Yankee Doodle Dandy

It’s the 4th of July again. We just watched the most spectacular fireworks display I’ve ever seen in my entire life … not to mention what has to be the absolutely best band concert in the world. Where else do they fire real howitzers during the 1812 Overture? Only at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River in Boston.


When we lived in Boston, we actually got to see the fireworks live and hear the concert from our balcony in the apartment where we lived. If we wanted to get even closer, we could stroll a few hundred yards, see and hear the entire event from the Arthur Fiedler footbridge over the Charles.


It was the best view in town and though watching it on television is okay, now that we live way out here in the country, there is nothing that beats being there.


Boston’s had a rough year. David Mugar, producer and sponsor of the event, really outdid himself this year. It’s always spectacular, but this year, it was spectacularly spectacular.

1997 fireworks on the charles

Now it’s time to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy.

When Garry and I were growing up in New York, the old Channel 11 (WPIX, I think it was) used to have a show called “Million Dollar Movie.” The theme for the show was “Tara’s Theme” from Gone With the Wind. I had never seen GWTW, so when I saw it for the first time, I said “Hey, that’s the theme for Million Dollar Movie.”

I wasn’t allowed to watch TV on school nights and only for a very limited period of time even on weekends. But, if I was home sick, I got to watch all the television I wanted, and better yet, I got to watch upstairs in my parents bedroom. It was black and white, as were all the televisions then. I don’t know if color TVs had been invented yet, but if they had been, no one I knew had one.

Million Dollar Movie played one movie per week, all day, every day, for however long they were on the air. So if I was home sick — usually for tonsilitis — whatever was playing, I saw it a lot. They also didn’t have a very large repertoire so the odds were pretty good if you got sick twice, you’d see the same movie again for another week.


Thus “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” the great James Cagney docu-musical was engraved in my brain. I believe that during at least three occurrences of my nemesis, those nasty tonsils, I watched it over and over again until I knew every word, every move, every song … with frequent commercial interruptions.

Now of course, we own the DVD and we never tire of watching it. No one danced like Cagney. No one had that kind of energy! Believe it or not, I never saw any other of his movies until I saw “One, Two, Three” in the movies when I was older.

Tonight, we’ watch again as James Cagney dances down the steps in the White House. We always replay it half a dozen times. Can’t get enough of it. In case you feel the same way, I’ve included it so you can replay it as many times as you want. What a great movie! Happy Birthday to US!

I thought he was a song and dance man and comic actor. I was very surprised to discover he used to play gangsters. Million Dollar Movie didn’t play those films.

Only one questions remains unanswered through all these years. How come they didn’t make it in color? Does anyone have a sensible answer to that?