No place does the 4th of July like Boston. I’m pretty sure we think it’s our holiday. The rest of the country is a Johnny-Come-Lately. It all happened here or at least, nearby. The Declaration of Independence. The battles of Lexington and Concord. All that stuff that we are currently forgetting ever happened as we march into authoritarianism. But, I digress.

Today, we make our annual excursion into patriotism — maybe for the last time. Let’s not forget the howitzers. They are the most important instruments in the 1812 Overture.

Nothing says independence day like artillery.


When we lived in Boston, we could see the fireworks and hear the concert from our balcony in Charles River Park. It was one of the perks of living in Boston. If we wanted to get closer, we could stroll a few hundred yards west enjoy the party from the Arthur Fiedler footbridge over the Charles. It was the best view in town. Watching it on television is okay since we live in the country and Boston is too far to drive. Still, being there was more fun. And much louder.


Now it’s time to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy. We always watch it. It has always been part of our personal celebration of being Americans.

When Garry and I were growing up in New York, the old Channel 9 had Million Dollar Movie. It was on not only every day, but several times a day and it played the same movies for a full week. 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 even then, only for a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday night. But, if I was home sick, I got to watch all the television I wanted. Better yet, I got to watch upstairs in my parents bedroom. The television was black and white as were all televisions. I don’t know if color TVs were invented, but if they were, no one I knew had one.

Channel 9 with its Million Dollar Movie was the movie channel, so whatever they were playing, I saw it a lot. They didn’t have a large repertoire. Odds were good if you got sick twice, you’d see the same movie both weeks.

Thus Yankee Doodle Dandy, the great James Cagney docu-musical was engraved in my brain. I believe that during at least three sick weeks (tonsillitis was my nemesis), I watched it repeatedly until I knew every word, every move, every song — except for the pieces the station randomly removed to make room for commercials. No one danced like Cagney. No one had that special energy! Believe it or not, I never saw any other Cagney movie until One, Two, Three came out many years later. Tonight, we’ll watch James Cagney dance 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. Cagney won his only Oscar for this performance. I never knew he played gangsters until many years later. Million Dollar Movie didn’t play gangster movies. Just lots and lots of westerns — and Yankee Doodle Dandy.

How come they didn’t film it in color? Does anyone have a sensible answer to that?

Categories: celebration, film, Holidays, Movies, Music, Patriotism, Reviews, Show Business, Television

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11 replies

  1. I love the Boston Pops 4th of July show and am glad to see it is back. I like a Capitol Fourth on PBS and Macy’s NYC show too, but Boston is best. We had our fireworks already under the theory that if it got rained out we could have it today. You can see giant fireworks shows in every suburb of any size today.
    Yanke Doodle Dandy is on the Movies channel this morning and tonight. It is followed by 1776 each time. They are also running State Fair and Carousel. That’s a great lineup. As you showed, there is nothing like Cagney dancing down the White House stairs. He certainly deserved the Oscar for his performance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Until I got old enough to do a little research, I was sure that WAS the story of George M. Cohan. I was disappointed that it wasn’t true, but it didn’t make me love the movie less. And, after all these years, I still love it.

      I think the “movies” channel is one of the few movie channels we don’t have. But I’m sure they are doing something similar on Starz and TCM (the HBO version, not the actual channel), and who know where else. We have to watch the Boston festivities tonight. I want to hear those howitzers!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Rich, that’s a great movie lineup for this 4th.

      Cagney told me “Dandy” was his personal favorite but Jack (Smilin’ Jack) Warner didn’t want to ‘splurge’ on color – citing war expenditures. War expenditures didn’t stop Jack from shooting an Errol Flynn western (“Dodge City”) in color. Priorities.

      – “1776” (No, I didn’t cover this one in my career)
      – “State Fair” – I hope it’s the original one from the 40’s.
      – “Carousel” – Such wonderful music.

      We’ll follow “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with Prof. Harold Hill and “The Music man” tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy independence day marilyn! Enjoy the movie! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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