Ruth Leon recommends…James Cagney and Bob Hope

Ruth Leon recommends…James Cagney and Bob Hope

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

May 28, 2022

James Cagney and Bob Hope

Click here to watch
An American friend reminded me of this priceless clip of two of the 20th century’s iconic entertainers, doing what they do, (or did, because both are dead now), almost better than anyone else. This clip comes from a Friar’s Club dinner and serves to remind us of the level of artistry and precision that was necessary for these two great artists to look as though they are making it up as they go along.

Think of the years of training and rehearsal, of repetition and sheer grinding hard work, to be able to toss this off so casually. At the time of this recording Hope was 53 and Cagney was 56Pretty remarkable.

They are reprising a scene in the 1955 movie The Seven Little Foys. In the movie, Vaudevillian Eddie Foy puts all his children into his act to take them on the road when his wife dies. Bob Hope played Eddie Foy and James Cagney played George M. Cohan.

Read more


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    James Cagney was a wonderful hoofer and I loved when he danced up the wall of the proscenium arch in “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”.

  • MPMcGrath says:

    Wonderful memories. Thank you.

  • Arthur says:

    For this I need a “recommendation?”

    Just like the “recommendations” for totally obvious things like the Met Museum, etc. Why do you host these Ruth posts. Adds nothing to the blog. Is it an attempt to increase credibility? Fail.

  • Larry says:

    Great to see this but I don’t understand what “reprising a scene” from the movie means. This clip IS from that movie.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Just to clarify, the Friar’s Club dinner seen here is a scene in the film about Eddie Foy and the 7 Little Foys; they were not recreating or reprising a dance scene from the film for the Club. But there is a genuine improvisatory sense to this bit of film.

    I saw Bob Hope’s stage show twice over the years and was surprised by how much dancing he did during it. I expected the singing.

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    No. It is not from a “Friar’s [sic] Club dinner”. Nothing is being tossed off. They are not reprising anything. This is a well-rehearsed scene from “The Seven Little Foys” (Paramount Pictures 1955). At the time of filming (late summer 1954), Hope (as Eddie Foy) was 51; Cagney (as George M. Cohen) was 54. The only reprisal is that Cagney portrayed Cohen in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (Warner Bros. 1942).

    As a film fanatic, misattribution like this drives me nuts!

    I watched Costa-Gavras’ 1982 “missing.” a few nights ago – a perfect film to revisit or get to know, as its true story remains open-ended and unfortunately rather topical in 2022.

    It was withdrawn from American theatrical distribution and sale on VHS/LaserDisc in 1983 due to a libel lawsuit filed by an American ambassador (unnamed in the film) until the case was tossed out; it was re-released and issued on DVD in 2006, so it’s not as well-known as it deserves to be. Stunning performances from Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek (both Oscar-nominated for this film).

  • fflambeau says:

    Cagney was great but Hope was a revelation. However, the sound is in addition to his tap dancing. It is not in synch.