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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

retro trailer: ‘1776’

Take a look back at an old trailer…

Happy Fourth of July to my readers in the U.S. (To everyone else, happy Sunday.) It’s as disgusting in Philadelphia today — and in New York, too — as it was on this same day 234 years ago, as they all sing about here (well, in the movie, not in the trailer). At least we don’t have to wear wigs, corsets, and other such torture devices anymore, which must have been horrible in this kind of heat and humidity.

(I reviewed this for Fourth of July a decade ago.)

1776 is available on DVD in Region 1 from Amazon.com and from Amazon.ca; it is not available in Region 2. I wouldn’t have thought the Brits would hold a grudge that long.

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  • The movie is an oversimplification of the actual events, but so much fun to watch. De Silva’s performance of Franklin had to have been a hoot for him…

    Quotable quotes (by the way, I’ve missed those this year):

    Adams: This is positively indecent!
    Franklin: Oh, John, they’re young and they’re in love.
    Adams: Not them, Franklin. *Us!* Standing out here, waiting for them to… I mean, what will people think?
    Franklin: Don’t worry, John. The history books will clean it up.
    Adams: It doesn’t matter. I won’t be in the history books anyway, only you. (beat) Franklin did this and Franklin did that and Franklin did some other damn thing. Franklin smote the ground and out sprang… George Washington, fully grown and on his horse. Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightning rod and the three of them- Franklin, Washington, and the horse- conducted the entire revolution by themselves. (turns back to where Franklin was standing)
    Franklin: (grins) I like it.

  • Vanessa

    Happy 4th everyone.

    1776 was one of the first Broadway plays I ever saw as a kid and it still has a special place in my heart. what a great cast!

    I saw John Cullum on Broadway in this part–he was a *replacement* but thank goodness they realized he should be in the film. What a voice!!

    And I agree with Paul–after being blacklisted for so long, for Howard DaSilva to play one of the great heroes of the American Revolution was really delicious.

  • Kathy_A

    One of my all-time favorite films! And it produced one of my favorite meta-episodes of TV in St. Elsewhere, when Dr. Craig (played by William Daniels, John Adams here) and his wife go to a conference in Philadelphia. The episode’s writers filled the script with 1776 references, from Craig calling himself “obnoxious and disliked” to saying that “it’s hot as hell in Philadelphia.”

    My favorite movie quote is something that has applied from that time to this: “A second flood, a simple famine, plagues of locusts everywhere, or a cataclysmic earthquake, I’d accept with some despair. But no, You sent us Congress! Good God, Sir, was that fair?”

    Also, “I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!”

  • Patti H.

    Even though I own the lovely, lovely restored DVD version, I just sat through TCM’s presentation of the film, because that’s my favorite 4th of July activity.

    And for those of us who live in NY, this exchange never gets old!

    Lewis Morris: Mr. President, have you ever been present at a meeting of the New York legislature?

    [Hancock shakes his head “No”]

    Lewis Morris: They speak very fast and very loud, and nobody listens to anybody else, with the result that nothing ever gets done.
    [turns to the Congress as he returns to his seat]
    I beg the Congress’s pardon.

  • ha! i’ve been thinking about that Lewis Morris quote all week. *sigh* nothing has changed. and so i abstain. courteously.

  • So, so, so good. Practically any moment from the film is good for a quote. Here’s a favorite (why can’t current debates in Congress be this witty?):

    Dickinson: What’s so terrible about being called an Englishman? The English don’t seem to mind.

    Franklin: Nor would I, were I given the full rights of an Englishman. But to call me one without those rights is like calling an ox a bull. He’s thankful for the honor, but he’d much rather have restored what’s rightfully his.

    Dickinson: When did you first notice they were missing, sir?

    …And the bit towards the end always gets me, where the secretary reads Washington’s letter reporting that he has 5,000 men to stand against 25,000 British troops. “And I begin to notice that many of us are lads under fifteen and old men, none of whom can truly be called soldiers. How it will end, only providence can direct. But dear God, what brave men I shall lose, before this business ends.”

    And yet, incredibly, they ultimately won, this ragtag army defending a beloved homeland from an invading force superior in numbers and war tech. Something we should perhaps bear in mind when we go (arrogant-Lee? thoughtless-Lee?) invading other lands ourselves.

    (By the way: For those in New York, a copy of the Declaration of Independence–in Thomas Jefferson’s handwriting–is on view all this month at the New York Public Library on 42nd and 5th.)

  • i believe the NYPL shows the document every year. i’ve gone and read it several times; it always chokes me up. i think the whole thing runs 1500 words. a model of succinct, concise and pointed writing.

  • i believe the NYPL shows the document every year.

    Yep. A copy of this nation’s foundational document, in the handwriting of the Founder who composed it (and you can even see the crossed-out words and phrases)–shown to the public in July of every year, for free. Because libraries rock.

    Thinking more about 1776: this was also the movie–particularly that last scene, with Washington’s dispatch from “the Brooklyn Heights”–that drove home to me how steeped in history NYC actually is. I always associated places like Boston and Pennsylvania more with Revolutionary history, and tended to think of New York as a rootless, ultramodern city, always putting up new buildings and erasing its past; and yet this was where the British landed their fleet, and where the Battle of Brooklyn was fought–the first battle after declaring nationhood, and the largest conflict of the entire war. Now I know there’s tons of historical sites to visit here, and I always try to learn more about the old ghosts and stories underneath the city’s facade, and I have 1776 to thank for that.

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