Yankee Doodle Dandy

We watched “Yankee Doodle Dandy” tonight. Again. This is a movie that I have watched several hundred times. They used to play it on “Million Dollar Movie” on channel 9 in New York, where I grew up.

“Million Dollar Movie” played one movie a week. It played the same movie all day every day for seven days — often horribly mutilated to make room for the advertisements –and if I happened to be home sick from school, I watched that movie all the time. They played “Yankee Doodle Dandy” often and it seemed to coincide with incidences of tonsillitis, one of my primary reasons for being out of school. I learned the songs. The dances. I know all the words not only from the songs, but from the entire script.

I love it. I still love it. Garry loves it. This despite the fact that we cannot figure out why it wasn’t made in color since it is so obviously a movie that ought to be in color — but I digress. At the end of the movie tonight, Garry commented that “All young movie makers should be required to watch this movie.”

In many ways, it is perfect. If this can’t get a little American fervor running through your veins, nothing will. This despite the current pathetic condition of America’s politics and elected officials. It still makes me sit up, smile, and sing along. I love the piccolo solos and the singing and the flag waving. It reminds me that I really am American. Born here, raised here. Went away, but came back because this is my home and I belong here. However awful it is these days, it simply has to get better. I demand it get better! I am horrified by this version of America and I want it to go away.

It’s the 6th of July again and the fireworks are over. Boom, bang, and back to reality.

When we lived in Boston, we got to see the fireworks live and hear the concert from our balcony where we lived. I know all the dog owners are dyspeptic about the fireworks and I understand, but I can’t help it. I like fireworks. Shoot me down, but I love the bang and the flash and the giant flowers in the sky. I always have. Back in New York, it was a mile walk to the park and we walked it. And back because the roads were a parking lot and there was nowhere to park even if you did manage to get there.

We would lie flat on the ground and watch the sky light up.


We watched Boston’s show last night on Bloomberg. David Mugar is no long sponsoring the fireworks and none of the TV stations had the money to cover the show. Bloomberg stepped in and took over sponsorship. I’ve never bothered to watch Bloomberg before. It was strange not to be watching it on NBC or CBS, but it was the same great show. Now only does the Boston Pops play one rousing version of the 1812 Overture, but the guys from the Army drop by and shoot off the artillery. It has got to be the loudest concert in history.

Now today was movie time.

We watched 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. Happy Birthday to US!

This is the beginning of American autonomy, when we stepped off the sidelines and entered the mainstream of the world’s history and politics. Let’s hope we remember that what we do matters, not only to us, but to the entire world. We aren’t a little colony anymore. We’ve moved up to “the Bigs.” We need to really make America great.

Really great. Again.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


  1. Those movies are definitely from a different (not my) era!

    As with the humans who contribute to them, Empires begin with youth, vigor and rebellion against the established order, move to a slower, more considered, middle-aged pace and then become old and crumbly while looking back at their former glories and while the young turks circle and jostle for the position of Top Dog. I think 44.5 and his coterie are looking to take America back to the past as their means of moving forward and in so doing will fall further and further behind those proto-empires (not necessarily any longer the exclusive domain of nations) who want their turn in the Sun.

    Assuming the environment and our mad rush to replace human effort and thought with electronics does not kill the us or the planet off in the mean time that is.

    Prove my fears wrong, America! (Just NOT with Forrest Gump as leader – OK?)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looking past the propaganda (this was, after all, the middle of WW 2), it’s a brilliant movie. Tight without a lot of special effects and no “extra baggage.” When the movie is over, you wish there was more of it. It’s one of the things wrong with American movies and a lot of European ones, too. They drag on and on and they don’t make their point. If you aren’t asleep before they are over, you wish you were.

      Propaganda? Yup. But sometimes, it’s good for the system. It has been a horrible time to be an American and a little positive pumping up is not a terrible thing.


    1. Daily, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is always a favorite here. This year, it’s the perfect r/x for much of what ails the U.S. right now. We know it was made as a propaganda film but so what? Its energy and sincerity is irrepressible. Cohan was a bigger than life show man but his patriotism was sincere.

      As for the suggestion that young film makers watch “Yankee Doodle Dandy, it’s because there’s no “fat” to the movie. Legendary director, Michael Curtiz (“Casablanca”, “Adventures of Robin Hood”, “They Died With Their Boots On”, etc) gave us epic films that ran between 90 minutes and 2 hours without missing a beat. No self-conscious 3 and a half hour scrip-poor extravaganzas, long on noise and short on intelligence.


  2. I love that movie. It’s almost the only one I can actually sit still for, these days, and about once or twice a year I hunt it down on YouTube and watch it all over again. It’s hokey, it’s obviously a wartime plug for the US of A, it’s brazenly patritotic, but Jimmy Cagney was amazing in it. I never weary of it. And that dancing down the stairs…Fred Astaire, eat your heart out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, Judy, Judy….we only replayed that dance down the White House stairs scene 3 times this year. Marilyn and I were beaming broadly. (The Cohan–Eddie Foy scene is another gem).


  3. Love it!! I thought about the song while looking at pictures of the original flag. What I realized was that I love the Flag. As a child we learned to salute it and I have kept that same feeling all of my life. I’m a girl but “I am that Yankee Doodle Boy”! America is great. Just a wee bit off track right now. But to paraphrase my mother “One person don’t stop no show”. Thanks for that staircase dance!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t that dance wonderful? We used to watch it over and over again, so I found it online. Now we can watch it as often as we need to.

      We needed a shot of patriotism. This has been a hard year for us. Painful and likely to get worse before it gets better, but you are right: one guys isn’t gonna stop the show. We just have to remember that and keep remembering it.

      Liked by 2 people

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