Cecil Buffington's TOP 10 Favorite Movies

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Cecil Buffington TOP TEN All-Time Favorite Movies

Click on Titles for Scenes or Trailers from the movies

Eddie And The Cruisers

American Graffiti

Ride Beyond Vengeance

The Final Countdown

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Spider-man

Batman Begins

Grease

Yankee Doodle Dandy

The Paleface 

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Number ONE - Eddie and the Cruisers

Eddie and the Cruisers is a 1983 American film directed by Martin Davidson with the screenplay written by the director and Arlene Davidson, based on the novel by P. F. Kluge. The film is about a television reporter named Maggie Foley (Ellen Barkin) investigating the mysterious death of musician Eddie Wilson (Michael Paré) and the search for his band's second album, which disappeared from the vaults of Satin Records the day after Eddie's alleged death.

Only two cast members, Michael "Tunes" Antunes, the tenor saxophone player for John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, and Helen Schneider were professional musicians in the fictional band.

The film was not very successful at the box office, grossing USD$4.7 million in North America. It also received many negative to mixed reviews from critics. However, in the fall of 1984, the soundtrack album suddenly climbed the charts, as the film was rediscovered on cable television and home video, prompting the studio to re-release the album.

The film was followed by one sequel, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! in 1989. It was marketed with the tagline "Rebel. Rocker. Lover. Idol. Vanished."

Number THREE - Ride Beyond Vengeance

Ride Beyond Vengeance is a 1966 western film. It stars Chuck Connors, Michael Rennie, Kathryn Hays and Bill Bixby.

The film was directed by Bernard McEveety and produced by Andrew J. Fenady (written also by him) from the story "The Night of the Tiger" by Al Dewlen. Glenn Yarbrough sang the title song vocals. It was released in January 1966. The budget was an estimated $650,000.

Plot

A census taker (James MacArthur) tells the story of events that occurred in or near a Texas town called Cold Iron with a population of 754.

Jonas Trapp, a poor cowboy known as the Tiger, falls in love with a wealthy woman named Jessie Larkin and they intend to marry over the objections of her aunt (Gloria Grahame).

To gain the aunt's permission, Jessie pretends to be pregnant. Jonas marries her, but after a while he tires of his life in town and heads for the hills without her to become a buffalo hunter.

For more than 10 years, Jonas is gone. He amasses a small fortune of his own and decides it is finally time to return home. On the trail, Jonas is ambushed by three vicious men, Durham, Hood and Coates, who take his money and leave him for dead.

A farmer named Hanley finds the injured man and helps nurse him to health. Trapp, consumed by a desire for revenge, heads back for Cold Iron, where he discovers that wife Jessie is now engaged to another man, Durham.

Cast

  • Chuck Connors as Jonas Trapp, the Tiger
  • Michael Rennie as Brooks Durham
  • Joan Blondell as Mrs. Lavender
  • Kathryn Hays as Jessie Larkin Trapp
  • Claude Akins as Elwood Coates
  • Gloria Grahame as Bonnie Shelley
  • Gary Merrill as Dub Stokes
  • Bill Bixby as Johnsy Boy Hood
  • Paul Fix as Hanley
  • Marisa Mathes as Maria (as Marrisa Mathes)
  • Harry Harvey as Vogan (as Harry Harvey Sr.)
  • William Bryant as Bartender
  • Jamie Farr as Pete the Blacksmith
  • Frank Gorshin as Tod Wisdom
  • Larry Domasin as The Mexican Boy
  • Bill Catching as Drunk (as William Catching)
  • Robert Q. Lewis as The Hotel Clerk
  • James MacArthur as The Census Taker
  • Arthur O'Connell as The Narrator
  • Ruth Warrick as Aunt Gussie
  • Buddy Baer as Mr. Kratz

Number FIVE - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 American Western film directed by John Ford and starring James Stewart and John Wayne. The black-and-white film was released by Paramount Pictures. The screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck was adapted from a short story written by Dorothy M. Johnson.

In 2007 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

 Plot

Elderly U.S. Senator Ransom "Rance" Stoddard (James Stewart) and his wife Hallie arrive by train in the small town of Shinbone, to attend the funeral of an apparent nobody in the Western United States. They pay their respects to the dead man at the undertaker's establishment, where the senator is interrupted with a request for a newspaper interview. Stoddard grants the request and Hallie goes off with a friend to visit a burned-down house with obvious significance to her.

As the interview with the local reporter begins, the film flashes back several decades into the past as Stoddard reflects on his first arrival at Shinbone by stagecoach to establish a law practice, and subsequent events.

As the flashback begins, a gang of outlaws led by gunfighter Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) hold up the stagecoach. Stoddard is brutally beaten, left for dead and later rescued by local rancher Tom Doniphon (John Wayne). Stoddard is nursed back to health by restaurant owner Peter Ericson (John Qualen), his wife Nora (Jeanette Nolan) and daughter, Hallie (Vera Miles). It later emerges that Hallie is Doniphon's love interest.

Shinbone's townsfolk are regularly menaced by Valance and his gang. Local marshal Link Appleyard (Andy Devine) is ill prepared and unwilling to enforce the law. Doniphon is the only local courageous enough to challenge Valance's lawless behavior. On one occasion Doniphon even intervenes on Stoddard's behalf when Valance publicly humiliates the inept Easterner.

Stoddard is an advocate for justice under the law, not man. He earns the respect and affection of Hallie when he offers to teach her to read after he discovers, to her embarrassment, she's had no formal education. Stoddard's influence on Hallie and the town is further evidenced when he begins a school for the townspeople with Hallie's help.

In Shinbone, the local newspaper editor-publisher Dutton Peabody (Edmond O'Brien) writes a story about local ranch owners' opposition to the territory potential statehood. Valance convinces the ranchers that if they'll hire him, he can get elected as a delegate to represent the cattlemen's interest. Shinbone's residents meet to elect two delegates to send to the statehood convention at the territorial capital. Valance attempts to bully the townspeople into electing him as a delegate. Eventually, Stoddard and Peabody are chosen. Valance assaults and badly beats Peabody after an unflattering newspaper article is published. Sensing that Valance is out of control, Stoddard accepts a challenge to a gun duel despite his complete lack of skills. Stoddard miraculously kills Valance with one shot, to the surprise of everyone including himself. Hallie responds with tearful affection and Doniphon congratulates Stoddard on his success.

Sensing that he has lost Hallie's affections, Doniphon gets drunk in the saloon and drives out Valance's men who have been calling for Stoddard to be lynched. The barman tries to tell Doniphon's farmhand Pompey that, as a black man, he cannot be served, to which Doniphon angrily shouts: "Who says he can't? Pour yourself a drink, Pompey". Pompey instead drags Doniphon home, where the latter burns down the house he was building in anticipation of marrying Hallie.

