Roger Ebert Home

James Cagney

Reviews

Blog Posts

Ebert Club

#292 December 27, 2016

Matt writes: With New Year's Eve quickly approaching, movie buffs are already setting their DVRs to record annual broadcasts of Michael Curtiz's 1942 classic, "Yankee Doodle Dandy," featuring its Oscar-winning performance from James Cagney as George M. Cohan. In his Great Movies essay on the film, Roger Ebert reflected on just how large of a departure this role was for the actor.

Features

Thumbnails 7/1/16

The life of Olivia de Havilland; Sitting down to make a stand; My visit to LAIKA; Scars that bleed and wounds that heal; Mimi Leder on "The Leftovers."

Features

Thumbnails 5/12/16

The feminine grotesque; Burn the witch; Memoirs of postmodern Orientalism; On "Death Becomes Her"; Chatting with hosts of "Black on Black Cinema" podcast.

Scanners

The Magnificent Ambersons: What's Past is Prologue

I've always felt Orson Welles' second feature, the memory-movie masterpiece "The Magnificent Ambersons," got a bad rap because: 1) it isn't "Citizen Kane"; and 2) it isn't the perfect creation Welles intended it to be because, as we all know, RKO re-cut and re-shot parts of it, including the last two scenes (which are so not Welles they don't really affect you much; they're like background noise that wakes you out of a deep sleep). Well, OK, "Ambersons" isn't "Kane" -- it's not as much fun as "Kane" (few movies are), but it's every bit as accomplished and it goes deeper into its characters and its evocation of the past. And, yes, I'd give my (fill in portion of anatomy here) to see the lost footage restored (although you can read the cutting continuity of the unfinished 132-minute version Welles left behind when he went to Brazil in March, 1942, and see stills of the missing scenes -- so you can imagine the finished movie, even if you can't actually see it).

All of this is to say that AltScreen has published a long piece I just wrote about this, one of my favorite movies. It begins with a more-or-less shot-by-shot analysis of the nine-minute prologue, and how it sets up everything else in the movie. You can read it here: "The Magnificent Ambersons: The Past is Prologue." The film has only recently been made available on Region 1 DVD (and even then as an Amazon-only bonus with the new Blu-ray of "Kane," though it shows up on TCM occasionally). A few excerpts, to give you a taste:

Features

Yankee Doodle Dandy: Born on the Fourth of July

Spike Jones - I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy by perruche My Great Movie review of Yankee Doodle Dandy, which won James Cagney an Oscar.

var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname = "Roger Ebert's Journal"; a2a_config.linkurl = "http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/"; a2a_config.num_services = 8;