AFI Movie Club: YANKEE DOODLE DANDY – American Film Institute
Yankee Doodle Dandy Film Still - James Cagney, Jeanne Cagney, Rosemary DeCamp, and Walter Huston



YANKEE DOODLE DANDY appears on five of AFI’s lists of the greatest American films – most notably ranked #18 on the AFI’s 100 YEARS OF MUSICALSIn 1974, the film’s star James Cagney was the second person honored with the AFI Life Achievement Award – the inaugural recipient was noted film director John Ford!  


Watch Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson announce the film!


Movie Trivia about YANKEE DOODLE DANDY

DID YOU KNOW that the real-life George M. Cohan composed over 500 songs? He is remembered as “the man who owned Broadway” and had a defining role in transitioning vaudeville to the American musical standards we know today! 

– DID YOU KNOW that YANKEE DOODLE DANDY was a family affair? It was the first time James Cagney appeared in a film with his sister Jeanne Cagney, and associate producer William Cagney was their brother! 

 DID YOU KNOW that cinematographer James Wong Howe filmed more than 130 feature films? He won two Academy Awards® from his 10 nominations and pioneered camera technologies, including deep focus, wide-angle lenses and hand-held cameras. 

DID YOU KNOW that James Cagney was several years older than the actress who played his mother, Rosemary DeCamp? 

DID YOU KNOW that Warner Brothers sold war bonds instead of tickets for the film’s New York City premiere and raised over $5 million? That’s nearly $75 million today! 

DID YOU KNOW the filmmakers rushed post-production so George M. Cohan, who was in ailing health, could see YANKEE DOODLE DANDY before he died? Cohan attended a special screening and read rave reviews, but he passed away two months before its wide release. 

DID YOU KNOW that YANKEE DOODLE DANDY won three of its eight Academy Award® nominations, including a Best Actor Oscar® for James Cagney? It was his first and only Oscar® in a career that spanned 50 years. 

DID YOU KNOW that James Cagney recreated the role of George M. Cohan in THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS (1955)? The film features a dance duet with Cagney and Bob Hope. 

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions 

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-YANKEE DOODLE DANDY was released while WWII was still raging in Europe, but it takes place during WWI. How do you think audiences received a patriotic film at that time?  

-Did you know who George M. Cohan was? Why do you think he made such an important impact on the world? 

-The story of YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is portrayed with narrative devices that may be unfamiliar to audiences today. Can you name some of these elements of the story? 

-How would you define patriotism? Do you think it has the same meaning in today’s world as it did when YANKEE DOODLE DANDY was released? 

-Can you name any other James Cagney movies? 

-Why do you think YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is still so beloved after nearly 80 years?  

-How would you rate YANKEE DOODLE DANDY? 

Take a stroll down AFI history lane and watch James Cagney’s AFI Life Achievement Award speech.

In this exclusive AFI Archive video, watch Kirk Douglas, Frank Gorshin and George Segal do a little song and dance for James Cagney at the AFI Life Achievement Award Gala.



New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

In this time when we are reminded “There’s no place like home,” AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.


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