This movie is a whole lot of ridiculous. I don’t expect musicals to be simulacrums of reality, but I need something more concrete than prancing boys in a retelling of Romeo and Juliet who make statements on race relations.
I’m almost afraid to see the intellectual take on this film from 1961. “How important are the arts,” I can hear them saying, “having the audacity to take on the tumultuous themes of the American Dream and Immigration. What would we do without Broadway?”
Where this film ultimately fails for me is that it is less of a musical and more of a So You Think You Can Dance? episode. Having just watched The Sound of Music, this musical lacks the big and catchy tunes and instead relies on choreographed dance offs. Part of me appreciates the art form, part of me still was disappointed.
I don’t know who I am anymore — enjoying a film based on theater and stage.
American Film Institutes Ranking: #100/100 Academy Awards: Nominated for several: best picture, actor, screenplay, supporting actor etc. Won for Best Actor (James Cagney). My Rating:
My dislike for theater runs deep and goes to my early days of college — VCU was home to a vibrant theater community, and early every morning they would flood the dining hall dressed in straight black forgetting that they weren’t on stage. It was kind of like a qualitative study where I got to see what the stress of performance did to one’s life first hand, not to mention the suspense of what Shafer Hall would do to my GI tract.
I set up my netflix cue with a bunch of random movies, so when Yankee Doodle Dandy arrived, I really had no idea what it was about. Once I read that summary on the DVD slip, I started to worry.
Somehow, I came out not only pleased, but ready to recommend this film to anyone who would listen to me Yammer about vaudeville, WWI and this “American as you get” film.
American Film Institute Ranking: #97/100
Academy Awards: None
Director: Howard Hawks
What is comedy?
It’s a tricky question to answer and is the crux of my problem with this movie. What makes someone laugh: do you prefer witty, ridiculous, crass, situational, ironic, play-on-words, role reversals, self-depreciating, or some combination of the above? This movie has universal appeal with a resounding unison of positive reviews. This is quite different from how it was described at the time of its release, with phrases such as “box-office poison” and such a bomb that it threatened Hepburn’s film career with critics.
Somehow through syndication, this movie gained a steamroller of momentum and now is regarded as the quintessential screwball, romantic comedy that created an entire genre. I can’t help but agree with the original opinion. While the movie appealed to my love of wacky and imaginative, the delivery made this one of the most frustrating films I’ve ever watched.