Michael Curtiz was one of Hollywood’s most prolific and colorful directors. Born to a well-to-do Jewish family in Budapest, he ran away from home at age 17 to join a circus, then trained for an acting career at the Royal Academy for Theater and Art. He worked as a leading man at the Hungarian Theatre before directing stage plays and then films. His first cinematic effort was Az Utolsó Bohém (1912), which was also the first feature-length film ever made in Hungary. Curtiz soon moved on to the more progressive Danish film industry, returning to his homeland in 1914 and serving a year in the Austro-Hungarian infantry before resuming his film career. While it may be arguable that Curtiz was Hungary’s finest director, he was certainly its busiest, making no fewer than 14 films in 1917, most of which starred his first wife, actress Lucy Dorraine. When the Hungarian film industry was nationalized by the new communist government in 1919, Curtiz packed his bags and headed for Sweden… read more
Can propaganda be art, or does political grandstanding sully the pursuit of beauty and/or truth? The politics are almost irresponsibly naive—Its poetic that this celebration of the US takes the form of a self-serving inaccurate biography starring a man who took the job to stop rumors that he was a Communist. But the filmmaking here is as good as anything being done in the 40s. Better movies have done worse. 3 stars.
Heavy on histrionics, not to mention factually inaccurate, but damned if it isn't highly entertaining! For once the Oscars got it right by (finally) awarding Cagney for one of his finest performances! His turn as George Cohan is full of emotion and gravitas as well as being on the money physically.
Everyone rightfully points out Cagney's bravura performance, but Curtiz's direction is nearly flawless. Say what you want about Curtiz's auteurist credentials, but his direction in this film as is about as good as anything I've seen in the great decade of 1940s cinema.