#98: Yankee Doodle Dandy (AFI) vs. The Maltese Falcon (IMDb)
This week’s AFI/IMDb Showdown was Yankee Doodle Dandy vs. The Maltese Falcon. Although it wasn’t quite as bad as comparing Toy Story and Unforgiven last week, it was still pretty difficult. Again, two entirely different genres (musical and film noir) but at least these were made in the same time period (early 1940s) and were both black and white.
I should say right from the beginning my choice for winner this week is The Maltese Falcon. It’s the first of the gorgeously cynical film noir genre of the 40s & 50s. John Huston (writer/director) was a genius. Plus honestly, I would be hard pressed to vote against anything with Humphrey Bogart in it. I’ve been on a huge Bogey kick the last year or so. I love The African Queen, Key Largo, The Big Sleep and, of course, Casablanca.
[As an aside, I got on said Bogart kick because last year I happened to hear the 1981 classic song “KeyLargo” by Bertie Higgins – which I remembered, frighteningly enough, from my childhood. Includes such lines: “We had it all… Just like Bogey and Bacall… Starring in our own late, late show… Sailing away to Key Largo…”
In case you need to experience some of that sheer goodness:
Dude is smoking, has awesome facial hair, AND rocks a gold necklace & white sports jacket/shirt open to the waist. You’re welcome.]
But even though my vote goes to The Maltese Falcon, the biggest surprise came from Yankee Doodle Dandy. Was that James Cagney – famous for playing gangsters – singing and tap-dancing in the biography of George M. Cohan? Sho’ nuff was. When I think of James Cagney, I think of The Public Enemy: “Aw, you dirty, double-crossing… open up in there, you hear me?” (Admittedly, I think of that because of my many times on the Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studio, not because of the actual movie). But to see him singing and dancing was a pleasant surprise, although he’s still not one of my favorites.
So, after three films, the score stands 2-1, in AFI’s favor. Next week’s showdown: Blade Runner vs. Gladiator.