Stoddard is hailed as "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and based on this achievement is nominated as the local representative to the statehood convention. At this point Doniphon tells Stoddard that it was he (Doniphon), hidden across the street, who shot and killed Valance, and not Stoddard. When asked, Doniphon replies he did it to please Hallie, which he now regrets because "she's your girl now". Pushing Stoddard to go back and stand for nomination, Doniphon says, "You taught her to read and write, now give her something to read and write about!"

Stoddard returns to the convention and is chosen as representative. He marries Hallie and eventually becomes the governor of the new state. He then becomes a two term U.S. senator, then the American ambassador to Great Britain, a U.S. senator again, and at the time of the funeral is the favorite for his party's nomination as vice-president.

The film returns to the present day and the interview ends. The newspaper man, understanding now the truth about the killing of Valance, burns his notes stating: "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend".

Stoddard and Hallie board the train for Washington, melancholy about the lie that led to their prosperous life. With the area becoming more and more civilized, Stoddard decides, to Hallie's delight, to retire from politics, return to the territory to set up a law practice. When Stoddard thanks the train conductor for the train ride to and from D.C. and the many courtesies extended to him by the railroad, the conductor says, "Nothing's too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance!"

 Cast

  • John Wayne as Tom Doniphon
  • James Stewart as Ransom Stoddard
  • Vera Miles as Hallie Stoddard
  • Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance
  • Edmond O'Brien as Dutton Peabody
  • Andy Devine as Marshal Link Appleyard
  • Ken Murray as Doc Willoughby
  • John Carradine as Maj. Cassius Starbuckle
  • Jeanette Nolan as Nora Ericson
  • John Qualen as Peter Ericson
  • Willis Bouchey as Jason Tully (conductor)
  • Carleton Young as Maxwell Scott
  • Woody Strode as Pompey
  • Denver Pyle as Amos Carruthers
  • Strother Martin as Floyd
  • Lee Van Cleef as Reese
  • Robert F. Simon as Handy Strong
  • O. Z. Whitehead as Herbert Carruthers
  • Paul Birch as Mayor Winder
  • Joseph Hoover as Charlie Hasbrouck (reporter for 'The Star')

Number SEVEN - Batman Begins

Batman Begins is a 2005 superhero film based on the fictional DC Comics character Batman, directed by Christopher Nolan. It stars Christian Bale as Batman, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Ken Watanabe, Tom Wilkinson, and Rutger Hauer. The film reboots the Batman film series, telling the origin story of the character and begins with Bruce Wayne's initial fear of bats, the death of his parents, and his journey to becoming Batman. It draws inspiration from classic comic book storylines such as The Man Who Falls, Batman: Year One, and Batman: The Long Halloween.

After a series of unsuccessful projects to resurrect Batman on screen following the 1997 critical failure of Batman & Robin, Nolan and David S. Goyer began work on the film in early 2003 and aimed for a darker and more realistic tone, with humanity and realism being the basis of the film. The goal was to get the audience to care for both Batman and Bruce Wayne. The film, which was primarily shot in England and Chicago, relied on traditional stunts and miniaturescomputer-generated imagery was used minimally. A new Batmobile (called the Tumbler) and a more mobile Batsuit were both created specifically for the film.

Batman Begins was both critically and commercially successful. The film opened on June 15, 2005 in the United States and Canada in 3,858 theaters. It grossed $48 million in its opening weekend, eventually grossing over $372 million worldwide. The film received an 84% overall approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Critics noted that fear was a common theme throughout the film, and remarked that it had a darker tone compared to previous Batman films. A sequel titled The Dark Knight was released in July 2008 and also saw the return of both Nolan and Bale to the franchise.

 Plot

A young Bruce Wayne falls down a well, and is attacked by bats. Bruce then awakens from this nightmare of his past, and is revealed to be a prisoner in Bhutan. He is approached by Henri Ducard, who speaks for Ra's al Ghul, leader of the League of Shadows, and invites him to train with the elite vigilante group. The narrative returns to Bruce's childhood, to the fateful night he witnessed his parents' murder by a mugger named Joe Chill. Chill is later arrested, and Bruce is taken home and raised by the family butler, Alfred Pennyworth.

Fourteen years later, Bruce returns to Gotham City from Princeton University, intent on killing Chill, whose prison sentence is being suspended in exchange for testifying against crime boss Carmine Falcone. Before he can act, however, one of Falcone's female assassins posing as a reporter kills Chill. Rachel Dawes, Bruce's childhood friend and now an assistant district attorney, is disgusted with Bruce's intent, telling him his father would be ashamed of him. That night, Bruce confronts Falcone, who tells the young man that his criminal empire is invincible because it runs on fear and Bruce, being the "Prince of Gotham", would never understand this because he has never felt real pain and suffering. Inspired, Bruce decides to travel the world for several years, learning the various ways of the criminal underworld, before himself becoming a criminal and being arrested. After Bruce's training in the League of Shadows, Ra's and Ducard tell Bruce his purpose: He must lead the League to destroy Gotham, which they believe is corrupt beyond saving. Bruce refuses to become a murderer and battles Ra's, burning the temple in the process, before making his escape. Ra's is killed by falling debris, but Bruce saves an unconscious Ducard and returns to Gotham.

Falcone now dominates the city. Bruce enlists the help of Sgt. Jim Gordon, one of the city's few honest police officers, and befriends Lucius Fox, a former board member of Wayne Enterprises. Fox helps Bruce acquire a prototype armored car and an experimental armored suit. With Alfred, Bruce finds another entrance to the cave under the well and creates a workshop, modifying his equipment to take up the identity of Batman. On his first night out as a vigilante, he intercepts a drug shipment, captures Falcone and provides Rachel with the evidence to indict him. Falcone and his men are transferred to Arkham Asylum with the help of the hospital's corrupt administrator, Dr. Jonathan Crane, who has been paying off Falcone to ship a toxic hallucinogen into Gotham City. Crane works with the toxin in his experiments, using his patients as guinea pigs. When Falcone demands a bigger share, Crane gasses Falcone with the same toxin, literally driving him insane with fear. While investigating the drugs, Batman encounters Crane, who also sprays him with the fear toxin. Alfred rescues him, using an antidote developed by Fox. Crane later summons Rachel to Arkham and shows her that the toxin has been introduced into Gotham's water supply from Arkham for weeks (it is only harmful in vapor form), and then infects her. Batman doses Crane with the toxin and interrogates him; Crane claims to be working for Ra's al Ghul, despite his apparent death, but before Batman can ask further, the police invade the asylum. Batman escapes with Rachel in the Batmobile and takes her to the cave, where he inoculates her and gives her two vials of antidote to pass on to Gordon – one for himself, the other for mass production. Crane, Batman explains, was only a pawn in a much larger scheme.

