May the Fourth Be with You!
Celebrate America with These Patriotic, Pro-American Movies
Here’s a good way to instill in your children patriotism and a love of America: Watch a patriotic movie. The only trouble is that these days, those movies are few and far between.
Here are “Ted’s Picks” for patriotic, pro-American movies with faith and values, many of which you can watch with your whole family this holiday and some that require extreme caution even for older teenagers and adults because of some rough content.
The list is divided into Classics and Recent Movies.
**Note: Some of these recent movies contain strong subject matter, so caution or even extreme caution is warranted, even for older teenagers and adults.
1. DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1939: Action, drama, sentiment, and humor are deftly woven into the best Christian movie ever made so far about America’s War for Independence. It also is a wonderful portrayal of the American pioneer spirit. John Ford creates a masterpiece, capturing the flavor of Colonial life in this vigorous, courageous story of settlers defending their liberty in upstate N. Y. during the Revolutionary War, starring Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, Edna May Oliver, Ward Bond, Arthur Shields, and Chief John Big Tree.
2. JOHNNY TREMAIN: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1957: JOHNNY TREMAIN is a classic Walt Disney historical drama movie about how the title character changes from an overconfident, selfish silversmith’s apprentice into a principled American patriot ready to lay down his life in the Revolutionary War. JOHNNY TREMAIN is a quintessential historical Walt Disney movie from the 1950s featuring patriotism, positive Christian themes, Bible quotes, prayer, a musical number, and battle scenes with no blood. The Christian theme of transformation through love is driven home by quoting Bible verses and prayers.
3. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4 – 1942: This is a great family movie about the patriotic career of Broadway star and composer George M. Cohen, who is played brilliantly by James Cagney in one of the greatest performances ever captured on celluloid. We defy any viewer to hold back a tear when Cohen hears soldiers singing his World War I hit “Over There” while marching off to war to fight Hitler in World War II. The movie celebrates the ways in which Cohen used his musical talent to honor America and its basic values. Cagney’s unique interpretation of dance, which he showed off to great effect in 1933’s FOOTLIGHT PARADE, is also an awesome joy to behold.
4. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1939: The 1939 Frank Capra classic starring Jimmy Stewart, this movie demonstrates that the little guy can stand up to big government. A watershed movie for the common man, it serves as an example that Big Government will not crush the human spirit. It continues to sound a call for ethics, morality and integrity in our highest offices.
5. MEET JOHN DOE: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4 – 1941: Another Frank Capra classic, MEET JOHN DOE is a celebration of American populism and a refutation of fascism, seen from a very strong Christian perspective promoting the Spirit of Christmas and the Second Great Commandment, “Love thy neighbor.” In perhaps his best performance apart from SERGEANT YORK and HIGH NOON, Gary Cooper gives a wonderful patriotic speech based on that biblical, moral principle in the big turning point in the movie’s first act. The great character actor, James Gleason, follows it up with another patriotic speech in the third act about the Founding Fathers being “lighthouses” for the whole world to admire. Tying everything up with a beautiful bow is Barbara Stanwyck’s heartbreaking performance as the story’s catalyst, who tells a despondent, suicidal Gary Cooper at the end of the movie that he doesn’t need to die for the world because “someone already did that” 2000 years ago. Arrayed against these heroic characters is a fascist cabal of Big Labor and Big Government leaders led by a Big Journalism leader, and would-be dictator, played by Edward Arnold in one of the very best villain roles in movie history.
1. AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1986: AN AMERICAN TAIL is a beautifully animated, delightful story about the Mousekowitz family, father, mother, sister, baby, and brother, Fievel, the main character of the story. The family travels to America after they’re routed out of their homes in Russia by mean Russian cats. On the boat to America, dreams are high as they sing, “There are no cats in America and the streets are paved with cheese.” During a storm, Fievel is swept overboard and separated from his family. Fievel floats to Ellis Island in a bottle and is rescued by a friendly pigeon helping to build the Statue of Liberty. AN AMERICAN TAIL is a great patriotic movie about immigrants coming to America. Family ties are also stressed.
2. JOHN ADAMS: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: -1 – 2008: JOHN ADAMS is the acclaimed HBO TV miniseries on one of America’s most important founding fathers, and the second president of the United States, who led a glorious, mostly positive life of great influence. The acting, writing and direction are superb. JOHN ADAMS is rich in political, philosophic and spiritual dialogue that recognizes Christian faith in every critical moment.
3. 1776: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: -2 – 1972: A superb cast, helped along by a wonderful score with inspiring lyrics, pulls off this delightful, sometimes heartbreaking and often funny musical about the debates, the writing and the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The movie is also a love letter to the joys and strengths of traditional marriage. The political issues portrayed in this patriotic movie are still very much with us today. Best of all, perhaps, the movie presents a poignant, positive view of the American military, including its citizen soldiers, led by the greatest citizen soldier of them all, General George Washington.
4. THE PATRIOT: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: -2 – 2000: THE PATRIOT stars Mel Gibson as a family man named Benjamin Mark, who wrestles with his desire for revenge and the just cause of the American War for Independence in the late 1700s. The cruel British Colonel Tavington played impeccably by Jason Isaacs, shoots Ben’s 15-year-old son, Thomas, as Ben’s oldest son, Gabriel, is led away captive. Thus, Ben’s fury is unleashed, and taking his two youngest boys, he goes into the woods to fight a guerilla war, slaughtering the British and rescuing Gabriel. Ben continues to wrestle with his sinful desire for vengeance and the worthiness of the Revolutionary cause. Eventually, he sees that he needs to stay the course, and he rejects vengeance to take up the flag. The violent battle scenes may concern older moviegoers, while younger moviegoers might chafe at the soul-searching, but the heart of this movie is faith. Prayer runs throughout the movie, and the Cross of Jesus Christ is lifted up. THE PATRIOT is also a terrific, engrossing movie. One can only hope that this soul searching and pain will lead many to search for the God to whom Ben prays so often in this story.
5. NATIONAL TREASURE: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +1 – 2004: NATIONAL TREASURE is a rollicking, witty adventure mystery starring Nicolas Cage as a contemporary Indiana Jones hero hunting clues to a treasure hidden for hundreds of years. Although it shows a couple Masonic symbols that help locate the treasure, the movie is not occult or anti-Christian, but is a family-friendly entertainment that honors early American history, the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and ideals such as liberty, traditional family values, bravery, honor, patriotism, loyalty, and justice.