Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stubs Goes Blu(-ray) – Yankee Doodle Dandy

Stubs Goes Blu(-Ray) is an occasional series wherein we reexamine a favorite classic that receives an enhanced presentation. We thought we'd kick it off with a little holiday swap. Having earlier posted a Christmas Review Hub in July, why not look at a film associated with July in December?

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) Starring James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Worf. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Produced by: Hal B. Wallis, Jack Warner. Screenplay by: Robert Buckner, Edmund Joseph. Songs by George M. Cohan. Run Time: 126 Black & White U.S. Musical Biography

In 2013, we reviewed Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) for the Fourth of July. A somewhat loose adaptation of Broadway song and dance man George M. Cohan’s life, Yankee Doodle Dandy provided the flag waving patriotism a country at war so desperately needed. The movie also provided James Cagney with a part that showcased his own singing and dancing talents and won him an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

It is impossible to watch the film and not come away singing at least a few of the songs featured in the film: Harrigan, The Yankee Doodle Boy, You’re a Grand Old Flag, Over There to name a few. The film is perfect for watching on the 4th, no matter what the month. The film has been made more perfect with its release this past October on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive, who provided us with a review copy.

Everything about the film and extras seem to be the same as provided in the DVD packaging. However, both the sound and picture are greatly improved. The soundtrack is still in mono and while I can't tell you what encoding in lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 does, I can only tell you that the sound is fuller when listened to under the same conditions. This is particularly important for the many musical numbers in the movie.

I've often thought black and white films really pop in Hi-Def and Yankee Doodle Dandy is no exception. The visuals on the Blu-ray are much sharper and crisper than their DVD counterparts. If you were to compare images, you can see the difference. (Sorry, but side to side doesn't work with the format of the blog.)

Near the beginning of the film, George M. Cohan (James Cagney) shakes hands with FDR (Capt. Jack Young). The top image is from  the DVD version, the bottom one from the Blu-ray (Blu-ray screencap courtesy of

The contrast is more pronounced in the musical scenes. As you can see in the screencaps below, the images are crisper on the Blu-ray than on the DVD. Cohan wears his patriotism on his sleeve with the production number for the song "You're a Grand Old Flag." (Blu-ray screeencap courtesy of

While there is nothing like seeing a fully restored film in a theater, the way it was intended, this Blu-ray release provides the best sound and picture quality available in the home. Once again, if you haven't seen Yankee Doodle Dandy, there is no excuse not to.

If you would like to purchase the Blu-ray of Yankee Doodle Dandy, it is available through the Warner Archive:

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