Director: Michael Curitz
Starring Cast: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf
The composer, singer and dancer George M. Cohan (Cagney) has been invited to meet President Franklin D. Roosevelt whom he has recently “spoofed” on a musical comedy called “I’d rather be right”. He tells the president his rags to riches life story. In his childhood, Cohan travelled in a variety show with his parents (Huston & DeCamp) and sister (Jeanne Cagney). He broke with the family act and headed for Broadway with another young hopeful called Mary (Leslie) whom he eventually marries. It takes a long time for his career to take off but, now, he has dozens of shows to his name and many well loved published songs. The President gives him a congressional medal, after which he goes out to join in a World War II parade where young soldiers are singing his World War 1 song “Over There”.
George Cohan’s life and career were firmly tidied up and sanitized for this musical, however both his amazing output of music, especially such heartfelt patriotic numbers as “Grand Old Flag” and “Over There”, and Cagney’s 100% input into the movie role (earning him a deserved Oscar) did give the USA a much needed boost at that miserable point in World War II. This was the first black and white film to be colourised digitally for its 1985 re-release, a true musical gem from a golden age.