(This post originally ran in 2010. The movies listed would make excellent viewing tomorrow and any day.)
Last year I listed here my top ten picks for movies about the America Revolution for the Fourth. This year here is my list of patriotic movies for the Fourth.
10. National Treasure (2004)-Sure it’s cursed with a ridiculous plot involving the masons and a treasure, it is still a lot of fun and calls us back to the foundation document, the Declaration of Independence, that is the cornerstone of our Republic.
9. Hamburger Hill (1987)-Content advisory: very, very strong language in the video clip which may be viewed here. All the Vietnam veterans I’ve mentioned it to have nothing but praise for this film which depicts the assault on Hill 937 by elements of the 101rst Division, May 10-20, 1969. It is a fitting tribute to the valor of the American troops who served their country in an unpopular war a great deal better than their country served them.
8. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)-James Cagney in perhaps the greatest film bio of them all, a salute to George M. Cohan, the legendary composer, playwright and patriot.
7. The Alamo (1960)-“The Republic” scene from The Alamo, a film which was basically John Wayne’s love note to America.
6. Gettysburg (1993)-The movie that I think comes the closest to conveying to us the passions of the Civil War. You really can’t understand America unless you understand the Civil War. As Shelby Foote, one of the greatest historians of the war, said: “Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars, beginning with the First World War, did what it did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. And it is very necessary, if you are going to understand the American character in the twentieth century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.”
5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)–This movie came out at a time when fascism and communism seemed to be the wave of the future. In the face of that dark reality, Mr. Smith is a brilliant paean to American democracy, and the idealism and devotion to the principles of the Founding Fathers that constantly battles against political corruption.
4. Glory (1989)-The tale of the 54th Massachusetts in the Civil War, and a long overdue salute to the black troops who fought for the Union. A superb film in every regard, and a model of how history should be recreated on film.
3. Wake Island (1942)-At the beginning of World War II the 1rst Marine Defense Battalion on Wake Island, gallantly supported by civilian workers, made an unforgettable stand against the Japanese. This is the story of the American Thermopylae.
2. Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)-Raymond Massey gives the performance of a life time as the greatest President this nation has ever had, save, perhaps, for George Washington.
1. 1776 (1972)-Singing and dancing Founding Fathers! What’s not to love? The film does a good job of depicting what a leap of faith the Declaration of Independence was. For all the Founding Fathers knew, they could have all ended up dangling from British nooses, and cursed by their posterity. They banished their fears and went boldly forward with their revolution, the most successful revolution in history, and which is still underway.