At Bruce's birthday celebration at Wayne Manor, he is confronted by Ducard, who reveals himself to be the real Ra's al Ghul, and has now arrived in Gotham personally to destroy the city. He had conspired with Crane to poison Gotham's water supply with the toxin, and now plans to vaporize it with a stolen device from Wayne Enterprises to cover all of Gotham in the poison, causing mass hysteria from the hallucinogen. Ra's reveals the League of Shadows has acted to stop corruption for centuries, and had even attacked Gotham before. They had created an artificial depression to financially cripple the city, but the deaths of Bruce's parents inspired the wealthy to take action. After Bruce pretends to be drunk to get everyone to leave, he and Ra's fight. Ra's' men burn down the mansion, release all the inmates at Arkham, and vaporize the water in the mains around the area. Although Wayne Manor is destroyed, Bruce escapes the inferno with help from Alfred. Rachel delivers the antidote to Gordon and wards off Crane, now calling himself Scarecrow, with a taser. Batman reveals his identity to Rachel and then has Gordon drive the Batmobile to Wayne Tower, the central hub of the Gotham elevated rail system. Ra's boards a train, planning to take the vaporizer to the main water-line hub at the tower and set off a chain reaction that will vaporize the entire water supply. Batman confronts Ra's on the train and the two fight. During their battle, Ra's realizes that Batman was never trying to stop the train, but instead sabotage it so it couldn't be stopped. Gordon destroys the elevated tracks. Batman escapes the train as it crashes, leaving Ra's to die.

Following the battle, Batman becomes a public hero and Bruce gains control of his company, having secretly bought a majority of its stock shares. He fires the former CEO, William Earle, and replaces him with Fox. However, he loses Rachel, who cannot bring herself to love both Bruce and Batman. Gordon, newly promoted to lieutenant, shows Batman the Bat-Signal and mentions a costumed criminal who leaves Joker playing cards at crime scenes. Batman promises to investigate, and disappears into the night.

 Cast

  • Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne / Batman: Wayne is a billionaire industrialist whose parents were killed by a mugger when he was eight years old. Traveling the world for several years to seek the means to fight injustice, he returns to Gotham. At night, Bruce becomes Batman, Gotham City's vigilante protector. Bale was cast on September 11, 2003,  having expressed interest in playing Batman since Darren Aronofsky was planning his own film adaptation.   Some of the early candidates for the Batman/Bruce Wayne role were Billy Crudup, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Joshua Jackson, Eion Bailey, and Cillian Murphy.   Bale felt the previous films underused Batman's character, overplaying the villains instead.   To best pose as Batman, Bale studied graphic novels and illustrations of the superhero.   Director Nolan said of Bale, "He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for."   Goyer stated that while some actors could play a great Bruce Wayne or a great Batman, Bale could portray both radically different personalities.   Bale described the part as playing four characters: the raging Batman persona; the shallow playboy façade Bruce uses to ward off suspicion; the vengeful young man; and the older, angrier Bruce who is discovering his purpose in life.   Bale's dislike of his costume, which heated up regularly, helped him get into a necessarily foul mood. He said, "Batman's meant to be fierce, and you become a beast in that suit, as Batman should be – not a man in a suit, but a different creature."   Since he had lost a great deal of weight in preparation for his role in The Machinist, Bale hired a personal trainer to help him gain 100 pounds (45 kg) in the span of only a couple of months to help him physically prepare for the role. He first went well over the weight required and created concern over whether he would look right for the part. Bale recognized that his large physique was not appropriate for Batman, who relies on speed and strategy. He lost the excess weight by the time filming began.   The role of Bruce Wayne at age eight was portrayed by Gus Lewis.
  • Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth: The trusted butler to Bruce Wayne's parents, who continues his loyal service to their son after their deaths. He is Bruce Wayne's closest confidant. Nolan felt Caine would effectively portray the foster father element of the character.   Although Alfred's family is depicted in the film as having served the Wayne family for generations, Caine created his own backstory, in that before becoming Wayne's butler, Alfred served in the Special Air Service. After being wounded, he was invited to the position of the Wayne family butler by Thomas Wayne because, "He wanted a butler, but someone a bit tougher than that, you know?" 
  • Liam Neeson as Henri Ducard: In reality Ra's al Ghul in disguise, Ducard trains Bruce in ninjutsu, a form of martial arts. Writer David Goyer said he felt Ra's was the most complex of all the Batman villains, comparing him to Osama bin Laden; "He's not crazy in the way that all the other Batman villains are. He's not bent on revenge; he's actually trying to heal the world. He's just doing it by very draconian means."   Neeson is commonly cast as a mentor, so the revelation that his character was the main villain was intended to shock viewers. 
  • Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes: Bruce's childhood friend who serves as Gotham City's assistant district attorney, fighting against the corruption in the city. Nolan found a "tremendous warmth and great emotional appeal" in Holmes, and also felt "she has a maturity beyond her years that comes across in the film and is essential to the idea that Rachel is something of a moral conscience for Bruce". Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rachel McAdams were in the running for the role.   Emma Lockhart portrays the young Rachel Dawes.
  • Gary Oldman as Sgt. James Gordon: One of the few uncorrupted Gotham City police officers. He was the officer on duty the night of the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents. In this way, he shares a special bond with the adult Bruce and thus with Batman. Nolan originally wanted to cast Oldman as a villain,   but when Chris Cooper turned down the role of Gordon to spend time with his family he decided that it would be refreshing for Oldman to play the role instead.   "I embody the themes of the movie which are the values of family, courage and compassion and a sense of right and wrong, good and bad and justice," Oldman said of his character. Oldman filmed most of his scenes in Britain.   Goyer said Oldman heavily resembled Gordon as drawn by David Mazzucchelli in Batman: Year One. 
  • Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane / The Scarecrow: A psychopharmacologist who works at Arkham Asylum and has developed fear-inducing toxins. He takes on the persona of the Scarecrow to use during his experiments, in which he uses his patients as human guinea pigs for his toxins. He works with Ra's al Ghul and Carmine Falcone. Nolan decided against Irish actor Murphy for Batman, before casting him as Scarecrow.   Murphy read numerous comics featuring the Scarecrow, and discussed making the character look less theatrical with Nolan. Murphy explained, "I wanted to avoid the Worzel Gummidge look, because he's not a very physically imposing man – he's more interested in the manipulation of the mind and what that can do."
  • Tom Wilkinson as Carmine Falcone: The ruler of the Gotham City underworld. He had shared a prison cell with Joe Chill after Joe murdered Wayne's parents. He had Chill murdered when he decided to testify against Falcone. He goes into business with Dr. Jonathan Crane and Ra's al Ghul by smuggling a fear toxin through a shipment and putting it in the city's water supply.
  • Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox: A high-ranking Wayne Enterprises employee who was demoted to working in the company's Applied Science Division, where he conducts advanced studies in biochemistry and mechanical engineering. Fox supplies Bruce with much of the gear necessary to carry out Batman's mission and is promoted to CEO when Bruce repossesses the company by the end of the film. Freeman was Goyer's first and only choice for the role. 

