|1776 (Restored Director's Cut)
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The hit Broadway musical by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards became the basis for this 1972 film about America's first congress and the nation's declaration of independence from Britain. Most of the original cast members are aboard, including William Daniels as John Adams. The film is a little stodgy and moves stiffly from scene to scene--the adaptation to the screen is not a smooth success. But it is nonetheless captivating, considering that so few films have dealt directly with America's birth. Directed by Peter H. Hunt. --Tom Keogh
- As Good As It Gets
I hate musicals. I love this movie. Everything is there. Great writing, great acting, great directing. I agree with my fellow reviewer who said this is a must-see every 4th of July....more info
- Fun and mostly reliable account of the writing of the Declaration of Independence
The good first. This is a very faithful representation of the stage show, and the extended director's cut includes some fun (and some repetitive) commentary on the making of the film. The characters present a more human view of the work of the Second Continental Congress, removing the untouchable loftiness so often connected with figures like Ben Franklin and John Adams. The production shows the falterings and failings and sometimes bickering attendant with political life. Viewers will enjoy seeing a familiar cast in roles exploiting their musical gifts(I think of John Cullum from Northern Exposure, and William Daniels from Boy Meets World). The bad - there are of course historical inaccuracies, chief of which is Martha Jefferson never came to Philadelphia, an important plot point in the show. But so much good is in the show, the bad isn't worth worrying about. Our family loved the stage presentation, and loved the film....more info
- A Salute To Our Radical Forefathers
Not long ago, I reviewed a musical film here, and received a commentary from a fellow reviewer who said they were curious if I'd done a review of another filmed musical, 1776. At the time I thought, "Oh that thing" - I remembered seeing the show, and my reaction to it, but I'd forgotten how much I liked it, why I liked it - and vaguely remembered why I didn't like the film. I had acquired the "restored" DVD some time ago, but didn't get around until now to watching it, or to renewing in my mind what I'd liked about the show some 37 years ago...
I first saw 1776 on Broadway in 1971; it was, in fact, the first Broadway show I'd ever seen. I was 17 at the time, and I now remember that I was blown away by the mix of history, music and patriotic sentiment that I saw on stage. As many people know, the show surrounds the fight to get the Continental Congress to declare American independence, and how several members of Congress resisted the effort of the "agitators" to take up the "treasonous" cause of breaking with England.
One of the most powerful moments in the show for me (as a young person, tired of the Viet Nam war at the time) was the song, Mama, Look Sharp, in which a messenger from George Washington recounts how a soldier lay dying in the battlefield, while his mother searches for him. But the anti-war sentiment of that song was not as potent as the message in a song that immediately preceded Mama Look Sharp.
That number was called, "Cool, Cool Considerate Men". It was a song in which the "right wing" members of Congress boast of their expectancy to prevail in the debate over independence, and defeat the resolution. Paul Hecht, as John Dickenson, gloats to his fellow conservative Congressmen, "...don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich, rather than face the reality of being poor. That is why they will follow us
To the right
Ever to the right
Never to the left
Forever to the right..."
When I saw the film version at Radio City Music hall, I was disturbed that the song, "Cool, Cool Considerate Men" had been excised from the film. According to the notes on the DVD, then-President Richard Nixon himself objected to the song, and the producers reluctantly agreed to delete it, rather than incite controversy. Happily, the restored director's cut includes this important song in its entirety, and alters the focus of the narrative.
Now, visiting this film 37 years later, I am struck by the irony and topicality of the song, its meaning and its basis in history. Of course, Ben Franklin and John Adams did not dance in the halls while the first reading of the Declaration of Independence took place, but the creators of 1776 were very careful to preserve the attitudes, beliefs and advocacies of the main characters presented in the show. And if the presentations of those attitudes and beliefs are historically accurate (and there is little reason to doubt that they are) the fact seems to be that American Independence came down to a struggle between conservative forces who wanted to preserve the status quo, and progressives who wanted to advance the cause of liberty. After all, Adams, Jefferson, Hancock and Franklin were all, in their own way, revolutionaries (why do you think it was called the American Revolution?) and their cause was not only unpopular, it was in fact quite radical.
