Coming in next on AFI's glorious list (or last rather) is Yankee Doodle Dandy. Jimmy Cagney stars in this bio-pic of vaudeville and Broadway star George M. Cohan (Not Cohen).
If you don't like singin', dancin', or America-in' you won't like this one. Like Broadway and vaudeville this flick is way over the top, but it works for itself. The premise is a little weak, but probably true (Cohan tells his life story to FDR before receiving a congressional medal of honor). Also its a bit self-serving, as Cohan scripted the movie and executive produced it as well. Throw a bunch of flag wavin' "I want to hump America songs" in there and you got a big ol' can of corn.
However, it works. Cagney is amazing. Any chance he gets - like Cohan - he steals all attention. Watching him dance conjures of memories (although brief) of wanting to be a tap-dancer - I still think it'd be pretty cool. The chemistry with his family (real-life sister plays that role) and wife is staggering. Tears were in mine eye when his father dies (sorry to spoil that, but it is a bio-pic, dads get old and die).
Cohan is proud of his Irish heritage and worked the side-shows as a little leprechaun tap-dancer in the ol' days. It makes him look like a pretty paddy. Stereotypes are a plenty here as most African Americans aren't depicted in the best of lights. I guess that's just how movies were in the 1940s.
This movie doesn't pretend to be a real musical and annoy me, so that's nice. All the songs are done on stage, George isn't just eating dinner and randomly bursting into song, so I can appreciate that - more realistic.
There's one scene where George cons a slightly stupid German dude into producing a play he wrote that got me. I think I can always get behind the classic pulling one over off-the-boat-wealthy-German gag.
So YDD was good. I liked it better than Unforgiven.
UPDATE on Gone with the Wind -
This book is 1000 pages; so glad on started with a short one. I'm getting there though, so expect my expose on Scarlett O'Hara soon. I have a long train ride back from DC, so maybe I can bang it out then.