Happy 4th of July! Generally when you think of the fourth of July you think of fireworks, cookouts and time with family and friends. So while you’re with your family and friends this Independence Day, why not check out some of these American movies that capture the patriotic events of our American history.
1. The Patriot
I know, I know, an obvious choice for this list, but this movie was made before Mel Gibson lost his mind and Heath Ledger was still with us. Though not exactly historically accurate, its still an entertaining watch, and definitely appropriately set for Independence Day.
Classic Civil War-era film starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. Glory tells the tale of the first all-black volunteer infantry, chronicling the struggles of black soldiers who faced prejudice from both Union and Confederate forces.
3. To Kill A Mockingbird
Decades ahead of its time, To Kill A Mockingbird was one of the first major motion pictures to push for ethnic and racial equality. Based on Harper Lee’s novel about a white lawyer, Atticus Finch, who is appointed to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white girl, both media challenge the presence of racism and segregation in both American culture and even within the American justice system. This is a great American classic everybody should see.
4. Forrest Gump
Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his portrayal of Forrest Gump, a man with an IQ of 75 who witnesses first-hand the tumultuous events of the American 1960s, 70s and 80s. Anyone who is a fan of Tom Hanks or good filmmaking should see this movie, if you haven’t already.
5. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Clint Eastwood makes his third appearance as “The Man with No Name” in Sergio Leone’s epic American western. Set in the years of the Civil War, the film follows Eastwood as he encounters thieves, bandits, and the Union/Confederate struggle taking place as far west as Texas. This is a long one, but possibly one of the best films ever made, direction-wise anyway. You won’t be disappointed!
6. The Grapes of Wrath
John Ford directed this classic adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel. Set in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, the story recounts the tale of the Joad family, who abandon their home in Oklahoma and head out west in hopes of employment and a more promising future. Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell lead the cast in this epic tale of struggle, family, and endurance.
7. Apocalypse Now
Francis Coppola directed this story about Captain Willard, who is sent into the depths of the Vietnam struggle on a mission to assassinate an American general who has gone A-wall. The movie won Oscars for sound and cinematography and is possibly the most accurate representation of the Vietnam War and the effect it had on the men who fought it.
8. Saving Private Ryan
Steven Spielberg won the Best Director Oscar for his tale of a group of American soldiers assigned to rescue a paratrooper following the Normandy D-Day invasion. The opening sequence has gone down in cinematic history for Spielberg’s dramatic recreation of the D-Day attack and the film stands as one of Spielberg’s greatest directorial achievements.
9. Apollo 13
Tom Hanks makes this list for a third time in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, which follows the mission of Jim Lovell, Fred Hayes and Jack Swigert as they attempt to make it back to Earth after their ship suffers major damage and disables them from landing on the moon. Ed Harris, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon all give excellent performances as the members of the Apollo 13 crew and Houston Control, who work to bring the astronauts home safely during the seven-day ordeal. A great reflection of the space race during the Cold War era of America!
10. The Godfather, Parts I and II
This epic crime drama written by Mario Puzo and adapted to the screen by Francis Ford Coppola tells the story of the Corleone family and their rise to power in New York City and across the country, spanning the lengths of the Prohibition era 1920s all the way to the Cold War paranoia of the 1950s. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro lead the cast of this American epic, which secured both Oscars for Best Picture 1972 and 1974.