Sunday, July 03, 2011

Americana Patriotic Fuzzy Wuzzy Movies Part I

So, for the 4th of July, being the proud American Conservative that I am, I usually do something kinda fun and/or serious for the Independence Day weekend, as I try to remember what this holiday weekend is all about... sacrifice, determination, and the birth of a nation.

But this year, I thought of something a little different... The Movie Angle.  I decided to do a Top Ten American Films... now that doesn't mean "Made in America", necessarily... it means, Top Ten Films About American, or Americana... movies that make you feel good, movies that make you proud to be in this country, movies that just give you a great feeling about who we are, and that this is in fact that greatest country in the history of the entire world, nay universe. 

And that quite simply defines the qualifications of this list of movies... its about American, its about the American dream, its about Americana... and its not depressing or too serious.  That means that "Saving Private Ryan", "Glory" and "United 93", which are all amazing movies, were not considered for this list, because... well, though they are about this bravery of this country and its history, they leave you feeling a little sad and quiet.   And let's be real--its the holiday weekend, no one wants to be sad. 

Movies that didn't make my list, but must be mentioned as "Honorable Mentions"... "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939), not listed because its been so long since I've seen it, I can't remember it enough to honestly talk about it... "Coming to America" (1988), one of Eddie Murphy's finest, and a great story about the success that anyone can have... "Rocky" (1977), because while a great film, man is it slow... "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), another great film, but still a little depressing with all the death and destruction--great for a guy movie, but not necessarily a Top Ten Americana Film.

Alright, now that we have gotten this part down, let's get to the first five... now, these aren't listed from my tenth favorite to my favorite film, as in, my #1 or #2 might actually be ranked lower on my overall The Dave 100 favorite films list--but these are films ranked in "Most American Dream/Spirit/History/Cana"...

Who else can name anothe Paul LeMat movie?  I can!  I thought he
was cool back in the day.  Cindy Williams went on to do "Laverne and
Shirley", while we all know Opie Cunningham's success
I saw this film when I was a kid, and loved it then, and seeing it as an adult, I love it even more.  This movie actually spent a little time in my Top Five Films Ever... now, it currently ranks as my 15th favorite film of all time.

This is very character driven, taking place overnight, following the high school graduation of friends Curt (and his search for the mysterious blonde in the T-Bird)... Steve, and his chick Laurie... John Milner, who becomes an accidental baby sitter... and Terry "The Toad", who just wants to get some alcohol to impress a girl.

You know how DieHard started a trend with other movies being described as "DieHard on a boat!" or "DieHard on a bus!"... well, "American Graffiti" became known as a phrase to describe a film that features a bunch of young stars who would go on to be a famous... this one featured Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfus, Suzanne Somers, Paul LeMat, Charles Martin Smith... all actors who are either still famous, or enjoyed much success for at least the next few decades.  And of course, a very young Harrison Ford in a drag race. 

Wanted to give something for everyone on this list, and that includes the token musical... I love this movie.  No, seriously, I really do love this film.  Judy Garland was at her young adult peak, and is simply magnificent in this movie.

Set against the backdrop of the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, it follows a season or two in the life of the Smith family, including Mr and Mrs. Smith, and their children Rose, Esther (Garland), Agnes, Tootie and Lon Jr, the only boy.   They live, they share romance, like Esther's romance with the boy next door, and Rose's expectations of a proposal from her boo.

What can I say?  I love this song.

Seasons pass, first summer, than Halloween, then onto Christmas where you hear the immortal "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"... by the way, we sing that now as a fun Christmas song, but in the context of this movie, holy crap is this song sad.

But what's not sad?  "The Trolley Song", sung on the trolley as Esther awaits the arrival of her man, John.  I dare you to not feel at least a little happy when this scene takes place, one of my favorite musical scenes of all time.  Bang bang bang goes the trolley... clang clang clang goes the bell...

Dave Kovic works at a D.C. area temp agency, and makes a side living by impersonating the president at car lots and business openings and so on.  So, when the president becomes incapacitated in a most embarrassing fashion (which includes Laura Linney, who I just adore), Secret Service Agent Duane Stevenson (played by a young Ving Rhames) shows up to ask... or tell... Dave that he now gets to portray the president.

And portray he does, figuring it out as he goes along, trying to use common sense to solve the issues that we see unsolved and wonder why that's so.  All the while, he's battling Chief of Staff Bob Alexander (Frank Langella), who is trying to use Dave as his own puppet to get stuff done and further his political aspirations. 

I think this movie led me to be a Democrat in high school and early college, with the belief that the government can pretty much do anything!  When Dave steps up and says, "I want everyone to find a job, and the government will make that it's job to do so!" 17 year old me was like, "Yeah!  That's awesome!"

I've since wised up, but still look upon this movie as a gem, an idealistic image of what our country could be if we just worked together to make it happen... and if the government could be trusted.  My 38th favorite movie of all time.

Benjamin Martin (l) and Tavington (r) square off
Well, you have to have an actual Revolutionary War film on this list, don't ya?  I actually have two, but we'll get to that later...

Mel Gibson was in his prime in the late 90s and early 2000s, well after Lethal Weapon movies had come and gone, but before he reached his pinnacle in "Passion of the Christ" (and then subsequent fall of the cliff of relevance due to recent year's activities), and it was in 2000 that "The Patriot" came out.  I remember seeing this movie with Mikey and Shawn and the biggest America lover of 'em all, The Honorable Revr'n Ty Sharpton Coffey, who I literally thought would walk out of the theater, find someone with a British accent and punch them in the face. 

This is a rather silly movie, if you think about it, but nonetheless, its entertaining... it tells the the story of a peaceful American farmer who is swept into the  Revolutionary War when his family is threatened.   Mel plays Benjamin Martin, who is loosely based on real Continental Army officer Francis Marion, along with other Revolutionary War figures.

The real pleasure of this movie is Jason Isaacs, however, a few years before playing Harry Potter baddie Lucious Malfoy. Jason, with his platinum blonde hair, menacing eyes and crazy creepy voice, is Col. William Tavington, and is ruthless, bloodthirsty, and promises the English Army leader Lord Cornwallis that he will capture Benjamin, but "if I do this... I won't be able to ever return to England..."

Of course, there are battle scenes, and violence and a heartbreaking moment when a church burns with everyone inside, but overall it, its engaging and worth a watch.  And yes, you might want to punch a Brit when its all over. 

"Okay, so you go here, and you there, you'll be over here and..."
If I gave you a short list of events that I wish I could go back in time and tell my Past Self to attend, that list would include the Miracle on Ice in New York, even though at the time my Past Self was only five.  I guess my Now Self would have to convince my Then Parents to take my Past Self.

Either way, that event was monumental in sports history, and this movie tells the story of the American achievement here, namely, their victory over the Soviets.   Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) takes the job as coach, then begins to form the dysfunctional team into a solid team, which includes the famous "Again" scene on the ice following a tie with Norway.. I won't spoil it for you, but its goose pimple inducing.

Of course, you know that the Americans beat the Russians in a semi-final game (it wasn't the gold medal game, contrary to popular belief) and went on to defeat Finland for the gold, but this movie is all about the journey, the struggle and yes, will make you ultimately proud to be an American.  Where at least you know you are free.  And you won't forget the men who died who gave... sorry.  Habit.

TOMORROW, on July 4th... Americana Patriotic Fuzzy Wuzzy Movies Part II, my picks for the five best Americana Patriotic Fuzzy Wuzzy Movies ever... including baseball, lost artifacts, aliens, airplanes and history!

The Summer of Blogging Day Thirty

No comments:

Post a Comment

I want to hear your response! Click here!!