Other cast members include Rutger Hauer as William Earle, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises who takes the company public in the long-term absence of Bruce Wayne; Mark Boone Junior as Gordon's corrupt partner Detective Arnold Flass; Ken Watanabe as Ra's al Ghul's decoy; Larry Holden as district attorney Carl Finch; Colin McFarlane as Police commissioner Gillian B. Loeb; Linus Roache and Sara Stewart as Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce's parents; Richard Brake as Joe Chill, the Waynes' killer; Gerard Murphy as the corrupt High Court Judge Faden; Tim Booth as Victor Zsasz; Rade Šerbedžija as a homeless man, who is the last person to meet Bruce when he leaves Gotham, and the first civilian to see Batman, and Andrew Pleavin as a uniformed policeman. Actors John Foo, Joey Ansah, Spencer Wilding, Dave Legeno, Khan Bonfils, Rodney Ryan, Dean Alexandrou, James Embree, Emil Martirossian,Mark Strange and Chuen Tsou appear as members of the League of Shadows Warriors.

Number TEN - The Paleface

The Paleface is a 1948 comedy Western directed by Norman Z. McLeod, starring Bob Hope as "Painless Potter" and Jane Russell as Calamity Jane. In the film, Hope sings the song Buttons and Bows, which became his greatest hit by far when it came to record sales. The song also won the Academy Award for Best Song that year.

The film had a sequel, Son of Paleface, in 1952. In 1968, the actor Don Knotts remade the film as The Shakiest Gun in the West.

 Plot

Peter "Painless" Potter is a dentist of doubtful competence. Out west, after the partner of Calamity Jane is killed while trying to discover who's been illegally selling guns to Indians, the cowardly Painless ends up married to Jane, who needs to keep her true identity a secret.

One day while protecting everyone during a holdup, Jane humbly gives all the credit to Painless, who becomes the townsfolk's "brave" new hero.

 Cast

  • Bob Hope as Painless Potter
  • Jane Russell as Calamity Jane
  • Robert Armstrong as Terris
  • Iris Adrian as Pepper

Comments from Cecil Buffington

I probably could have chosen any of these as a co-number one if push had come to shove. They are all movies that I have no problem with watching over and over again as they pop up on television or as I pop them on disc in the DVD player when I get that urge to watch a movie.

I chose Eddie and the Cruisers as my all-time favorite primarily because it was so indicative of the early days of rock ‘n roll that I love so well. Sort of a throw-back to the 60’s or early 70’s. I think that was true of “American Graffiti", too. Both movies were filled with songs that were of the old-time rock and roll fun of my youth and early adulthood. I could very well have thrown in Bill Haley and “Rock Around the Clock” or perhaps Elvis Presley and “Jailhouse Rock” or “King Creole.”

I have two favorite westerns that came in at number three and number five. I probably like them both about equally. Other favorites are “The son’s of Katie Elder, Rio Bravo, Zorro’s Fighting Legion with Reed Hadley and the old Walt Disney productions of all the “Davy Crockett” films from 1955/56. Chuck Connors had the lead in “Ride Beyond Vengeance”, my favorite western. I also liked him as the TV “Rifleman.” John Wayne was always a favorite in early westerns as was Charles Starrett ( The Durango Kid ) Lash Larue and Whip Wilson. Tim McCoy, Bob Steel, Jimmy Wakley, Tex Ritter and the two big stars, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were always high on my cowboy movie viewing list. I have a large collection of old western DVD’s with hundreds of movies starring these old-timers. I have viewed everyone of them at one time or another. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" has always been one of my favorites.

Lee Marvin was excellent in that movie and later in “Cat Ballou.” While I may not have agreed with the political views of ultra-liberal feminist Jane Fonda, she was outstanding in the Ballou movie. It is probably in my top 15 all-time favorites.

If ever there has been a movie that fascinates me, it’s  "The Final Countdown” with Kirk Douglas. A fabulous story that has great historical information on the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. My number five favorite movie will get you to thinking. A really great science fiction film. While I didn’t rank “The Day the Earth Stood Still” from 1952 with Michael Rennie, it ranks right in there with the best Sci Fi movies of all time.

Number six and seven just happened to be super-hero movies. "Spider-man" number one and "Batman Begins" were simply outstanding movies. All the sequels have also been good of both productions. There will be other movies featuring comic book super-heroes that will move high onto my favorite ratings as time moves along, but those two are my favorites at this time. Chris Reeve had several good performances as “Superman” with Superman number two being my favorite among the Reeve movies. I enjoy the old time “Captain Marvel” serial from 1948 as well as the 1949 “Phantom” serial. Both starred Tom Tyron in the lead role.

Two of the greatest musicals ever were “Grease” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” I still like to watch them from time to time when they show up on television. I also have them, as I do all my favorites on DVD for viewing as I pretty much please.

I couldn’t leave Bob Hope and “Paleface” off my favorite list at number ten. Bob Hope has to be the best comedian ever to make a full-length movie. I could have very well added “Caddy-Shack and “The Blues Brothers” to the list. They were very good and funny movies.

I was very tempted to add “Taken” with Liam Neelsen to my list, but just could not move it ahead of my other selections. I do think “Taken” is one of the best action movies of the past 20 years. That’s how much I liked that particular movie.

While I know there will be some quizzical views at some of these selections, they primarily meet my taste in movies that are entertaining and movies that I will watch over and over again. A movie that I deem as good that won’t draw a second viewing will never be called one of my favorites. They are just another “good” movie. There are thousands of those “good” movies out there.

All movie synopsis presentations are from Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia.

