Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Letter to a Friend About Hope & Cagney

These were two great creative performing geniuses.

There is almost nothing they could not do.

Cagney's performance as George M. Cohan in "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is absolutely in every way possible beautiful and unforgettable. The moment of his father's death is heartbreaking.

I was thinking about the range of people like this when I was watching a few scenes from "Whit Christmas" last night.

Danny Kaye, known of course as a great comic and song-and-dance man was so powerful in a made-for-TV movie that came out in the '80's. Based on a real life story, the movie is called "Skokie" and it is about a Jewish man who protests a neo-Nazi march in suburban Chicago in modern times. Slowly he reveals that he is a concentration camp survivor. The film and Kaye are devastating.

So many people cheered when the "studio system" was dismantled, but it was the studio system of teaching and learning and covering all bases that allowed already gifted people to shine even brighter as they polished one skill after another.

We had a small taste of that right here on Hamilton Street when the CBC was cooking on all cylinders.

Of course, we will always have great performers emerging to the front lines, but I doubt that we will ever again see the likes of such triple-threat stars as Hope and Cagney, Crosby, Sinatra, Garland, Mickey Rooney. I saw Rooney on stage in "Sugar Babies" with Ann Miller in San Fransisco about 25 years ago. Rooney was an encyclopedia of performance art.

No comments: