Top Ten Patriotic Movies for the Fourth

Last year I listed here my top ten picks for movies about the America Revolution for the Fourth.  This year here is my list of patriotic movies for the Fourth.

10. National Treasure (2004)-Sure it’s cursed with a ridiculous plot involving the masons and a treasure, it is still a lot of fun and calls us back to the foundation document, the Declaration of Independence, that is the cornerstone of our Republic.

9. Hamburger Hill (1987)-Content advisory: very, very strong language in the video clip which may be viewed here.  All the Vietnam veterans I’ve mentioned it to have nothing but praise for this film which depicts the assault on Hill 937 by elements of the 101rst Division, May 10-20, 1969.  It is a fitting tribute to the valor of the American troops who served their country in an unpopular war a great deal better than their country served them.

8.    Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)-James Cagney in perhaps the greatest film bio of them all, a salute to George M. Cohan, the legendary composer, playwright and patriot.

7.    The Alamo (1960)-“The Republic” scene from The Alamo, a film which was basically John Wayne’s love note to America.

6.    Gettysburg (1993)-The movie that I think comes the closest to conveying to us the passions of the Civil War.  You really can’t understand America unless you understand the Civil War.  As Shelby Foote, one of the greatest historians of the war, said:  “Any understanding of this nation has to be based, and I mean really based, on an understanding of the Civil War. I believe that firmly. It defined us. The Revolution did what it did. Our involvement in European wars, beginning with the First World War, did what it did. But the Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. And it is very necessary, if you are going to understand the American character in the twentieth century, to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-nineteenth century. It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.”

5.    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)This movie came out at a time when fascism and communism seemed to be the wave of the future.  In the face of that dark reality, Mr. Smith is a brilliant paean to American democracy, and the idealism and devotion to the principles of the Founding Fathers that constantly battles against political corruption.

4.    Glory (1989)-The tale of the 54th Massachusetts in the Civil War, and a long overdue salute to the black troops who fought for the Union.  A superb film in every regard, and a model of  how history should be recreated on film.

3.    Wake Island (1942)-At the beginning of World War II the 1rst Marine Defense Battalion on Wake Island, gallantly supported by civilian workers, made an unforgettable stand against the Japanese.  This is the story of the American Thermopylae.

2.  Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)-Raymond Massey gives the performance of a life time as the greatest President this nation has ever had, save, perhaps, for George Washington.

1. 1776  (1972)-Singing and dancing Founding Fathers!  What’s not to love?  The film does a good job of depicting what a leap of faith the Declaration of Independence was.  For all the Founding Fathers knew, they could have all ended up dangling from British nooses, and cursed by their posterity.  They banished their fears and went boldly forward with their revolution, the most successful revolution in history, and which is still underway.

15 Responses to Top Ten Patriotic Movies for the Fourth

  1. T. Shaw says:

    “God gave us memory so that we could have roses in December.” J. M. Barries

  2. T. Shaw says:

    That should be “Barrie.”

  3. 1776? Yuck, I hated that movie.

    However, I do love the pick for “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

  4. Why is The Alamo on the list of patriotic movies? That battle was part of the Texas War for Independence. It has nothing to do with any part of the US outside of Texas. I agree there needs to be a John Wayne movie on the list but pick something patriotic to all 50 states like The Green Berets or the Sands of Iwo Jima.

  5. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “That battle was part of the Texas War for Independence. It has nothing to do with any part of the US outside of Texas.”

    “To The People of Texas and
    All Americans In The World —
    February 24, 1836

    Fellow citizens & compatriots —
    I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —


    William Barret Travis
    Lt. Col. Comdt.

    P.S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves -“

  6. That’s great that you can quote COL Travis, and he calls on American qualities, but so have many others around the world and the Alamo is still only relevant to Texan patriotism.

  7. Donald R. McClarey says:

    He called on all Americans in the world for aid. It is not only Texans who remember the Alamo.

  8. EegahInc says:

    Okay, I’m gonna have to send a little love towards 1776. I first saw it on a field trip in elementary school, and even then, the final scene where each man signs the Declaration and takes his place (ala Trumbull’s symbolic painting) while the Liberty Bell tolls sent chills up my spine. It really impressed on me the seriousness of the undertaking.

  9. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “while the Liberty Bell tolls sent chills up my spine.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has that reaction!

  10. I have posted what I believe to be the 13 best Patriotic movies for Independence day. (One for each of the thirteen original colonies.) Check it out at:

  11. Jim says:

    How could you leave out The Patriot ?

  12. Donald R. McClarey says:

    I had it on my top ten revolutionary war films for the Fourth.

  13. Meh. I’ll stick my neck out and say I don’t think The Patriot was a very good movie.

  14. Phillip says:

    Have to agree with Darwin. Will risk any run-in with Mel.

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