MOVIEGOER

At the Esquire

When an entertainer who is born on the 4th of July takes that as his cue to make himself a one-man patriotic holiday, he's bound to turn out to be an intriguing character. And when a vigorously produced and directed movie is based on his career, top-flight entertainment is the result. George M. Cohan is such a character: "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is such a film, and the sum total is just what might be expected.

Containing most of Cohan's more popular songs with James Cagney in the title role. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is as red, white, and blue a fautasy as Cohan himself could ask for. Cagney dances, sings, and mugs through a better than average story, and a wonderful series of songs. "Its A Grand Old Flag," "Mary," "Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway." "Over There," and a number of others are all done up in a flag-waving style that, fortunately, is never quite overdone.

Walter Houston, Joan Leslie, and Francis Langford play supporting roles effectively, but it's Cagney's show from beginning to end. He dominates it as completely as Cohan would probably do if he were there. When the time for handing out prizes rolls around. Cagney's performances ought to give him a running head-start. And the movie won't b far behind.