Monday, July 3, 2017

Some Movies for the 4th of July

Every 4th of July I watch the classic animated movie Yellow Submarine (1968). Of course, I realise that Yellow Submarine has almost nothing to do with the 4th of July. Indeed, not only were The Beatles not from the United States of America, but the film itself was made in Britain! I watch it because it reminds me of my childhood, when for several years CBS would air it in late June or early July. That having been said, I realise my fellow Americans might want to watch a movie that has something more to do with Independence Day. Here then are five movies that would make for perfect viewing for the 4th of July.

Drums Along the Mohawk (1939): Drums Along the Mohawk is from master director John Ford. It centres on a farming community in the Mohawk Valley of New York during the American Revolution.  The community faces attacks from the Seneca and raids from Tories. Like many historical dramas, Drums Along the Mohawk sometimes plays fast and loose with history. That having been said, I think it is one of John Ford's best films, with plenty of action and drama, and with some fine cinematography from Ray Rennahan and Bert Glennon.

The Time of Their Lives (1946): The Time of Their Lives is not exactly a Revolutionary War movie. Instead it is one of the many fantasy comedies popular in the Forties, and one starring Abbott & Costello at that. It centres on a pair of ghosts (played by Lou Costello and Marjorie Reynolds) who died during the Revolutionary War and still haunt an estate 166 years after they had died. The Time of Their Lives differs from most Abbott & Costello movies in that Bud and Lou do not play friends or even partners in the film. What is more Bud Abbott plays a fairly unsympathetic role. Regardless, it is still one of the best Abbott & Costello movies in my humble opinion, and a very funny movie.

The Scarlet Coat (1955): The Scarlet Coat is one of the early films from John Sturges, now best known for The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Great Escape (1963).  It deals with one of the pivotal events of the American Revolution, General Benedict Arnold's betrayal of the Continental Army. Like many similar films it does depart from history a bit, but it is an entertaining film nonetheless.

Johnny Tremain (1957)Johnny Tremain is a Disney film based on Esther Forbes's children's novel of the same name. Like the novel it centres on the silversmith's apprentice of the title who soon finds himself swept up in events that would lead to the American Revolution. While it is a total work of fiction, it is very entertaining and particularly suitable for children. Among the events portrayed are the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's ride, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

1776 (1972):  1776 certainly has its flaws:  some of the songs tend to be forgettable and  it is littered with historical inaccuracies (although most of them are fairly minor). That having been said, it is ultimately very enjoyable and features some fine performances from such talents as William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, and Ken Howard. The signing of the Declaration of Independence might sound like an odd topic for a musical, but ultimately it works.

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