Hope and Cagney dancing

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An evening pause: From the 1955 Bob Hope film, The Seven Little Foys, with James Cagney playing George M. Cohan. Neither man is remembered for their dancing, but from this scene you wouldn’t know it.

Hat tip Tom Biggar.


  • Dick Eagleson

    Hope probably danced, at least a little, in more of his pictures than Cagney did, but Cagney was certainly memorable in several Warners musicals, especially ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy.’ I regard Cagney as the greatest performer in the history of American film because he was not only a gifted comedic and dramatic actor, but also a first-rank singer and dancer. Nobody did all that as consistently well as Cagney did.

  • Phil Berardelli

    In my book, “Phil’s Favorite 500,” which I’m always shamelessly promoting and Bob, bless him, mentions favorably, I devoted a chapter to him for some of the reasons you stated. It’s called “Incomparable Cagney.”

  • Dick Eagleson

    Looked at your TOC on Amazon. Your tastes and mine seem to line up better than 90%. A lot of good, and less well-known, Jimmy Stewart pictures on your lists, notably ‘Strategic Air Comand’ and ‘No Highway in the Sky.’ The aerial cinematography and special effects in the former are arguably the best of the pre-CGI era. The latter is a particular gem and doesn’t appear much on free TV nor is it easy to find on disc. For whatever it may be worth, I think Jimmy Stewart is just behind Cagney on the list of great American film actors. Good to see some of Cagney’s lesser-known work on your lists too, especially ‘The Gallant Hours.’ I became convinced of Cagney’s place atop the pyramid of great American actors 40-odd years ago when I was attending a multi-week-long Warner Bros. festival at a revival house (remember revival houses!) in L.A. On consecutive nights I saw ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and ‘White Heat.’ Two more dissimilar performances it would be hard to imagine, but both were all-Cagney, all-out and all-perfection.

  • Phil Berardelli

    Right on, Dick. I’m a great admirer of Stewart’s as well. Though the melodrama is stodgy in “SAC,” the aerial sequences are majestic, scored by Victor Young, who did “Around the World in 80 Days.” Remember this scene? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGjyH2ulsCk

  • Edward

    Speaking of unusual, it wasn’t only that they weren’t known for their dancing, but even though Hope was the famous comedian, in this scene he gave most of the big laughs to Cagney.

    Dick almost pointed out that Cagney’s first dance, in this scene, was a reprise of one of his dances from “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

    I can see which book I will ask Santa for, this year. I, too, looked at the TOC, and Phil includes some wonderful yet little-known gems, such as “49th Parallel,” “Diva,” and “Love Me Tonight.”

    A few years ago, someone pointed me to the scene linked by Phil, above. It is rare that modern directors spend that much time showing the majesty of what is happening. They seem to want to move on with the plot more than give us a sense of being there. Hitchcock and Leone also used a slower pace to good effect.

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