Thursday, July 5, 2012

Slightly belated 4th of July Film Festival

One of the downsides of being a 911 operator is working the holidays (the upside of the downside is the holiday pay). Some holidays one really doesn't care, but there are holidays that one really doesn't want to have to work, and July 4th is definitely one of them. Between people who call asking when the official fireworks show is going to be, and people calling complaining about the unofficial fireworks show up the street, it tends to be a very hectic day, and doesn't allow much time for contemplation of the day. It also means missing the grand July 4th film marathon on TCM. But never fear, today we are off, we loaded the DVR last night go out some DVDs this morning and are ready to go.

1776--but of course. One of the best, most faithful adaptations of a musical to film, its also, for all the Broadway conventions, one of the most accurate retellings of the process of creating our country. And William Daniels is positively brilliant as John Adams. Besides, with this heatwave that's on right now, I truly appreciate that its "Hot as hell, in Philadelphia"

Yankee Doodle Dandy--It wouldn't be July 4th without this movie anymore than it would be Christmas without Its a Wonderful Life.Even as a young child, in the pre cable, pre VCR era, someone always ran this movie and we always watched because my dad loved James Cagney. However cynical one may be about some of Cohan's jingoism, it doesn't matter when watching the film. When remembers it began filming just as Pearl Harbor was being bombed, it adds a great urgency to many scenes. James Cagney's acting is only bettered by his dancing, a skill that most people wouldn't even realize he possessed were it not for this movie. The rest of the cast is excellent also. But its Mr Cagney's movie all the way, and he won one of the most well deserved Oscars in history.

Gettysburg-- People forget the events of Gettysburg took place just before the 4th of July, or that both sets of combatants considered themselves the true heirs of the Founding Fathers. Moreover if the Revolutionary War gave us a country, the Civil War determined the country it was going to be. The large scale battle scenes have never been bettered, the actors give amazing performances, and its all based on the best novel ever written about the Civil War (Sorry Stephen Crane, but I put The Killer Angels ahead of The Red Badge of Courage.)

Since 1776 and Gettysburg are both long films I have already shot most of the day. If my son were home we would have probably be watching The Patriot, but Mel Gibson annoys me so much any more that he ruins even good films for me. (though I do appreciate Jason Isaac's villainy.) I wish there were a Revolutionary documentary as satisfactory as Ken Burns' Civil War, but I may watch Founding Brothers, or one of the excellent History Channel documentaries on individual founding fathers. Or I may just curl up later with David McCullough's John Adams biography. They all all choices that honor who we are and how we got here, and I think that's what Patriotic Holidays are all about.

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