Number TWO - American Graffitti

American Graffiti is a 1973 coming of age film co-written/directed by George Lucas, and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford. Set in 1962 Modesto, California, American Graffiti is a study of the cruising and rock and roll cultures popular among the post–World War II baby boom generation. The film is a nostalgic portrait of teenage life in the early 1960s told in a series of vignettes, featuring the story of a group of teenagers and their adventures within one night.

The genesis of American Graffiti was in Lucas's own teenage years in early 1960s Modesto. He was unsuccessful in pitching the concept to financiers and distributors, but finally found favor at Universal Pictures after United Artists, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Paramount Pictures turned him down. Filming was initially set to take place in San Rafael, California, but the production crew was denied permission to shoot beyond a second day. As a result, most filming for American Graffiti was done in Petaluma.

American Graffiti was released to universal critical acclaim and financial success, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Produced on a $775,000 budget, the film has turned out to be one of the most profitable movies of all time. Since its initial release, American Graffiti has garnered an estimated return of well over $200 million in box office gross and home video sales, not including merchandising. In 1995, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film culturally significant and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Number FOUR - The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown is a 1980 science fiction film about a modern aircraft carrier that travels through time to just before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. It was directed by Don Taylor, and stars Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, James Farentino, Katharine Ross and Charles Durning.

 Plot

Set in 1980, the supercarrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) takes on a civilian observer, Warren Lasky (Martin Sheen) during a training mission in the Pacific Ocean. Out in the Pacific, the ship encounters a strange storm-like vortex which disappears after the ship passes through it. Initially unsure of what has happened, they eventually realize that they have been transported back in time to December 6th, 1941, just one day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The commander of the Nimitz, Captain Yelland (Kirk Douglas), has the dilemma of deciding whether to use the full power of Nimitz to destroy the Japanese fleet and alter the course of history, or to stand by and allow history to proceed as "normal." After some intense debates on-board, the captain settles the dispute by "going by the book": to defend America "past, present, and future" if attacked, and otherwise, to obey the orders of the then-current Commander-in-Chief, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Yelland begins to execute the attack against the incoming Japanese forces, ordering jet fighters into the air. But before they can reach the attacking Japanese squadrons, the time storm returns and begins to send the ship back to 1980. Yelland recalls the strike force and they, too, are caught within the storm and returned to 1980, where all of them land safely.

 Production

Most of the film was shot on the Nimitz with full cooperation from the Navy.  Many of the crew members were used as extras, a few with speaking parts.

 Release

The Final Countdown was released to theatres in the United States on August 1, 1980. The Final Countdown was released by Blue Underground on a two-DVD set on March 30, 2004.  A high-definition Blu-ray 2-disk set was released November 4, 2008.

Number SIX - Spider-man

Spider-Man is a 2002 American superhero film, the first in the Spider-Man film series based on the fictional Marvel Comics character Spider-Man. It was directed by Sam Raimi and written by David Koepp. It stars Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, a high-school student who turns to crimefighting after developing spiderlike powers, along with Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, Kirsten Dunst as Peter's love interest, and James Franco as his best friend.

After being stuck in development hell for nearly 25 years, the film was licensed for a worldwide release by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 1999 after it acquired James Cameron's original scriptment. Directors Roland Emmerich, Tim Burton, Chris Columbus, and David Fincher were considered to direct the project before Raimi was hired as director in 2000. Koepp wrote the script, using Cameron's scriptment as a basis, and it was revised by Scott Rosenberg and Alvin Sargent during production.

Filming took place in California and New York City from January until June 2001. Spider-Man was released on May 3, 2002, and became a critical and financial success. With $821.71 million worldwide, it was 2002's third-highest-grossing film and is the 27th highest-grossing film of all time. Spider-Man was, for its time, the only film to reach $100 million dollars in its first weekend, the largest opening weekend gross of all time, and the most successful film based on a comic book. The film's success led to a successful film trilogy composed of it, Spider-Man 2 (2004) and Spider-Man 3 (2007), all directed by Raimi and starring Maguire, Dunst and Franco.

 Plot

The story describes the transformation of high-school senior Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) into a spiderlike superhero and the beginning of his career as a crime fighter. Peter lives in Forest Hills, a quiet neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens, with his Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson) and Aunt May (Rosemary Harris). He secretly loves Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), a warm-hearted girl next door, but he is too shy to approach her. His friend Harry Osborn (James Franco) is the son of Dr. Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), president of the Oscorp manufacturing corporation, which is working to win a contract to supply weapons to the United States Army.

On a field trip to a genetics laboratory, Peter is bitten by a genetically engineered spider. He passes out in his bedroom at home, and the next day his vision is perfect, he has become more muscular, his wrists emit web strings, and his reflexes are super-quick. At school, he saves Mary Jane from a split-second fall and easily defeats her bullying boyfriend in a fistfight. Realizing that the spider's bite has given him spiderlike powers, he trains himself to scale walls, jump between rooftops, and swing through the city.

Peter enters a wrestling tournament, hoping to win $3,000 so he can buy a sports car to impress Mary Jane. On the day of the tournament, Ben tries to give him some fatherly advice, but Peter lashes out at him. At the tournament, the announcer presents Peter as "The Amazing Spider-Man". Peter defeats his opponent (Macho Man Randy Savage), but the man in charge only gives Peter $100 for winning the match early. When a thief robs the man, Peter takes his revenge by allowing the robber to escape, but he discovers later that the thief killed Uncle Ben during his getaway. Feeling responsible for Ben's death, and feeling guilty for rejecting his advice, Peter dedicates himself to fighting crime as Spider-Man. He makes money by selling pictures of himself to Daily Bugle newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons).

Meanwhile, under pressure from the military, Norman tests Oscorp's dangerous new performance-enhancing chemical on himself. The chemical makes him stronger, but he also develops a maniacal alter ego. He immediately murders his assistant, then kills several of his competitor's scientists from the air, wearing an artificial exoskeleton and standing on a small flying platform called a "glider". After Oscorp's directors fire him, he flies to an Oscorp-sponsored fair and kills them before Spider-Man drives him away. Jameson dubs Norman's alter ego the "Green Goblin". After Spider-Man refuses the Goblin's offer to work together and Norman secretly discovers that Peter is Spider-Man, the Green Goblin attacks Aunt May.

As they watch over May in the hospital, Mary Jane tells Peter she loves Spider-Man, and Peter expresses his own feelings for her. Harry sees them holding hands, and after he tells his father about their love for each other, revealing that Spider-Man has feelings for Mary Jane, the Goblin lures Spider-Man to the top of the Queensboro Bridge by taking Mary Jane and a Roosevelt Island Tramway car full of children hostage. He drops both at the same time, but Spider-Man saves them all, and he takes him to an abandoned building for a fight. There the Goblin plans to impale Peter with his glider, but Peter with his spider-sense dodges it, due to which the attack backfires and he impales himself. Spider-Man unmasks the Goblin, and Norman dies after asking Peter not to tell Harry that he (Norman) was the Green Goblin.

