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James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy (1981)

Documentary about the actor James Cagney with interviews with him, Donald O'Connor and Pat O'Brian.


Richard Schickel




Credited cast:
James Cagney ... Himself
Treat Williams ... Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Milos Forman ... Himself
Norman Mailer ... Himself
Virginia Mayo ... Herself
Pat O'Brien ... Himself
Donald O'Connor ... Himself


During the filming of Ragtime, the 81-year old Cagney talks about his career. Cagney tells us about becoming a dancer and meeting his wife, his route from Broadway to Hollywood, the emergence of his tough-guy persona, and his post-war creations of insane characters. Donald O'Connor, Pat O'Brien, Milos Forman and others also try to distill what it is Cagney brings to the screen. Clips from several of his films illustrate their points. Norman Mailer says Cagney presented a tough guy who was decent. Another says he gave a tragic dimension to the street tough. For a third, he presented the dark side of the American dream. Cagney calls himself a lucky hoofer, a fresh mutt. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

1 December 1981 (USA) See more »

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User Reviews

James Cagney, one great actor
7 April 2005 | by ericcodySee all my reviews

James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy, a 1981 PBS documentary explores the career of one of Hollywood's most influential actors of the 1930,s, 1940,s and 1950's. This documentary accompanied the release of James Cagney's last film "RAGTIME" (1981) which ironically he came out of 20yrs of retirement to appear in. James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy is not a great documentary on Cagney, but it definitely sparks interest in the subject.

This film is told through narration from actor Treat Williams, top dance demonstrations from actor/dancer Bill O'Connor, film clips and an interview with the late, great James Cagney himself. I recommend this documentary as good reference material, but I wait for the day that a well researched documentary will be done on such a talented, charismatic and one of kind actor.

I gave this film *** good/could have been better. I saw it on video in the 1990's. Can't say it is still available.

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