Happy 4th of July Everyone!

There is a serious Hollywood oversight when it comes to July 4th. So few films take place on or around this holiday, or for that matter, the American Revolution in general. Why has this happened? Who knows really, but it has. Of all the holidays in existence, the 4th of July is almost certainly the least represented on the silver screen.American Flags This strikes me as especially ironic considering how much money is made over this holiday weekend at the theaters.

So what are you going to watch today between the baseball games, bar-b-que, watermelon and fireworks? Over the years there have been some American Revolution movies, but few of them can be considered great. Likewise, you can always go the route of “Great American” movies like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939) or “All the President’s Men” (1976), but rather than go that way, here is this year’s official Lasso the Movies list of films that are connected in some way, shape or form to the 4th of July. I have provided links to rent these films through Amazon Instant Video streaming (where available). Have a happy and safe holiday, and don’t forget to enjoy one of these great films.

10. “The Time of Their Lives” (1946): The Time of Their LivesI know what you’re thinking, Abbott and Costello, really? Yes, really! In this classic comedy film set in 1780, Costello is a tinker named Horatio, who, with a letter of recommendation from George Washington, hopes to marry a housemaid (Anne Gillis). Of course, there is a rival for her affections in Cuthbert (Abbott), who will stop at nothing to get rid of Horatio. The owner of the estate is involved in the Benedict Arnold plot, and his fiancee overhears the plan. She goes to seek help with Horatio at her side, but tragically the are both killed, and slandered as traitors. Now their ghosts will forever be stuck haunting these grounds, until their innocence can be proven.

9. “The Music Man” The Music Man (1962)(1962): This musical film starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones might not make you instantly think about 4th of July, but I’m including it simply because the climactic scene takes place at the 4th of July picnic. The story, about a con man posing as a band leader in a small Iowa town, never gets old, and the song and overall atmosphere are not to be missed. It’s exactly that small town 4th of July I always picture, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and with a big brass band (headed by 76 trombones), what better way is there to spend the afternoon?  It’s also a great opportunity to see Ron Howard singing!

8. “The Pride of the Yankees” The Pride of the Yankees (1942)(1942): July 4th, 1939. The great Lou Gehrig said goodbye to baseball and his fans in one of the most memorable speeches in history. This film, starring Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright and Walter Brennan, is an absolutely amazing film, fully capturing everything that is great about this American icon. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s a baseball movie either.) Surprisingly, “The Pride of the Yankees,” although not necessarily about the 4th of July, is a film that resonates with audiences, leaving them in a mood to truly appreciate and embrace the holiday at hand.

7. “1776” 1776 (1973)(1972): This musical film directed by Peter H. Hunt is based on the stage musical of the same name, and centers on the lives of those involved in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.This epic film (168 minutes on the DVD version) is actually the perfect 4th of July movie if you’re looking for a good way to celebrate America’s independence. It is well made, and despite some historical inaccuracies, it stays fairly close to the truth, and even includes dialogue taken from letters written by the real people.

6. “Johnny Tremain” Johnny Tremain (1957)(1957): In this Walt Disney produced adaptation of Esther Forbes novel, a young boy living in Massachusetts is training to be a blacksmith, but has aspirations of so much more. Of course with the history of his country about to change forever, and young Johnny’s connections to people like Paul Revere and John Quincy Adams, you can only imagine how much Johnny can achieve before he’s done. Directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Hal Stalmaster, “Johnny Tremain” is a wonderfully entertaining, family friendly film that is easy to enjoy; especially today.

5. “Drums Along the Mohawk” Drums Along the Mohawk (!939)Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert in "Drums Along the Mohawk" (1939)(1939): From director John Ford comes this adventures romp of a film that takes place in central New York during the American Revolution. Gilbert (Henry Fonda) and Lana (Claudette Colbert) have a farm, but with the constant British, Indian and Tory attacks, they can’t seem to keep their lives in order. This was the first color film for John Ford, and he used it well. Each scene is carefully crafted and presented, mixing action drama and romance without ever letting the story drag. “Drums Along the Mohawk” was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Cinematography (Ray Rennahan & Bert Glennon) and Best Supporting Actress (Edna May Oliver).

4. “The Patriot” The Patriot (2000)(2000): Although it’s not one of my favorites, there is no denying that this film from director Roland Emmerich is a perfect mix of violence and drama, all surrounding America’s independence. Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger give stirring performances, and Jason Isaacs will forever be remembered as one of the most cold-hearted villains simply because of his ridiculously evil smile. Sure at almost three hours it can seem a little drawn-out, but with carefully choreographed action sequences, there is plenty of blood and destruction to hold anyone’s attention.

3. “Jaws” Jaws (1975)(1975): Swimming is one of the most popular 4th of July activities, but before you go running into the water, you might want to keep your ears open for John Williams’ unforgettably haunting score and Bruce’s never-ending ferocity. Steven Spielberg directs this Best Picture nominated film that is still just as intense and frightening as ever, and promises to make any July 4th better.

2. “Independence Day” Independence Day (1996)(1996): Sure, in 1776, America had to fight for their independence on the ground, but by 1996 everything had changed. No longer did the opposition wear red and march towards battle, now the attack came from space and flies through the air with the greatest of ease. Roland Emmerich makes the list for the second time, with what is still one of the highest grossing movies of all time. With an all-star cast including Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, Mary McDonald and Judd Hirsch, killing aliens and saving the world has never been more fun.

1. “Yankee Doodle Dandy” Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)(1942): The great James Cagney stars in this film as real life legend George M. Cohan. This biographical-musical covers his life, from his early days on-stage as a child, all the way though to the start of WWII. Directed by Michael Curtiz and co-starring Walter Huston and Joan Leslie, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is a sure-fire, can’t miss classic that is a must see for all. James Cagney won an Academy Award for his remarkable performance in this film, as he carries the entire story on his back, and looks good doing it.


0 thoughts on “Happy 4th of July Everyone!

  1. John says:

    Happy 4th of July Paul. Yankee Doodle Dandy is required viewing today. Also, remembering all the brave US soldiers who gave us this great country and the very freedom that we enjoy today.


    • Paul says:

      Happy 4th of July to you too John. I hope you have a great day. I agree that “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is required today. I really wish they would get this classic on blu-ray.


  2. Constance Rose Metzinger says:

    Great selection! The Music Man is always a favorite of mine on Independence Day…it captures a wholesome small-town America to perfection. The only film you are missing is “Ah, Wilderness!”…that’s another gem.


  3. R.A. Kerr says:

    Happy Belated July 4th!

    This is a pretty interesting list – and I’m very glad to see “Independence Day” made it to the list. For all its plot holes and unlikely technological solutions, this movie is nothing but fun. I never tire of it.


    • Paul says:

      I can’t call it “one of the highest quality films of all time”, but it does have to element of enjoy-ability that is needed for a film to still be entertaining, this many years later.


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