At Norman’s funeral, having seen Spider-Man bring Norman's body to the mansion, Harry vows to Peter that he will kill Spider-Man to avenge Norman's death. Mary Jane confesses her love to Peter and kisses him, but Peter insists that they can only be friends, afraid that she would suffer further harm if Spider-Man's enemies knew that he loves her. Walking away from Mary Jane, who is now in tears, he recalls Ben's words, "With great power comes great responsibility," and accepts his new life as Spider-Man.

Cast

"I felt like I was an outsider. I think what happened to me made me develop this street sense of watching people and working out what made them tick, wondering whether I could trust them or not. I went to a lot of schools along the coast in California, made few friends and stayed with aunts, uncles and grandparents while my folks tried to make ends meet. It was tough. We had no money."
— Tobey Maguire on identifying with Peter Parker.

  • Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man: Born in 1984, Peter is an academically brilliant but socially inept boy who is bitten by a genetically modified spider and gains spider-like abilities. Maguire was cast as Peter in July 2000,   having been Sam Raimi's primary choice for the role after he saw The Cider House Rules. The studio was initially hesitant to cast someone who did not seem to fit the ranks of "adrenaline-pumping, tail-kicking titans",  but Maguire managed to impress studio executives with his audition. The actor was signed for a deal in the range of $3 to $4 million with higher salary options for two sequels.  To prepare, Maguire was trained by a physical trainer, a yoga instructor, a martial arts expert, and a climbing expert, taking several months to improve his physique.   Maguire studied spiders and worked with a wire man to simulate the arachnidlike motion, and had a special diet.
The studio had expressed interest in actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Freddie Prinze, Jr,  Chris Klein, Wes Bentley, and Heath Ledger.   DiCaprio had been considered by James Cameron for the role in 1995,   while Raimi joked of Prinze that "[he] won't even be allowed to buy a ticket to see this film."   In addition, actors Scott Speedman, Jay Rodan, and James Franco were involved in screen tests for the lead role.
  • Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn / Green Goblin: CEO of Oscorp who tests an unstable strength enhancer on himself and becomes the insane and powerful Green Goblin. Unaware of Spider-Man's true identity, he also sees himself as a father figure for Peter, ignoring his own son, Harry. Dafoe was cast as Osborn in November 2000.   Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, and Jim Carrey turned down the role.   Dafoe insisted on wearing the uncomfortable costume as he felt that a stuntman would not convey the character's necessary body language. The 580-piece suit took half an hour to put on.
  • Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson: The girl whom Peter Parker has developed a crush since he was six years old. Mary Jane has an abusive father, and aspires to become an actress, but becomes a waitress at a run down diner, a fact she hides from her boyfriend Harry. Before Raimi cast Dunst, he had expressed his interest in casting Alicia Witt.   Dunst decided to audition after learning Maguire had been cast, feeling the film would have a more independent feel.[15] Dunst earned the role a month before shooting in an audition in Berlin.
  • James Franco as Harry Osborn: Before being cast as Peter's best friend and flatmate, Franco had screen tested for Spider-Man himself.
  • Cliff Robertson as Ben Parker: May Parker's husband and Peter Parker's uncle, a fired electrician who is trying to find a new job. He is killed by a carjacker whom Peter failed to stop, and leaves Peter with the message, "With great power comes great responsibility."
  • Rosemary Harris as May Parker: Ben Parker's wife and Peter Parker's aunt. May is a devout Christian who is highly aware of Peter's love for Mary Jane.
  • J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson: The grouchy publisher of the Daily Bugle who considers Spider-Man a criminal. Nonetheless he has a good side and pays Peter for photos of Spider-Man, and refuses to tell the Green Goblin the identity of the photographer.
  • Joe Manganiello as Eugene "Flash" Thompson: A repugnant high school student who bullies Peter, and is defeated in a fight after Peter inherits his spider powers.
  • Bill Nunn as Joseph "Robbie" Robertson: The kindly editor at the Daily Bugle, who on occasion helps Peter.
  • Michael Papajohn as The Carjacker: The criminal who robs the wrestling manager who stiffs Peter Parker for his ring performance and murders Ben Parker (although the murderer was retconned as Flint Marko / Sandman in Spider-Man 3). He was killed from falling from a window when confronted by Peter. In Spider-Man 3, it is learned that his name is Dennis Carradine.
  • Elizabeth Banks as Betty Brant: As seen in past Spider-Man comics, Betty Brant is Jameson's secretary who has a bit of a soft spot for Peter.

Bruce Campbell, a long-time colleague of director Sam Raimi, cameoed as the announcer at the wrestling ring Peter takes part in. Raimi himself appeared off-screen, throwing popcorn at Peter as he enters the arena to wrestle Bonesaw McGraw (played by former professional wrestler "Macho Man" Randy Savage).   Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee also had a cameo, in which he asks Peter, "Hey kid, would you like a pair of these glasses? They're the kind they wore in X-Men." The scene was cut, and Lee only briefly appears in the film to grab a young girl from falling debris during the battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin in Times Square. R&B/soul singer Macy Gray appears as herself. Lucy Lawless, star of Xena: Warrior Princess (produced by Raimi), also appears as a punk rock girl. One of the stunt performers in this film is actor Johnny Tri Nguyen.   Kickboxer Benny "The Jet" Urquidez has an uncredited cameo as a mugger.

Number EIGHT - Grease

Grease is a 1978 American musical film directed by Randal Kleiser and based on Warren Casey's and Jim Jacobs's 1971 musical of the same name about two lovers in a 1950s high school. The film stars John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing, and Jeff Conaway. It was successful both critically and at the box office; its soundtrack album ended 1978 as the second-best selling album of the year in the United States, behind the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever, another film starring Travolta.

 Plot

In the Summer of 1959, local boy Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and vacationing Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) meet at the beach and fall in love. When the summer comes to an end, Sandy, who is going back to Australia, frets that they may never meet again, but Danny tells her that their love is "only the beginning". The animated opening credits follow ("Grease"), introducing the primary cast.

