Happy early 4th of July! As we count down the days to fireworks, I thought I’d share my favorite movies for getting in the patriotic mood.
Disclaimer: I know you want me to say Independence Day, but I won’t.
5) Blues Brothers
Weren’t expecting me to say that, were you? Well, the main reason for this is because when I was a kid my mom taped Blues Brothers off of TV on the same tape as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, my number one on this list. Every 3rd of July we would pull out this tape and run it on loop as we worked on our entry for the neighborhood 4th of July cake contest (which, on a side, we won so often that they stopped giving first prizes and eventually renamed the contest in my mom’s honor…boo yah). In addition to this fond association, I stand by Blues Brothers as a fantastic piece of Americana. It shows off some of the greatest things about one America’s greatest cities, it contains countless cultural references, and pushes Nazis off a bridge. Also, after watching it recently after many years’ neglect, I was astounded by the excellent cinematography. This movie is memorable for so many reasons (hut hut hut) that I never thought to actually look at the movie. When you watch it, admire with me the artistry in many of the shots. You will be thankful you did.
4) Band of Brothers
I wasn’t too excited about watching this mini series when Josh pressed me to see it a few years ago. I thought it would be some macho bromance complete with outrageously fake and gory battle scenes. A few minutes in I realized how wrong I was. For one thing, it is all based on true stories from a paratroop unit who experienced firsthand many of the most critical moments of World War II. Each episode includes interviews with the surviving members, emphasizing the significance, the historicity, and the gravity of the stories being told. While there is a good bit of gore, it is shown realistically and tastefully. Most surprising to me was how much of it was character-driven; viewers are immediately drawn to these men and desperately want to see them succeed. As for the 4th of July, Band of Brothers stirs up a great deal of pride for the men and women who fought and continue to fight for our freedoms and ideals.
3) The Sandlot
Ahhh, the quintessential summer movie in all its glory. This is a must for every summer, and it is especially appropriate around the 4th of July thanks to the scene where the boys play at night on their field illuminated the multitude of fireworks. It’s hard not to be moved by how much fun it looks. Not to mention, you have Ray Charles crooning America the Beautiful in the background. “To us, baseball was a game. But to Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, baseball was life.”
4) John Adams: Independence
When we think about Independence Day, we might think about fireworks, or hot dogs, or spending all day at the pool, or all of the above. Watching the Independence episode of HBO’s miniseries John Adams, based on David McCullough’s biography (also EXCELLENT) sends shivers down my spine. We think of July 4th as a jovial day, but the day the founding father’s signed the Declaration of Independence they knew full well that they were signing their lives away. They were committing treason against their country for the principle and protection of freedom and inalienable rights. As John Adams says in his speech, “How few of the human race have ever had the opportunity of choosing a system of government for themselves and their children?” A republic of laws, not men.
1) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
God Bless Frank Capra. I can’t say enough good things about this movie. This is a story about, as one of the characters puts it, “A forty-foot dive into a tub of water;” a David and Goliath story; a little guy defeating the odds; an elegant defense of American ideals; a return from disillusionment. Just watch it already.
Happy 4th of July!