July 4th: Patriotic Films to Enjoy Over Independence Day Weekend


July 4th Independence Day

July 4th can represent many different things to different people. It is meant to honor and celebrate America’s independence from British rule in 1776. Many love to celebrate the patriotic holiday with barbecue and beach plans, as well as with traditional firework displays across the nation. Others prefer to sleep the day away or spend it binge-watching classic films. Independence Day plans can often be weather-dependent. For instance, a rainy Independence Day is a great excuse to stay inside, turn on the air-conditioning, and enjoy a movie marathon. Here are some of the best patriotic films to celebrate the holiday in style over the Independence Day weekend.

One selection that reminds a viewer war may be hell, but it can also be entertaining is the seminal 1970 film M*A*S*H. The film starred Elliott Gould (American History X), Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games), and Tom Skerritt (Alien) as Army surgeons with a satirical view of the events surrounding the Korean War. It was directed by Robert Altman of Gosford Park fame. This film is available for streaming on Netflix.

Another film selection that fits right in with the American theme of the holiday is A League of Their Own (1992). Afterall, what sport is more patriotic and apple pie than baseball? The fictionalized story of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League mixes tear-jerker moments with plenty of comedy from stars Tom Hanks (Castaway), Geena Davis (Thelma & Louise), Madonna (Evita), and Rosie O’Donnell (The View). While there are other entertaining baseball movies currently streaming on Netflix, such as Major League and Bad News BearsLeague has more heart and better comedic timing than any of them.

One of the best patriotic films to celebrate the holiday in style over the Independence Day weekend is the aptly titled Born on the Fourth of July (1989). This selection was a very controversial film when it was first released. Its message is clear as the nation celebrates with parades, freedom and U.S. ideals are something worthy fighting for and must be defended. The film stars Top Gun‘s Tom Cruise as wheelchair-bound, real-life Vietnam Veteran Ron Kovic, who later becomes a well-known anti-war and pro-human rights political activist. The role earned Cruise his first Academy Award nomination and was awarded Oscars for director Oliver Stone, as well as film editing.

Another July 4th film delight to enjoy over the Independence Day weekend is the 1942 classic Yankee Doodle Dandy. This film represented quite a departure for ‘tough guy’ star James Cagney (White Heat), who danced and sang his way to an Oscar for his outstanding portrayal of vaudeville composer and performer George M. Cohan in this Oscar-nominated biography.

Another aptly titled film selection to partake in over the July 4th weekend is 1996’s Independence Day. Given its name, this blockbuster has to be high on any July 4th movie list. The story of an alien invasion on Earth is rather implausible and satirical in nature. However, it is a fun flick to celebrate the holiday and the last-ditch attempt to save Earth by a disparate group of humans headed by stars Will Smith (Hitch), Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping), and Jeff Goldblum (The Fly) made it worth the price of admission.

Other patriotic film selections to celebrate the holiday in style over the Independence Day weekend include Patton, Forrest Gump, and Rudy, all three of which are currently available for streaming on Netflix. The 1970 film classic, Patton, featured a tour-de-force, Oscar-winning performance from veteran actor George C. Scott (Taps), who notoriously refused to accept the Oscar for the lead role. The seminal war film came at the end of a decade where anti-war protests had rocked the nation and became a symbol of youthful rebellion. The actor’s portrayal of the aggressive military icon Gen. George S. Patton not only garnered him an Oscar, but actually drew sympathy for the controversial hero. While 1994’s Forrest Gump lead to star Tom Hanks’ (Bosom Buddies) second Oscar win as the titular character who leads an extraordinary life. The film is an epic American romance covering several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, who despite his impairments manages to be present for, and even occasionally influence, some of the country’s defining moments in the latter half of the 20th century. While on the surface 1993’s Rudy might not seem to be a patriotic selection, this euphoric, uplifting story about college football will inspire viewers to salute the American flag and high-five Uncle Sam. The film starred Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings), Jon Favreau (Iron Man), and Ned Beatty (Deliverance).

July 4th can represent many different things to different people. While it is often synonymous with America’s independence from British rule, the traditions and events observed by people celebrating the holiday vary greatly. Whether it is an active day with many events planned or a restful day for relaxation, there are many movie selections available to celebrate the holiday in style over the Independence Day weekend.

By Leigh Haugh

NBC Bay Area

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