6 December 2010 | joeparkson
Ultra Talented Cast, Weak Story, Production Values & Songs
Next to "Yankee Doodle Dandy", this has Cagney's best dancing. It also has some fine dancing and singing from Virginia Mayo, Doris Day, Gordon MacRae & Gene Nelson. They all do very well, along with an early funny performance by Alan Hale Jr.
Shot in Technicolor, with better songs and more plausible story, this could have been another "The Bandwagon".
Cagney's role is similar to his role in the earlier musical 'Footloght Parade'. As in "Footlight", at one point, one of the dancers is unable to go on and Cagney's character fills in for him. Virginia Mayo plays the same sort of wise-cracking sexy blonde that Joan Blondell played in "Footlight".
The main main plot is Cagney being pressured into joining West Point to help them put on a musical. Adding to that implausibility is a cadet (Gordon MacRae) with a magnificent voice preferring to make a career in the Army, even after falling in love with a famous singing star (Doris Day basically playing herself).
The romance between Cagney and Mayo isn't so far fetched when you look at the movies Fred Astaire made with Leslie Caron, Audrey Hepburn and others. Virginia Mayo displays a fine dancing talent and lovely singing voice, and Doris Day shows she could dance as well as sing. I wish they'd left out the long patriotic number with Gordon MacRae and let him sing a ballad or duet with Doris. Gene Nelson is totally wasted here; they really didn't let him have a big dance number like his Kansas City number in "Oklahoma!" The movie would have been improved had there been an estrangement between Mayo and Cagney with perhaps a dalliance between Mayo and Nelson sparking jealousy in Cagney.
Even though Cagney is noticeably heavier here than in "Yankee Doodle Dandy", he still dances very well and delivers a comic performance complete with facial mugging and explosive tantrums. Those tantrums with lots of hopping up and down like a Warner Bros. cartoon character couldn't have been good for Cagney's 50 year old knees! Alan Hale Jr. was quite funny especially when his huge bulk is next to the short statured Cagney. Warner's should have made some sort of police comedy buddy movie with Hale and Cagney.
I enjoyed seeing Cagney and Mayo once again playing totally different parts. They play off each other very well as do Cagney and Day. It's obvious that MacRae and Day look so cute together that they just had to make more movies together with better songs. Cagney was sufficiently impressed with Doris Day that he pushed for her to get the Ruth Etting part in "Love Me Or Leave Me".