It somehow has become fashionable to link the left with a lack of patriotism. It is therefore with a great deal of pride in my own liberal sentiments that I heartily recommend the restored version of 1776 as a testament to the fact that our founding fathers were very much revolutionaries, and the reality that the very birth of our country was a triumph of progressive values over conservative ones. The year after the film 1776 was released, I voted for the first time. I have never missed an election since, and I have never pulled the voting lever for anything but what I consider progressive candidates or issues. That's the Revolutionary spirit, and I am proud to call myself a "progressive", just as John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are portrayed as progressives in 1776.
Although some of the musical numbers, romanticism and sentimentality of 1776 are, at times, over the top, the basic message is solid, and definitely worth a look. And the next time someone tells you that "liberals" are unpatriotic, tell them to watch 1776. They just may get a few surprises.
- Musical nostalgia and historic story telling...
When I was in seventh grade back in 1973, my class took a field trip to see this movie. It was only a few years before the bi-centennial, but already people in the US were becoming more and more patriotic minded.
I viewed this movie with the idea that it was a musical first, then a historical perspective about the signing of the declaration of independence. "1776" delivers very well on both counts.
The opening number - "Sit down, John" sets the stage for what is already well known - John Adams is highly opinionated when it comes to "independency". However, he is in a fluctuating minority and is in desperate need of support. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams companion and fellow supporter, enlists the assistance of Richard Henry Lee of Virginia as a supporting voice from outside New England. The musical number "The Lees of Old Virginia" is a catchy tune that sees Henry accept the challenge of getting the colony of Virginia to back a motion for independence for all colonies. Henry's statement "a short stop to refresh the Missus and then off to the matter" is both comical and to the point. All of the men who participate in the Continental Congress balance their work as representatives with a large portion of self sacrifice for their home life and business.
From here we see the day to day operation of the Continental Congress - the formal and informal, the serious and not so serious. The missing representatives from New Jersey arrive just in time to vote on the initial motion to declare independence from England when John Dickenson submits that this vote must be unanimous. The split decision is broken by the John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, in surprise support for unanimity. While John Adams fumes "the man is from Massachusetts" Hancock eloquently explains how the new independent colonies cannot carry on it "the mark of Cain." This is a very powerful statement and provides the catalyst for the need of a "Declaration of Independence". While John Adams attempts to explain the use of such a document, Thomas Jefferson declares "To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent." With this statement, the declaration committee is formed and Thomas Jefferson, much to his dismay, is asked to write the document. (The decision on who will write the declaration is set nicely to the song "But, Mr. Adams")
We are treated to one of the most serious musical numbers in the movie when the courier from the Continental Army describes the scene of the battle of Lexington and Concord in the song "Mama Look Sharp". This solemn solo reminds us that there is a price for liberty and freedom. A price that is already being paid by many members of the rag tag Continental Army.
At this point we see the both the writing of the declaration begin, and the lobbying of the remainder of the Continental Congress on why independence is necessary. These efforts come back together when the declaration is presented to the Continental Congress. While the delegates are getting their first taste of the declaration, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin muse on the birth of the new nation in the song "The Egg." Thank goodness Franklin relents to having the symbol of the United States be an Eagle instead of a Turkey.
The South voices its concern over the declaration and in particular to its attempts to eliminate slavery. In the song "Molasses to Rum" John Cullum provides a passionate performance, and expresses the difficult political situation slavery represents. However, I am afraid that it is a difficult argument to understand in the context of 2007.
This solemn tone is continued on the eve of the vote for independence. John Adams summarizes the anguish of having a vision for a new nation and independence while some around him seem blind to the need for either. The song "Is Anybody There" serves as the final plea for these ideals amidst 13 colonies who have yet to become a United States.
I enjoyed this movie a great deal. It is the type of movie that needs to be on the shelf, ready for viewing by young and old alike on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and any other patriotic holiday where the questions of how this nation got its start are asked. While it is a bit long, the musical numbers help pass the time and tell the story. The historical facts are mostly accurate and should not be discounted.
After viewing this movie for the first time in over 30 years I did have to pause and consider how lucky we are as a nation. The vision held by our nation's fathers and promoted through the political process was remarkable.
I also had an uncontrollable urge to drink rum.
- Did Ben Franklin have gout, or did it just rhyme well?
I bought this DVD to celebrate my neighbors' receiving their green cards and starting their way onto citizenship. We saw it together and it was fun. Not all of the songs or performances will stick with you after viewing, and a 10-year-old in the room occassionally got bored between songs, but it was still entertaining and educational.
- 1776 - Awesome!
