Hollywood has never been big on making movies about the American Revolution, probably because when they did, they typically flopped. Every so often they have returned to the colonial America well, though. So in honor of the Independence Day holiday, here is a short, and no doubt incomplete list, of a few movies about the American Revolution. And yes, they’re mostly old, ’cause I love the old ones.
”Drums Along the Mohawk” (1939) Directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert, this movie set in upstate New York during the run up to the Revolution is probably one of the best of the narrow genre.
“The Howards of Virginia” (1940) This movie about a Virginia family named (surprise) the Howards and their travails as the colonies became the United Sates of America failed so badly that the star Cary Grant vowed never to make another costume movie, feeling that they just didn’t work with him (most people agreed). He stayed true to his word until 1957 when he made “The Pride and the Passion,” set during the Napoleonic Wars. That flopped too.
“The Scarlet Coat” (1955) A rare movie about Benedict Arnold and his betrayal of the Americans, this one also failed at the box office, though I hear it’s actually underrated. Worth a look if you see it pop up somewhere on TV.
“1776″ (1972) The adaptation of my favorite musical! I watch this every year on July 4th. If you think the Founding Fathers shouldn’t sing and dance then this is not the movie for you. If you want to see members of the Second Continental Congress in a kick line holding onto Benjamin Franklin’s walking stick, then you will love this. The movie also has the unique distinction of having one of its numbers cut prerelease at the request of Richard Nixon (restored versions now include the song “Cool, Cool Considerate Men.”
“The Patriot” Mel Gibson’s attempt to do for the Revolution what he did for Scotland in “Braveheart.” It doesn’t work. The movie’s boring and historically wrong. Did I mention it’s boring?