Whether celebrating the heroes who fought for our country and our freedoms or those who have exposed corruption that have threatened the very foundation that our country was founded upon, “patriots” come in many forms and political slants. In addition to films covering those areas of interest, we're also spotlighting those who chase and achieve the American Dream with some good old American humor tossed in which allow us to laugh at ourselves, our leaders, and this great country we all call home.
For this 4th of July Weekend, here are 20 movies—of varying degrees of awesomeness and popularity—from the Warner Bros. Film Library that you might want to check out when you’re not slaving over the grill or watching the traditional firework extravaganzas lighting up the skies.
Sacrificing for America
After his Marine handler is killed in Afghanistan, this canine military hero returns stateside where he is adopted by his handler's family. A moving film for the whole family that's in theaters now.
The true story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is a powerful look at the sacrifices made by our military personnel and their families. Nominated for six Academy Awards, including "Best Picture" and "Best Actor" for Bradley Cooper's passionate performance as Kyle, American Sniper is an emotional roller coaster that had real-life military men and women saluting the screen in theaters around the world at the film's conclusion.
Al Pacino and Nastassja Kinski star in this tale of romance and war during America's Revolutionary War. At the time of its release, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed: "A thrilling vision of our country's birth pangs."
Clint Eastwood directed an all-star ensemble to tell the unforgettable story of the grueling World War II battle for the island of Iwo Jima which resulted in one of the war's most enduring images: a photograph of six U.S. Marines raising an American flag on the top of Mt. Suribachi. The tale of that photo is at the centerpiece of this engaging tale.
Winner of seven Academy Awards, including "Best Picture," this often heart-wrenching story tells the tale of three WWII vets who return home. Can these three men find the courage to rebuild their world? Or are the best years of their lives a thing of the past?
Celebrating the American Dream
This nonstop musical tour de force sings, dances and celebrates the life and career of a music man—George M. Cohan—who lifted a nation and became the first entertainer awarded the United States Congressional Medal of Honor for his contribution to morale. Winner of three Academy Awards, including "Best Actor" for James Cagney's memorable performance as Cohan. This classic American film is now available on Blu-ray for the first time, courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection.
Director Elia Kazan won the "Best Director" Golden Globe (and an Oscar nomination) and the film itself was nominated for "Best Picture" at both ceremonies. America America relates the saga of young Stavros (Stathis Giallelis), who leaves his war-torn homeland to begin a new life in the land of the free and encounters both allies and adversaries on his dramatic trek to America.
With one of the most amazing casts ever put together in one film, this eight-time Oscar nominated film (and winner of three) follows the westward expansion of America over a half-century as seen through the lives of four generations of brave pioneers. John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, James Stewart and Debbie Reynolds are just a few of the acting icons found here.
While How the West Was Won dealt with America expanding its frontiers to the untamed west, in this epic tale of American ingenuity and bravery, the move is skyward! Nominated for eight Academy Awards (winner of four), The Right Stuff follows the early days of the American space program in riveting detail and entertaining drama. Ed Harris, Barbara Hershey, Sam Shepard, Dennis Quaid and Fred Ward are among the perfect cast. Must-see entertainment for all Americans. Let's light this candle, flyboys!
Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wife and mother whose family has achieved the success of the American Dream, and who brings a homeless teenager into her family. While they help the future NFL star reach his personal potential, the family also finds insightful self-discoveries of their own. A remarkable true American story for the whole family.
Comedy American Style
Ivan Reitman's classic comedy that pokes fun at our government (and what's more American than that!) as a presidential look-a-like (Kevin Kline) finds himself in the ultimate seat of power and turns the tables on those who try to control him. The scenes of a small-time accountant (played by Charles Grodin) looking at the government's financial books will definitely make you laugh (or, more likely, cry).
Speaking of government money, this comedic satire of what happens when America goes broke takes shots at everyone of every political persuasion. The scary part is some of us could actually see this come to fruition, even if these 1979 filmmakers missed the mark a bit by placing the story in 1998.
More political humor, this time featuring Jack Lemmon and James Garner as former presidents who find themselves caught up in a scandal involving the sitting president (Dan Aykroyd). Maybe you have to look to films like this to see political opponents finding common ground for the common good of the country these days. We can dream, can't we?
Then again, you don't have to rely on politics for your comedy American style. What's more American than the family roadtrip? And no one ever gave us more laughs (at their expense) than the Griswolds, led by their tirelessly optimistic dad, Clark (Chevy Chase). And later this month be sure to check out the next Griswold generation—led this time by Clark’s grown-up son Rusty (Ed Helms) who takes his own family on a road trip to Walley World—when Vacation hits theaters on July 29.
What's so great about America is that you have the freedom to jump out of the proverbial rat race and follow your dreams, even if those dreams aren't the most realistic. Two yuppies—it was made in 1985, folks—decide to chuck it all and take their lives on the road. Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty star as the couple who end up hilariously Lost in America.
American Political Thrillers
Based on true events, this winner of three Academy Awards (including "Best Picture") chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis. CIA "exfiltration" specialist Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck, who also directed the film) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.
When government leaders get involved in corruption, it's often the Fourth Estate (the news media) that must alert the citizens to what's happening behind the walls of power. When it came to the Watergate Scandal of the 1970s, it was two young intrepid reporters at the Washington Post who kept the story alive with revelations which eventually led to the only resignation of a United States President. While there is a bit of artistic license found in this four-time Oscar winner, at its heart lies a drama that celebrates our freedom of the press.
Nominated for six Oscars (including "Best Picture"), Good Night, and Good Luck explores the real-life battle between TV newsman Edward R. Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s. Shot entirely in black-and-white, this is riveting drama at its best.
But if those real-life stories are too much for you, The Pelican Brief is a fictional thrill ride based on the bestselling John Grisham novel of the same name. Starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, the mystery revolves around the assassination of two Supreme Court justices, a law student who inadvertently solves the murders and is now a target of corrupt government leaders, and a newspaper reporter who is caught in the middle of it all.
Another fictional tale that demonstrates how absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that, at least in movies, the powerful can be brought to account in America. Director Clint Eastwood also stars as an accomplished jewel thief who witnesses a crime during a heist and finds himself the target of White House officials. The all-star cast includes Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Scott Glenn and Judy Davis. Can one man take down a president? Watch this sensational action-thriller to find out.