Saturday Morning Musical: James Cagney

Three weeks into this, my latest excuse to spend time searching about youtube, I am giddy from watching James Cagney dance performances. I have been watching these movies since I was a little boy, Yankee Doodle Dandy in particular. It was just one of those movies that seemed to be on more than most.  (Yankee Doodle dandy was directed by Michael Curtiz who is one of the all-time great directors—our last two family movie nights we watched Robin Hood and Captain Blood, two Curtiz classics.)

Cagney acted in over fifty movies and is probably most famous as a gangster but you can see from the compilation video—which I don’t like in general and I turned the sound down but this one had a lot of material— he did a lot of dancing in the movies after getting his start mostly as a hoofer. He won an Oscar for Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) ten years after becoming a huge star with The Public Enemy.

I know nothing about dance per se and the nostalgia for my childhood aside, watching these videos now I see only a core strength that allows for any type of articulation of the body in any plane and direction. He does so many things I like for no particular reason—the hinging of his trunk, soft hands, a relaxed and wobbly head, the incredible separation between the limbs and the torso. I could go on…