21 Classic Movies for Independence Day

This is a list of movies which highlight the establishment or maintenance of freedom in the U.S. or which celebrate the nation in general.

War/ Military

1776  (1972) - This is a musical of the days leading up to July 4, 1776 and the American colonies' declaration of independence from the British Empire. It is based on a  play and stars William Daniels as John Adams, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson and Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin.

The Buccaneer (1958) -  Yul Brenner stars as Jean Lafitte, a hunted pirate who is a terror to the Gulf of Mexico. However, during the War of 1812, with the U.S. and the British Empire still sorting out their differences, each side wants to conscript Lafitte's help in establishing power on a vulnerable waterway. For whose side will the pirate fight?

Stars and Stripes Forever (1952) PosterThe Red Badge of Courage (1951) - A Union soldier (Audie Murphy) finds courage during the Civil War. This is an adaptation of a Stephen Crane novel.

Stars and Stripes Forever (1952) -  In this biopic set just before and during World War I, John Phillip Sousa (Clifton Webb), conductor of the U. S. Marine Corp Band, keeps morale high with memorable marches, including "Semper Fidelis." Robert Wagner and Debra Paget co-star.

Eagle Squadron (1942) -  Just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, American Chuck Brewer (Robert Stack) joins the British Royal Air Force.

I Was a Male War Bride (1949) -  Bureaucracy in the U.S. military after World War II is a source of humor in this film, as regulations threaten to keep a lieutenant (Ann Sheridan) and her French husband  (Cary Grant) apart.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) - Communists have brainwashed a former Korean War POW (Laurence Harvey) into becoming a political assassin. Will another former prisoner (Frank Sinatra)  be able to stop him and save the lives of high-ranking U. S. politicians?


George Washington Slept Here (1942) - Hilarious hijinks arise as a couple (Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan) renovate a farmhouse where George Washington is rumored to have slept during the American Revolution.

Magnificent Doll (1946) - A young lady (Ginger Rogers) of Washington, D.C. must choose between two men with high political aspirations: Aaron Burr (David Niven) and James Madison (Burgess Meredith).

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) PosterThe Monroe Doctrine (1939) - President James Monroe seeks to prevent Spain from establishing old strongholds in newly independent countries of South America.

The President's Lady (1953) - Andrew Jackson's (Charlton Heston) scandalous marriage to a divorcee (Susan Hayward) might cost him the presidency.

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) - Long before he was the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln (Henry Fonda) was a lawyer fighting for justice. This movie follows those early years.

Tennessee Johnson (1942) - Van Heflin stars as a man who would one day become the 17th U.S. President: Andrew Johnson.

Wilson (1944) PosterThe One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968) - Disney reunites Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson as star-crossed lovers whose families differ politically during a Presidential election: one side wants to reelect Grover Cleveland, the other Benjamin Harrison.

Fancy Pants (1950) - Arthur Tyler (Bob Hope) is an American actor pretending to be an English butler who is hired by a woman in New Mexico. Complications ensue when the town believes he's an earl and President Theodore Roosevelt pays a visit.

Wilson (1944) - Alexander Knox portrays the life of the 28th President of the United States.

Kisses for My President (1964) - In this comedy, Fred MacMurray plays the husband of the first female President of the United States (Polly Bergen).


Holiday Inn (1942) PosterMr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) - When a newly elected U.S. Senator (James Stewart) finds corruption in Congress, what will he do? It's a stirring David-and-Goliath story.

Holiday Inn (1942) -  Two friends (Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire) establish an inn that is open only on holidays. Astaire taps a rousing number with fire crackers for Independence Day.

The More the Merrier (1943) - Washington, D.C. is crowded during World War II. Joe (Joel McCrea), who is soon to be deployed, finds accomadations with a daffy landlady (Jean Arthur) and an older man (Charles Coburn) who enjoys playing cupid. This comedy manages to find humor in the sacrifices of U. S. military personnel and that of the people left behind.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) - In this comedy, World War II is over, but a shadowy regime remains and has come to the U.S. Will hapless, day-dreaming Walter be able to stop their plot?


  1. Great choices! I was happy to see "Fancy Pants" on your list.

  2. A clever idea for a Fourth of July classic movie post and you've included some great selections. Imagine a double-feature of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and HOLIDAY! Offbeat to say the least, but two great movies.


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"Java's Journey: A really fun, informative well-written blog that explores all of the things - and I mean all - I love about classic films."-- Flick Chick of A Person In The Dark Email: java-rush@hotmail.com


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