-Americans, during the time this could have reflected on the mass American audience as well 

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