(Pictured above: Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, and William Daniels as John Adams, in ‘1776’)
Yesterday, The Savvy Screener recommended two TV series — TURN: Washington’s Spies and John Adams — that capture the spirit of the July 4th holiday.
In this second part of our series, we recommend films to put you in an Independence Day frame of mind:
More than 40 years before the Broadway musical Hamilton, John Adams, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson sang about the perils of revolution and launching a new nation.
Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, 1776 starred a number of actors who later became famous for TV roles: William Daniels (John Adams) as Dr. Craig in St. Elsewhere and Mr. Feeny in Boy Meets World, not to mention the voice of K.I.T.T. in Knight Rider; Ken Howard (Thomas Jefferson) as Coach Ken Reeves in The White Shadow; and John Cullum (Edward Rutledge) as Holling Vincoeur in Northern Exposure. 1776 dramatizes the congressional debates in Philadelphia that culminated in the drafting and signing of The Declaration of Independence. A dark meeting hall, thunder and lightning, and a tolling church bell make for an ominous finale.
Here, Jefferson, Franklin and Adams sing about the selection of the national bird (as it turns out, not the turkey):
Where can you stream 1776?
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
Granted, Daniel Webster was a 19th century US congressman, not an 18th century American revolutionary, but he was known in his day as one of the union’s most passionate defenders. In this film, Webster, played by Edward Arnold, wages an oratorical duel with Satan to extract a New Hampshire farmer from a soul-binding contract. A great chance to see a legendary actor, Walter Huston, turn in a devilish performance as Mr. Scratch.
Where can you stream The Devil and Daniel Webster?
Al Pacino plays New York trapper Tom Dobb whose son Ned is enticed into joining the Continental Army. A reluctant Tom joins the cause in order to protect his son but soon comes to believe in the fight for freedom. The cast includes Donald Sutherland, Nastassja Kinski and Joan Plowright.
The Time of Their Lives (1946)
The comedy duo of Abbott and Costello, better known for throwing it down with Dracula and Frankenstein, star in this film about two ghosts who, mistakenly branded as traitors during the Revolutionary War, return to 20th century New England to retrieve a letter signed by George Washington that will clear their names. Lou Costello and Marjorie Reynolds play the wronged ghosts, and Bud Abbott plays Cuthbert Greenway/Dr. Ralph Greenway.
Where can you stream The Time of Their Lives?
Unfortunately, the film is currently not available for viewing online from a verifiable streaming service. It is, however, part of The Best of Abbott & Costello, Volume 2 DVD collection, which can be purchased from Amazon.
(Note: This is an updated version of a previously published article.)
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