Favorites Friday: Movies for the Fourth of July

I hope you enjoyed some fireworks and barbecuing yesterday!  I may be a little late with this post, but it’s still Fourth of July weekend, so I thought I’d offer up a list of movies in the spirit of the holiday…

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (review here) is my top pick for Fourth of July, not because it has anything much to do with the revolution (although Mr. Smith’s first name is Jefferson) but because it celebrates, as only Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart can do, all that is best in American ideals of democracy.  Mr. Smith is the dreamer who believes in honesty and fair play and a government that serves and protects the people, going up against a world that isn’t so straight-forward.

1776 is a close second, a comedic, musical look at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  It may not always portray the Founding Fathers positively or entirely accurately (apparently the only historical record indicating John Adams was “obnoxious and disliked” is in his own writing, and Richard Henry Lee wasn’t the idiot he’s portrayed as here), but the whole thing is pervaded with a warm affection for the characters–and it’s just so much fun!  With some nice messages about ideals too.

The Sandlot has no revolution or political message, but it does have a scene on the Fourth of July.  More importantly, I think it captures a certain slice of Americana, with its innocent story of boys playing sandlot baseball, eating s’mores, making friends and getting into trouble over one long summer when anything seemed possible.

Newsies (review here) has a kind of revolution, although not the 1776 one.  Set in New York in 1899 and (loosely) based on real history, it tells the story of newsboys going on strike against the powerful newspaper publishers.  It’s a David-and-Goliath story, centers around friendship and fighting for your rights–and features a host of wonderful “rally the troops” songs and adorably enthusiastic newsboys.

National Treasure is no doubt even less historically accurate than 1776, but it’s a fun romp and adventure story based around a mystery/conspiracy theory about the Founding Fathers.  It features all sorts of artifacts and monuments, and like Mr. Smith, the main character, Benjamin Franklin Gates, is named after a Revolutionary figure.

So much for my round-up!  What do you like to watch on the Fourth of July?

7 thoughts on “Favorites Friday: Movies for the Fourth of July

  1. I’ve seen all of these but Newsies and I approve. 🙂 I love 1776, and I watch it every July 4. My family collectively hate it and they bemoan me watching it, so I think this is the last year I bring it with me. I’ll watch it at home before/after the holiday or something.

    Have you seen the John Adams miniseries from HBO? Very good, very worth checking out. After seeing 1776 the first time, I got really interested in John Adams (because really, he’s right, I didn’t actually learn much about him in school) and I found that miniseries. It’s a very cool look at the sacrifices that he and his wife made to get this country started.

    1. I have not seen the John Adams miniseries…I don’t really know much about him either, but 1776 has made me very fond of him. That, and I’m pretty sure Abigail Adams was amazing.

  2. dianem57

    “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” with James Cagney playing the songwriter and showman George M. Cohan. He wrote many famous American songs including, “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and “Give My Regards to Broadway.” It’s a fun, patriotic musical with an element of immigrant making good in America, too.

  3. Great post! I’ve been wanting to watch Newsies for a while, because it has Christian Bale singing and dancing! National Treasure is a great patriotic flick. My husband and I watched Independence Day one time for the fourth, which is quite fitting even if it is about an alien invasion.

    1. I do enjoy that this movie has Christian Bale. I’m not especially a fan of him (apart from this movie!) but I just enjoy knowing that he went on to be a big star, in completely different kinds of roles…

  4. Dennis

    I’ll put in a good word for the Disney classic, Johnny Tremain, the story of a teen-age boy in Boston at the time of the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s ride. (Slight spoiler: Johnny puts the lantern in the church tower as the signal to Paul Revere.) Filmed in the 50’s, it shows the imprint of Walt’s personal hand: strong ideals, sanitized to be suitable for children, big on patriotism, inspiring, and rollicking fun.

    1. That’s a nice patriotic one…even if the female half of the population is a bit underrepresented! But then, I already recommended Newsies, and I don’t even like the only girl in that movie…

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