Classic Films for Your Fourth of July Celebration
It's the fourth of July and you're a classic movie fan. So, what do you watch today, of all days to get your patriotic juices running? If you're stuck for some new ideas, let me make ten suggestions. And, no, none of them are Patton as the picture might suggest. That's a film you can save for Veterans Day.
1776: Because it's literally about the founding fathers and the creation of the constitution of the United States of America. Yes, it's a musical, but not like any musical you know. It's full of comedy and a lot of (for the most part) accurate information. I just adore William Daniels (Boy Meets World, St. Elsewhere) as John Adams and Howard Da Silva (The Blue Dahlia, David and Lisa) as Benjamin Franklin. They're constant bickering veils a deep friendship.
Yankee Doodle Dandy: Because there are more patriotic songs in this one movie than there are in a dozen others put together. This is a musical about the great Broadway musical producer and performer, George M. Cohan. But before you pass this one by for something more manly, remember that it's the great James Cagney playing Cohan in an Oscar winning performance.
The Patriot: Because, again, this is a story that is literally about the beginnings of our fight for independence from the British. Mel Gibson is at his family friendly best as the patriarch of a frontier family who gets caught up in the revolution whether they like it or not. A hunky Heather Ledger plays his eldest son.
Independence Day: Because the reason is in the title. And it's a bunch of Americans who help the world achieve their independence against invading aliens. Will Smith leads the cast that includes Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Randy Quaid, Robert Logia, and Judd Hirsch. That's a lot of star power for one patriotic film. Too many to have an unhappy ending.
Rocky IV: Because it's a US boxer against a Russian boxer who killed his friend. It's all about late cold war rivalries and revenge. What's more American than that? And you just can't get a better theme song, let alone a fight song than the one for Rocky. It'll have you on your feet rooting for the home team.
Born on the 4th of July: Because again, we have the answer in the title. Yes, it's a biography of Ron Kovic, a paralyzed Vietnam war vet, who becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist. But it's also about honoring the vets who were initially looked down upon after the conflict. It's about all vets who we now honor because of their sacrifices.
Miracle (2004): Because it's another story about a great US/Russia rivalry. But this time it's on the ice. This is the true story of the American ice hockey team beating the Russians at the 1980 olympics. I can still remember my Sunday School teachers running around the church yelling, "We won! We won! We beat the Russians!" We were let out early that day.
Captain America: Because being American means never taking no for an answer when you want to do your part for the fight. Chris Evans plays a runt who wants to do his part for WWII, but is rejected for his puny size until he volunteers for a secret experiment that turns him into the greatest American soldier there ever was.
Glory: Because it's another story about America struggling to become what we know it as today. This time it's the Civil War, and black soldiers (mostly previous slaves). Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates. Denzel Washington would win his first Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role as a freed slave.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Because it's all about Washington and politics and the good guy coming out on top no matter what's thrown at him. Jimmy Stewart plays a naive, newly appointed Senator who learns the hard way that American idealism only gets you so far. Thankfully, an experienced insider gives him the tips he needs to survive with his ideals intact.
So, there you go! Ten great films to watch on the forth of July, or any other day of the year. Hit play, watch them one after the other, and feel the patriotism wash over you like fireworks in the night sky.