The One and Only

George M. Cohan, the song-and-dance man, is invited to the Oval Office by Franklin D. Roosevelt. He is an old man, and thrilled beyond words to discover his president is a fan. FDR asks Cohan to tell him the story of his life, and thus begins Yankee Doodle Dandy, James Cagney's glorious 1942 musical.

The face of the actor who plays Roosevelt is obscured. We hear his voice, but he is photographed from the back, from the side, over his shoulder. The effect is to raise FDR's status to that of a divinity, the Hollywood equivalent of the Lord telling Moses: "Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live .  .  . thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen."

I suspect the treatment of Barack Obama in...

Proper Review
Nov 17th 2008
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