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.
We just watched it again and we watched James Cagney dance down the steps in the White House five times. I’ve included it here so you can watch it as many times as you want. What a great movie it is.
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?