On the first day of school at Rydell High following the end of summer, Danny, a greaser, is reunited with his friends, the T-Birds: his bad-boy best friend Kenickie (Jeff Conaway) and their three bumbling sidekicks, Doody (Barry Pearl), Putzie (Kelly Ward), and Sonny (Michael Tucci). The Pink Ladies, the T-Birds' female counterparts, include tough-talking leader Betty Rizzo (Stockard Channing), who sees the error of her bad-girl ways during the musical, sophisticated Marty (Dinah Manoff), and juvenile Jan (Jamie Donnelly). They arrive and claim that they're going to "rule the school" in their senior year. Sandy, whose family have unexpectedly cancelled their plans to return to Australia, enrolls at Rydell and is shown around the school by the air-headed but friendly Frenchy (Didi Conn), another Pink Lady. At lunchtime, Danny and Sandy share memories of their summer romance with their respective friends, unaware of the other's presence at the school ("Summer Nights"). Rizzo is surprised when Sandy reveals Danny's name on the way back to class, but the Pink Ladies keep quiet about Danny's presence at the school.

The Pink Ladies decide to reunite Danny and Sandy. Initially ecstatic upon seeing Sandy again, Danny quickly attempts to cover his excitement and maintain his cool image in front of the T-Birds, which upsets Sandy. Frenchy decides to cheer Sandy up by inviting her to a slumber party at her house with the other Pink Ladies. However, Sandy's naïve behavior irritates the other girls. Rizzo leads the girls in mocking Sandy ("Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee") after Sandy leaves the room and even has Frenchy participating. When Sandy returns, she is embarrassed to find her new friends making fun of her. The T-Birds turn up outside the house, Rizzo impulsively leaves the party, and it is revealed that Kenickie is her boyfriend. Kenickie drops the other T-Birds like a stone, much to their disgust, except Danny, who leaves of his own accord, and drives off for some quality time with Rizzo. Later, Sandy wanders outside where she confronts her feelings about still being in love with Danny ("Hopelessly Devoted to You", a song that did not appear in the original musical).

Rizzo and Kenickie park in a rundown part of town and make out passionately in the back seat of his car. After a very passionate canoodling session, during which Rizzo reveals her first name, Kenickie gets out a condom and they prepare to have sex. The condom breaks, but the couple are unable to resist each other and decide to have sex anyway. However, they are soon interrupted by Leo (Dennis C. Stewart), who is the leader of the T-Birds' rival gang the Scorpions, and his girlfriend, Cha-Cha (Annette Charles). Leo then damages Kenickie's car. Kenickie takes the car to the school's workshop for a tune-up, and Danny manages to convince the boys that it could become a top-of-the-line sportscar ("Greased Lightning").

Soon afterward, Danny sees Sandy having a milkshake with a jock named Tom Chisholm (Lorenzo Lamas). Tom had shown interest in her when he chatted to her at the pep rally, but they are clearly just friends in view of Sandy's earlier thoughts. Regretting his unkind behavior, Danny attempts to win Sandy back by taking up sports. Although he is hopeless at everything in terms of basketball, wrestling and baseball, Coach Calhoun (Sid Caesar) suggests Danny try his hand at track. Although Danny has a natural ability for running, he injures himself while Sandy is present. Sandy is worried in spite of herself and goes to see if he is all right. Danny apologizes for his behavior again, Sandy confesses that she still has feelings for him and they go on a date. Unfortunately, it is interrupted when the T-Birds and Pink Ladies show up. Meanwhile, Frenchy, who has left Rydell to pursue her dream of being a beautician, has had difficulty in all her classes at beauty school, eventually dying her hair bubblegum pink. She is unsure what to do until her guardian teen angel (Frankie Avalon) appears to her and suggests she return to Rydell ("Beauty School Dropout").

During the school dance, which is also being broadcast live on national television, Rizzo attempts to get at Kenickie by going to the dance with Leo. However, Kenickie retaliates by going with Cha-Cha. Meanwhile, Danny takes Sandy and Doody takes Frenchy. Pink lady Marty flirts with the DJ Vince Fontaine. During the dance competition, Danny and Sandy are the last couple left, but as Sandy is dragged away by Sonny, Cha-Cha, who is also an old girlfriend of Danny's, aggressively begins dancing with him. Danny and Cha-Cha ultimately win the contest, but during their spotlight dance, Putzie, Sonny, and Doody moon the cameras. In an attempt to make up with Sandy, Danny takes her to a drive-in movie where he gives Sandy his ring, which she interprets as showing how much he cares about her. However, Danny makes several passes at Sandy, which cause her to run off. Danny realizes how much Sandy means to him ("Sandy").

Rizzo tells Marty that she has missed a period and believes she might be pregnant, but makes her promise not to tell anyone. The rumor is immediately spread around school, and when Kenickie offers to help, Rizzo rebuffs him, claiming that he isn't the father. A couple of days later, Kenickie and the T-Birds meet the Scorpions for a car race at Thunder Road. Everyone comes to watch except Rizzo, who can't face seeing Kenickie. Patty Simcox (Susan Buckner) and her friends joke about Rizzo's reputation, inciting Rizzo to vindicate her bad-girl image ("There Are Worse Things I Could Do"). Sandy, who misses Danny dreadfully, decides to try and patch things up between them at the race. Kenickie is knocked out when his own car door swings into his face, forcing Danny to race in his stead, winning the race. Sandy is delighted but realizes she and Danny are still a world apart unless she takes drastic action ("Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise)").

As the school year comes to a close, the group enjoys a carnival at the school. Rizzo reveals that she is not pregnant after all, and she and Kenickie are finally reunited. Danny has earned a letter in track but the T-Birds resent his new image, viewing it as desertion. Sandy suddenly appears in a tight black outfit and leather jacket, looking more like Rizzo than herself, and is the center of attention at the carnival. She tells Danny that she has done it all for him, and he reciprocates, ("You're the One That I Want"). As they climb into Danny's car it takes off into the air. The pair wave back to the others, who are still singing as Danny and Sandy fly off into the sky ("We Go Together"). The whole class waves goodbye followed by the credits rolling in the style of a yearbook as the film's theme song is played again.