The most entertaining musical I've ever seen. The directors cut provides you with scenes cut from the original, providing a fully more delightful story....more info
- 1776 - Wonderful teaching tool
I recently finished teaching my Founding Fathers/American Revolution unit in History with my 5th grade students. At the end, I showed the movie 1776. I have enjoyed the movie and the music for years, but I wasn't sure how the children would like it. They LOVED it. I think that by showing the movie, they were able to put faces and personalities to all of the men and women we had studied. They enjoyed the music (especially BUT MR Adams and Sit down, John) and were completely tickled with Benjamin Franklin. I am not a fan of movies in the classroom, but I will make sure that 1776 is part of my teaching when I get to the 1770's in American History for the rest of my career! ...more info
- Even Better
1776 is an almost unbelievable musical considering the subject matter upon which it is based. Yet it works and is even better and more informative now that the cuts suggested by President Nixon have been restored. This musical gives a humorous and, at many times, angst producing view of the men who produced one of the great documents of history by showing what they left out of it....more info
- An American Celebration
The purchase of this DVD was made to replace a botched VHS tape (which was scan/pan and undoubtedly the edited version prepared for TV). The show is/was/will always be absolutely outstanding, with great performances from cast members, most of whom appeared in the Broadway musical presentation. Not only is it great entertainment, but it perhaps captures some of the actual emotions and turbulence of the period. In our house, it has served to entertain and amuse several foreign high school exchange students, making a "living" connection to their otherwise rather dry exposure to U.S. history. Highest recommendation for the restored director's cut....more info
- Great Movie!
I love this movie!!!!! I truly recommend this to families that would like their children to learn about our countries (THE USA that is) Independence! Thanks...more info
- 1776 America's Best
This should be shown to every American yearly. It captures the spirit and drama of the times. It's a history lesson with music. After seeing Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin, you have to wonder if their efforts were rewarded when you look at the current crop who walk the halls of Congress. This is a must for every lover of liberty's DVD collection....more info
- 1776 is Revolutionary!
This filmed version of the Broadway play is delightful to see and hear, and like all good stories contains hidden gems not found the first, second or third time around. All Americans with a sense of both history and humor should watch it annually, if not more often....more info
- The Music of History
"1776" is an old favorite for my husband and his family, and no matter how many times I'm made to watch it (or to listen to my husband re-enact it in its entirety), it never gets tiresome. In masterful musical form, "1776" presents the passionate debate, political maneuvering, and personal dramas that culminated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The musical score contains a wealth of different facets and emotions. The heartrending "Mama, Look Sharp"--sung beautifully by a teenage courier (Stephen Nathan)--tells of a young soldier calling out to his mother as he dies on the battlefield at Lexington. John and Abigail Adams correspond with one another in the romantic "Till Then" and "Yours, Yours, Yours," which contain many of the real words of their letters. "Molasses to Rum to Slaves," which Edward Rutledge (John Cullum) sings very powerfully, points out that Northern cities like Boston profit from the triangle slave trade, whatever moralizing comes out of them. Many of the songs are lighthearted and will tend to get stuck in your head: "Sit Down, John," "The Lees of Old Virginia," "The Egg," and "But, Mr. Adams."
Although "1776" does take a few liberties with the history for the sake of drama (for example, the Declaration wasn't actually signed on July 4), it is mostly accurate, depicting the interesting dynamics of the time. The movie shows the internal disagreements that plagued the Second Continental Congress, such as the desire of the South to maintain its autonomy from a centralized government and the arguments for and against independence. The Restored Director's Cut includes the song "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men" (originally taken out at Nixon's behest), which explains the viewpoint of the "rational," conservative opponents of independence. In contrast, the "obnoxious and disliked" Adams (played wonderfully by William Daniels) reminds us that America was born through passionately radical ideas, treasonous behavior, and a will that defied prudence and common sense.
Also included are some classic Ben Franklin quotes ("We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately" and "Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither liberty nor safety"), in addition to real dispatches from George Washington (who really needed to work on his skill at boosting morale). I also liked the fact that "1776" shows the contributions of women like Abigail Adams, who organized other women to make salt peter for the war effort.
This is simply a great musical. It brings the history and its players to life in a way that will have you singing for days. ...more info
- Better with age
First,a note about closed captioning-an important feature in this household. The DVD has yellow English subtitles which do not interfere with the widescreen viewing and the CC(which we prefer) on our set converts the words wonderfully. Interesting that a recent showing of this film on Turner Movie Classics still does not have the CC available(they are usually very good about broadcasting CC,while boneheaded AMC could care less)-a main reason why we spent the money for the DVD.
