Friday, March 01, 2024


Granger at the Movies: Patriotic Movies to Celebrate 4th of July

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

Patriotism means loyalty to one’s country, so here are some of America’s most patriotic films — old and new — that you can stream at home (in alphabetical order): Image

“1776” (1972), directed by Peter H. Hunt. Adapted from the Broadway musical, it chronicles the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the Founding Fathers (William Daniels, Howard da Silva, Ken Howard, John Cullum, Blythe Danner). Streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu.

“Air Force One” (1997), directed by Wolfgang Peterson. After making a speech in Moscow stating that he’ll never negotiate with terrorists, the plane carrying the U.S. President (Harrison Ford) is hijacked by Kazakhstani terrorists. It’s an edge-of-your-seat popcorn thriller. Streaming on Apple TV, Fandango & Vudu.

“Born on the Fourth of July” (1991), directed by Oliver Stone. Based on Ron Kovic’s memoir, this realistic, powerful drama follows Kovic (Tom Cruise) from his naive teens to serving as a Marine in Vietnam, where his spine is severed. Paralyzed, he becomes an anti-war activist in the mid-70s. Ron Kovic is in the opening parade sequence, and Oliver Stone plays a TV reporter. Streaming on Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV & Vudu.

“Glory” (1989), directed by Edward Zwick, stars Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes and Andre Braugher. Based in part on the letters from a young officer, it’s the heroic story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first African American unit to be formed in the North during the Civil War. Streaming on Prime Video, Apple TV & Vudu.

“Grant” (2020), a miniseries, based on the Ulysses S. Grant biography by Ron Chernow (related to Westport lithographer Ann Chernow). As the victorious Union Army General and 18th President of the United States, Grant was known for his tactical acumen and tenacity in working for the emancipation of African Americans. It’s available on the History Channel.

‘Hamilton” (2020), directed by Thomas Kail, is the filmed version of the hit Broadway musical by Lin-Manual Miranda, based on another Ron Chernow historical biography. Premiering on Disney Plus on July 3, it explores the life of Alexander Hamilton during and beyond the American Revolution, featuring the original cast, including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr.

“Lincoln” (2012), directed by Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day-Lewis stars as President Abraham Lincoln who is determined to end the Civil War and abolish slavery through the 13th Amendment. Tony Kushner wrote the provocative screenplay, based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals.” Streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Showtime Anytime.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939), directed by Frank Capra. Jimmy Stewart plays idealistic Sen. Jefferson Smith, who is so appalled by the corruption in Washington that he embarks on a 24-hour filibuster, maintaining: “Great principles don’t get lost. They’re right here. You just have to see them again.” Streaming on Prime Video, Apple TV & Vudu.

“Patton” (1970), directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North, it’s an unabashed tribute to the World War II General, brilliantly played by George C. Scott with Karl Malden impressive as General Omar Bradley. Streaming on Netflix, Starz, Amazon.

“Saving Private Ryan” (1998), directed by Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks stars as a U.S. Army Captain whose mission is to find one particular G.I. whose three brothers have been already killed in combat and return him home safely in the midst of the W. W. II D-Day Invasion. Streaming on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes.

“Sergeant York” (1941), directed by Howard Hawks. Gary Cooper stars as Alvin York, a recent Christian convert, struggling to balance his pacifist beliefs with his desire to defend his country in World War I. Streaming on Prime Video, Apple TV & Vudu.

“Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942), directed by Michael Curtiz, with Jimmy Cagney as singing/dancing Irish-American actor/playwright/songwriter George M. Cohan, who inspired Americans during World War II with “Over There” and other songs. Sadly, some elements are dated — like vaudeville performers in blackface and African Americans sing “Battle Hymn of the Republic” — but in this instance, I side with Golda Meir who said, “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” Plus, Cagney gives one of the best performances of his career. Streaming on Amazon, YouTube, Vudu. Image

(Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at

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