It may be my fondness for mythology that makes me love to watch particular movies around particular holidays. I say that because many of the well- known myths were recited on ancient holidays when their subject matter was relevant to those holidays. The stories helped accentuate the meaning of the special events and that’s the way I use various movies. At Christmas I watch countless variations of A Christmas Carol, around Labor Day I watch Matewan, at Halloween The Evil Dead and the original Nightmare On Elm Street, Thanksgiving Eve I do Oliver! and for Frontierado (which is just a month away now) I do Silverado.
Since the actual 4th of July is loaded with activity I always show 1776 on the night before. It’s a great way to get in the mood for Independence Day. It’s a musical but with brilliant dialogue portions and the story involves the political maneuvering surrounding the Original Thirteen Colonies at last announcing their independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the shots fired at Lexington and Concord started the war. The story is excellently conveyed and is moving, comical, invigorating and poignant all at once. As long as you know which parts of the tale are depicted accurately and which are complete b.s. it’s a terrific way to spend each 3rd of July.
The movie was originally a Broadway musical and stars William Daniels as John Adams, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, Howard Da Silva as Ben Franklin and Virginia Vestoff as Abigail Adams. Sure, some of the songs are so stupid not even Barney the Purple Dinosaur would be caught dead singing them, but that could be said of just about all musicals. The dialogue portions make the movie for me and are very witty and filled with sly references that history buffs will love. I’m no reactionary flag-waver but this musical is a wonderful way to wish a Happy Birthday each year to the country and political system Abraham Lincoln once called “the last, best hope of Earth.”