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I have loved this movie since I first saw it on tv reruns at about age 10. Jimmy Cagney was so fantastic in it.
A relatively average movie saved by amazing musical numbers and James Cagney's amazing performance as Cohan. Feels like a firework being set off. His energy glows from the stage directly to the viewer. Worth owning and rewatching.
This fast-moving, fast-talking, fast-singing depiction of renowned playwright/musician/performer George M. Cohan's life is most notable for -- much like the subject at its center -- acting as a patriotic reminder of self-confidence during a time when the future of America was a little bit uncertain. What contemporary critics may notice about the film may range from the catchy song work, to the incredible dance numbers, or the earnest, old-fashioned feel to it all. But what this viewer took most to heart was the unceasingly charismatic, kinetic, and electrical performance at the center of the film. Taking home a much deserved Academy Award for his performance, James Cagney absolutely carries this movie on his shoulders from scene to scene, not only proving that he can turn on the charm and amiability like the best of Hollywood's leading men, but that he can dance too! And, man, what a dancer he is. Overall, this was a true delight of a musical biography, elucidating the -- mostly factual -- life of a man whose art really did inspire the best in a country's people. It's good stuff!
AFI 100 Greatest Films - #100 : I am not normally a fan of the biopic genre and enjoyed this one way more than I expected, largely because of Cagney. While having no previous impression of Cohan I can't speak to Cagney's authenticity in the role but his energy, charisma and overall likability is undeniable and surely what places this on AFI's list. This film can be viewed in another context too when taking into account the year it was released, causing some of the lines to begin to have a propagandist tone. The fact that I am still humming multiple numbers hours later has me worried I may break into spontaneous dance any minute.
Cagney is a man who can make anyone sensational, Curtiz is amazing always and the whole set takes the extra mile to make this the greatest non-musical film ever.
An undeniable standout in the show-biz-centric musicals of the era. Where most are disposable song-and-dance-and-not-much-else tales, this takes a deeper look at the changing of trends and the difficulty of relevance. Clearly influenced by the experimentation of Citizen Kane, it boasts cool cinematography and solid editing. Cagney (when not being asked to sing) is great, playing the flawed but lovable song-and-dance man. Even if it isn't as transcendent as its reputation holds, it's still a noble good time.
James Cagney moves from King of the Gangsters to a song and dance man in this sugary sweet Hollywood biopic of George M. Cohan. Looking at it from a view of sentimentality and admiring Cagney's versatile performance we can ignore the storyline's pitfalls of not really following Cohan's life. The dance numbers as illustrious and Cagney has quite the voice. He would win the 1942 Best Actor Oscar for his role; which was definitely deserved. One of the finest black and white musicals out there.
James Cagney gives the performance of a lifetime in this celebration of America.
Bio-musical of the pretty ghastly George Cohan, composer of some of the most banal and jingoistic songs ever to disgrace Broadway. James Cagney invests his trademark cartoon energy into every scene, and Michael Curtiz keeps most of the clichÃ©s at bay, but it's still jarring to see blackface getting big laughs, and war celebrated with so little irony or self-reflection.
Another lost rating :(
1001 movies to see before you die.