Movies can set off fireworks too. Hollywood has long been impassioned with patriotism and has produced some serious flag-waving cinematic wizardry. A couple of Tinseltown heavies, Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, have specialized in making these types of films as each has two entries on our Movie Fanatic Top 10 Patriotic Movies. What will be number one?
10. The Patriot
Mel Gibson struck a chord with millions in this tale of the beginning of the American Revolution. There is no better reminder of why we declared our independence on July 4, 1776 than how Gibson and filmmakers portrayed the British menace robbing us of our divine right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
9. Glory The true story of the first African American military regiment in the Civil War is a stirring piece of cinema. Not only did it give Denzel Washington his first Academy Award, but also introduced a wider audience to the power that is Morgan Freeman. The film is a tribute to a time when the United States was torn apart at the seams and how the concept of freedom for all men and women will never fade from Glory.
8. Patton How can the true story of one of the country’s greatest war heroes not be patriotic? Heck, the film’s opening moments alone would qualify as General Patton makes a speech in front of a giant American flag. We salute you!
7. Red Dawn When Red Dawn arrived in 1984, America was embroiled in one seriously Cold War and Ronald Reagan was doing his best to bring down the Red Menace. What better way to stoke our patriotic fervor than a group of high school kids who band together and inspire a nation to fight back against the Soviet invaders? The film must have struck quite a chord as we’re getting a remake in 2012.
6. Born on the Fourth of July
Many a war film has stoked the fires of patriotism, but Born on the Fourth of July did it in a unique way. It showed one soldier, Ron Kovic, and his constitutional right to speak up against his government and the way they were handling the war in Vietnam. Not only did Tom Cruise (check out our Tom Cruise Top 10 Movies) score the best role of his career, but it fostered a discussion about free speech and the power one voice can have to alter public and government opinion.
5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
When our founding fathers established the framework of our government, Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith was exactly the type of representative they hoped would inhabit the Capitol’s halls. The average Joe citizen sent to Washington to make a difference is a story model often replicated in Hollywood, but rarely as powerful as it was told in Frank Capra’s 1939 film.
4. Independence Day
Can there be a more perfect movie for July 4 than the film that borrows that holiday’s moniker? Bill Pullman is not only our chief executive (who’s your favorite movie president?), but one who puts his war hero pedigree to use in fighting back against an alien invasion.
3. Top Gun
Top Gun scores on the patriotic meter for several reasons. Not the least of which is the number of times the American flag is featured, especially in slow motion with swelling music behind it! Cruise again stars in a patriotic flick, this time as a fighter pilot with a tad too much attitude.
2. Forrest Gump
Robert Zemeckis scored in his chronicle of modern American history through the eyes of Tom Hanks’ titular character. From the “innocence” of Elvis Presley’s 1950s through the divisive Vietnam War and then the Decade of Decadence that was the 1980s, this is one American journey that certainly makes us proud to be an American.
1. Saving Private Ryan
Tom Brokaw famously called those that lived during World War II “the greatest generation.” That heroic effort was chronicled in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan. All one needs to see is the opening scene: The D-Day invasion. That was one serious selfless act committed by a group of men who knew their ultimate sacrifice was more than likely on that fateful morning. Yet, they still stormed that beach, turned the tide of World War II and guaranteed freedom would survive.