Cast

Principal cast
  • John Travolta as Danny Zuko (Leader of the T-Birds)
  • Olivia Newton-John as Sandy Olsson
  • Stockard Channing as Betty Rizzo (Leader of the Pink Ladies)
  • Jeff Conaway as Kenickie
The T-Birds
  • Barry Pearl as Doody
  • Michael Tucci as Sonny LaTierri, the jokester of the T-Birds
  • Kelly Ward as Putzie
The Pink Ladies
  • Didi Conn as Frenchy
  • Jamie Donnelly as Jan, the immature Pink Lady
  • Dinah Manoff as Marty Maraschino, the sexy and sophisticated Pink Lady
School Staff/Others
  • Eve Arden as Principal McGee
  • Frankie Avalon as The Teen Angel
  • Joan Blondell as Vi
  • Edd Byrnes as Vince Fontaine
  • Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun
  • Alice Ghostley as Mrs. Murdock
  • Dody Goodman as Blanche Hodel
  • Sha-Na-Na as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers
Other characters
  • Susan Buckner as Patty Simcox
  • Dennis C. Stewart as Leo Balmudo
  • Annette Charles as Charlene "Cha-Cha" DiGregorio
  • Eddie Deezen as Eugene Felsnic
  • Fannie Flagg as Nurse Wilkins
  • Lorenzo Lamas as Tom Chisolm
  • Dick Patterson as Mr. Rudie
  • Ellen Travolta as Waitress
  • Darrell Zwerling as Mr. Lynch
  • Michael Biehn as Mike (uncredited

Number NINE - Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 American biographical musical film about George M. Cohan the actor / singer / dancer / playwright / songwriter / producer / theatre owner / director / choreographer known as "The Man Who Owns Broadway",  starring James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston and Richard Whorf, and featuring Irene Manning, George Tobias, Rosemary DeCamp and Jeanne Cagney.

The movie was written by Robert Buckner and Edmund Joseph, and directed by Michael Curtiz. According to the special edition DVD, significant and uncredited improvements were made to the script by the famous "script doctors" twin brothers Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein.

 Background and production

The song "The Yankee Doodle Boy" (a.k.a. "Yankee Doodle Dandy") was Cohan's trademark piece, a patriotic pastiche drawing from the lyrics and melody of the old
`

 

James Cagney as George  M. Cohan

Revolutionary War number, "Yankee Doodle". Other Cohan tunes in the movie include "Give My Regards to Broadway", "Harrigan", "Mary's a Grand Old Name", "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Over There".

Cagney was a fitting choice for the role, as a fellow Irish-American who had been a song-and-dance man himself early in his career. His unique and seemingly odd presentation style, of half-singing and half-reciting the songs, reflected the style that Cohan himself used. His natural dance style and physique were also a good match for Cohan. Newspapers at the time reported that Cagney intended to consciously imitate Cohan's song-and-dance style, but to play the normal part of the acting in his own style. Although director Curtiz was famous for being a taskmaster, he also gave his actors some latitude. Cagney and other players improvised a number of "bits of business," as Cagney called them.

Although a number of the biographical particulars of the movie are Hollywood-ized fiction (omitting the fact that Cohan divorced and remarried, for example, and taking some liberties with the chronology of Cohan's life), care was taken to make the sets, costumes and dance steps match the original stage presentations. This effort was aided significantly by a former associate of Cohan's, Jack Boyle, who knew the original productions well. Boyle also appeared in the film in some of the dancing groups.

Cohan is shown performing as a singing and dancing version of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The reality of Roosevelt's confinement to a wheelchair due to polio was kept from the general public at the time. In the film, Roosevelt never leaves his chair when meeting Cohan.

The movie poster for this film was the first ever produced by noted poster designer Bill Gold. This movie also has an inside joke about movies: when Cohan "retires" in the 1930s and several teenagers (who know nothing about his career) ask him if he had ever been in the movies, he remarks that he had been an actor in the "legitimate theater"!

 Synopsis

In the early days of WW2, Cohan comes out of retirement to star as US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Rodgers and Hart musical I'd Rather Be Right. On the first night, he's summoned to meet the President at the White House, who presents him with a Congressional Gold Medal (in fact, this happened several years previously). Cohan is overcome, and chats with Roosevelt, recalling his early days on the stage. The film flashes back to his supposed birth on July 4, whilst his father is performing on the vaudeville stage.

Cohan and his sister join the family act as soon as they can learn to dance, and soon The Four Cohans are performing successfully. But George gets too cocky as he grows up and is blacklisted by theatrical producers for being troublesome. He leaves the act and hawks his songs unsuccessfully around producers. In partnership with another struggling writer, Sam Harris, he finally interests a producer and they are on the road to success. He also marries Mary, a young singer/dancer.

As his star ascends, he persuades his now struggling parents to join his act, eventually vesting some of his valuable theatrical properties in their name.

Cohan retires, but returns to the stage several times, culminating in the role of the US President. As he leaves the White House, he performs a dance step down the stairs (which Cagney thought up before the scene was filmed and performed with no rehearsal). Outside, he joins a military parade, where the soldiers are singing 'Over There'. Not knowing that he's the composer, they jokingly invite Cohan to join in, which he does.

Cast

Cast notes:

  • James Cagney reprised the role of George M. Cohan in the movie The Seven Little Foys (1955), but agreed only on the condition that he receive no money – he did the film as a tribute to Eddie Foy. In Yankee Doodle Dandy, Eddie Foy, Jr. played the role of his own father.
  • Actress Jeanne Cagney, who played the part of Cohan's sister, was James Cagney's real-life sister.  Cagney's brother, William Cagney, was the Associate Producer of the film. 
  • Rosemary DeCamp, who played the mother of George M. Cohan, played by James Cagney, was, in fact, 11 years younger than Cagney.
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was played by Captain Jack Young, a lookalike who is seen only from the back. An impressionist, Art Gilmore, provided the voice of Roosevelt, uncredited.
  • Uncredited cast members include Eddie Acuff, Murray Alper, Walter Brooke, Georgia Carroll, Glen Cavender, Spencer Charters, Wallis Clark, William B. Davidson, Ann Doran, Tom Dugan, Bill Edwards, Frank Faylen, Pat Flaherty, James Flavin, William Forrest, William Gillespie, Joe Gray, Creighton Hale, John Hamilton, Harry Hayden, Stuart Holmes, William Hopper, Eddie Kane, Fred Kelsey, Vera Lewis, Audrey Long, Hank Mann, Frank Mayo, Lon McCallister, Edward McWade, George Meeker, Dolores Moran, Charles Morton, Jack Mower, Paul Panzer, Francis Pierlot, Clinton Rosemond, Syd Saylor, Frank Sully, Dick Wessel, Leo White and Dave Willock.

James Cagney as George M. Cohan performing
"
The Yankee Doodle Boy" from Little Johnny Jones

 Awards and honors

The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Cagney), Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound, Recording. It was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Walter Huston), Best Director, Best Film Editing for George Amy, Best Picture and Best Writing, Original Story. In 1993, Yankee Doodle Dandy was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

American Film Institute recognition

  • 1998: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies - #100
  • 2004: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs - #71
    • The Yankee Doodle Boy
  • 2005: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:
    • "My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you." - #97
  • 2006: AFI's 100 Years of Musicals - #18
  • 2006: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers - #88
  • 2007: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - #98

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