This movie is about the life of George M. Cohan, the man who wrote Grand Old Flag, Over There, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and other famous songs that have inspired Americans for nearly 100 years.
James Cagney was known for his tough gangster movies, so when this one came out, people were kind of weirded out when they saw him tap dancing around. But it was a hit. Some other cool facts about this movie:
- James Cagney won an Oscar for best actor.
- The girl who plays his sister is James Cagney’s sister in real life.
- Apparently Franklin D. Roosevelt talked like a robot.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: I want to try this, but I foresee myself failing miserably:
This film came out during WWII. In fact, according to an interview I watched with Joan Leslie (the lead actress in this film), Pearl Harbor was attacked shortly after this movie began filming. She said the whole cast and crew gathered around this radio listening to the horrific news.
When the broadcast ended, James Cagney said, “I think a prayer goes in here.” Everyone agreed and a prayer was offered. Then the director, Michael Curtiz, said something to the effect of, “Let’s get this thing right.”
And got it right they did. This is one of the most patriotic and uplifting movies of all time.
In many circles, patriotism is seen as naïve or globally unaware. But loving your country, defending your country, and being proud of the good and great things your fellow-citizens have accomplished is not naïve. In fact, it should be expected of any man or woman who has even an ounce of awareness of the sacrifices of our predecessors.
Patriotism resonates because of the Holy Spirit. God wants us to be able to put aside our personal, political and religious beliefs and stand shoulder to shoulder with each other at all times, and especially when evil forces threaten our nation or other nations.
Not everyone is asked to be a soldier. But you don’t have to be a soldier to pay honor and respect the men and women in the armed forces. You don’t have to be a soldier to vote. Or to pay your taxes honestly. Or to be a productive member of society.
As Ezra Taft Benson once said, “A citizen of this republic cannot do his duty and be an idle spectator.” Consider also this quote from John Stuart Mill:
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
At the end of this film, Franklin D. Roosevelt says to George Cohan, “A man may give his life to his country in many different ways…and quite often he isn’t the best judge of how much he has given.”
As we look outside ourselves and make sacrifices for the good of those around us, God will not only bless our country, but He will crown our good with brotherhood.
“And it came to pass that [Captain Moroni] rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.
“And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren…
“And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air.” – Alma 46:12-19