Much of both the negative and positive criticisms contain truths. It is a bit stilted. Watching historical figures break into song and dance a la Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly takes some getting used to. Comparing this kind of movie musical to the then-current "Cabaret" is a bit unfair. On its own terms and with repeated viewings,this show takes on a life of is own. The idea of keeping many ties to the Broadway version(including director Peter Hunt, choreographer Onna White and Orchestrator Eddie Sauter,ands casting many of the stage actors instead of film stars was probably one reason why the film version sank at the box office but why it glows today. Most of the players here were not overexposed in other projects. Blythe Danner is probably the closest who became a movie star(filmed here while pregnant and carrying future movie star Gwyneth Paltrow),while Daniels,Cullum and Howard achieved success on TV. Da Silva,out of film work for years during the Hollywood Communist blacklisting,steals many a scene as Franklin. And I bet there are few patriots who aren't moved by Daniel's look into the future, "Is Anybody There?",-the sentiments expressed in the song are still true today.
A tad too long,yes,but there really isn't anything here that should be left out,especially since Executive Producer Jack Warner tried this and did the wrong thing.
People following Daniels career will see lots of inside references to his work in "1776" in future TV projects,"St. Elsewhere" and "Boy Meets World",besides other roles Daniels has taken on portraying members of the real Adams family(I wonder if there are any references in "Knight Rider"?)....more info
- Director's cut and commentary are brilliant!
I saw this on Broadway and in the movies when released. The restored director's cut is a vast improvement in picture, sound and continuity. I love the justice that 30 years brought in allowing the director to have the final say. Take that, Jack Warner!
William Daniels is so magnificent,I've been unable to get him out of my head in subsequent Adams works. He IS Adams to me. ...more info
- 36 years later it all comes together!
I saw this film multiple times in the movies at 4 years of age with my parents and listened to the record also. Twenty years later when purchasing the VHS, I noted that "Cool Considerate Men" wasn't there even though I remembered the song from the record. My father told me then that the song was in the play on Broadway, (which he saw with my mom), but was never in the film.
Now seeing the film WITH "Cool Considerate Men" in the film it has such meaning and I can't but help feel so sad that we couldn't have seen it back in 1972. It was well filmed and has an artistic quality to it.
It is a very enjoyable work however I was a bit disappointed that the director's cut had left out some of the original movie that I feel helped to make this much stronger. I would recommend that the original be placed in position for sale so the individual does not miss out on some of the nuances that take place around George Washington having actually been appointed General in charge of the army....more info
this is a favorite old musical for me--love having it on dvd and having special features....more info
- Where is Samuel Adams?
The neglect of Samuel Adams is inexcusable. "I always considered him," said Jefferson, "more than any other member, the fountain of our more important measures."...more info
IF YOU ENJOY MUSICALS AND AMERICAN HISTORY, THIS IS THE ONE FOR YOU. AN ACCURATE RENDITION OF HOW OUR DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE WAS HASHED OUT. (WRITTEN IN SONG NO LESS) EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT A HISTORY BUFF IT'LL AT LEAST HELP YOU OUT PLAYING JEOPARDY. GREAT DVD!!!!!...more info
- 1776 values could be used in 2007!
The Texas "cowbpy" should watch and learn. This movie is a wonderful example of the spirit on which this country was founded. He should especially pay attention n to the quote from Ben Franklin, "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither" Although he may need Laura to explain it to him!...more info
- Second-Best Version
Firstly, if you've never seen this movie, do. Period. You'd never think that a movie or a Broadway musical about the Declaration of Independence could be interesting; after all, we know how it ends. But this is an entertaining and (dare I say it) educational film. It shows our Fouding Fathers as they were: real men with real ambitions and real problems. They aren't just marble busts in a museum.
Second, the DVD isn't the definitive version of the movie. As stated before, the laser disc has the entire 180 minute version. The version originally released on VHS was Jack Warner's expurgated version (the one without the Gamete). The DVD still lacks the entire scenes of "Pitter, Twitter and Resolve" and "The Lees of Old Virginia." I own a laser disc player and the only disc I haven't turned into DVD is this one. It's also the first laser disc I ever bought.
The ensemble cast is spectacular, many reprising their original Broadway roles. I can't imagine a remake of this movie, the casting is so perfect. It's interesting to see the Governor from Benson, Holling from Northern Exposure, Coach from The White Shadow (yes, Ken Howard CAN sing), and the voice of KITT from the original Knight Rider in one movie. It's also nice to see Howard DaSilva back after being blacklisted after the McCarthy fiasco.
To end: buy this for now. When the laser disc version comes to DVD, trade up....more info
- GREAT RESTORATION OF MODERN MUSICAL CLASSIC
This is a well-meant and well-received restoration of a now-classic musical. 1776 was a smash on Broadway but was drastically edited before release, omitting one important song and scenes that fleshed out important characters (and their motivations). This restoration fixes much of the insult that was done, and performances by Blythe Danner, Virginia Vestoff, and others now glow with their original charm. William Daniels, Howard DaSilva, and Ken Howard are excellent, and what a thrill that their performances are captured here. Especially enjoyed the audio commentary with the director, not to mention the restoration of the original credits. I saw this movie multiple times upon its original release -- heck, I worked at the theatre where it played -- and it has never lost its magic for me....more info
- Kind of Disappointed
I love this movie and know all the songs and dialog but for some reason, don't ask me why, I assumed the "Director's Cut" would be in letterbox. You would think that the director would like to have his movie in that format. It isn't and for me it negates all the extras since I can't even see all the people in the scenes....more info
Viewing 1776 on the 4th of July has been a tradition in my family ever since I can remember. Since I no longer have VCR equipment I needed to have the DVD. As always, it's delightful....more info
- Excellent Movie!!!
This has become a favorite for our family and we share it frequently with friends. While not strictly historically accurate in small details (after all, it IS a theatrical production), it provides a wonderful sense of what our Founding Fathers went through to get this great nation established. Highly recommended. ...more info
- A Classic!
I have loved this movie since I was a little girl! The performances are stellar and the director's cut includes songs that were cut from the original theatrical release....more info
- An Annual Event
Love this movie and this is a great version. Includes original numbers not on the VHS and never shown on TV. ...more info
- 1776-for American History
I find that this is one of the greatest moments in American history-The actors are so real that you feel as though you were actually there.
I really love the actors & the people that they portray-especially William Daniels as John Adams, Howard DaSilva as Ben Franklin & Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson.
A truly great movie!!! ...more info
- July 4th Set to Music
Although heavily panned at its original release and the film did not enjoy the same accolades as the Broadway musical, American History students may find 1776 an easy way to enjoy learing about the men and disagreements behind July 4th. I have used this movie for a college level History class. Most students find it an interesting way to see the founding fathers and the events that led to the declaration of American independence....more info
- 1776 Movie
The movie was worth the wait. It is quite accurate and depicts a moment in our history that is the foundation of our country. The acting is believable and takes you to the spot were this all happened.
Worth the money , it should be in your library
- Who knew history could be so fun?
This is a fun, sometimes irreverent look at our founding fathers and what it really took to declare our independence. We watch it every 4th of July!...more info
- Still holds up
I first saw this movie in 1976 when just about every television station ran it as part of their Bicentinnial celebration. More than 30 years later, the film still hold up as a very entertaining (if not always historically accurate) take on the birth of our nation. Seeing Howard Da Silva's Ben Franklin alone is worth the price of admission. The commentary provided by the director helps put the film in its 1992 context. So does the fact that the movie ends with a simple "The End" title instead of 20 minutes of credits....more info
- Fun and historical movie
I think this musical is a great mixture of history, humor and enjoyable music. The characters were well cast. William Daniels as John Adams is superb--okay, not the most melodious singer, but expressive and perfect for the part.
1776 is an excellent choice for viewing on patriotic holidays, especially July 4, of course.
My biggest objection to the movies? Using "Jesus" repeatedly as an exclamation. That is offensive and totally unnecessary....more info
- History Comes Alive
The first time I saw the musical 1776 on stage I was captivated with the characterizations, the music, and above all the powerful story. When they converted the play to film, I was afraid I would be disappointed, as I often am with so many Hollywood makeovers of great Broadway musicals. This has to be one of the rare exceptions. And it is exceptional. Outstanding performances by the leads who reprised their Broadway roles, especially William Daniels as the petulant and opinionated (or is it obnoxious and disliked?) John Adams, make this production as good as, maybe even better than, the original....more info