1776

1972 | Musical | 140 minutes | English

Info

While the Revolutionary War against  England rages, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia is still debating the question of American independence. The leader of the independence faction is the abrasive John Adams of Massachusetts. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania leads the opposition hoping for  reconciliation with England. John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, holds the position that the vote must be unanimous. All finally agree but Adams and Benjamin Franklin push for a postponement until a declaration describing their grievances can be written. Because of his superior writing skills, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia is assigned to write this declaration. Jefferson submits the declaration but the Southern delegates threaten a walk out unless the clause opposing slavery is deleted. The members agree  Jefferson should decide. Jefferson removes the clause outlawing slavery.  What’s more important to Jefferson is to move ahead with the vote for independence and the formation of the nation. After much heated debate, shouting and cajoling, the vote for approval is unanimous. The Declaration of Independence is signed and John Hancock is the first to affix his signature. The date is July 4, 1776. Songs by Sherman Edwards, Book by Peter H.Hunt.

Cast
William Daniels  (John Adams) / Howard Da Silva (Benjamin Franklin) / Ken Howard (Thomas Jefferson) / Donald Madden (John Dickinson) / David Ford (John Hancock)
Why Stream This Film?
When I first heard about a Broadway musical being produced on the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence,  I thought it was a joke. The Broadway production became a huge success. Although some film critics were not enamored  of the film adaptation, ignore them. This is a joyous, uplifting, and wonderful film about the formation of our country. Every household (especially those with children) should see this film at least once a year. How about the July 4th weekend?    
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 69%
Accolades
  • Golden Globe Awards: Nominated, Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy; Best Cinematography (Harry Stradling, Jr.)
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Cinematography (Harry Stradling, Jr.)
  • National Board of Review: Listed, Top Ten Best Films of the Year

 

It’s difficult to explain why 1776 is such a great movie. It’s a terrific story, one that both I and many of my close friends ritualistically watch every 4th of July. 1776 brings to life the vibrant personalities that helped form America. Like all good history, it forces audiences to see important figures from the past as flesh-and-blood human beings rather than stodgy icons.The political struggles that took place centuries ago feel as fresh and immediate as the political struggles today.
Matthew Rozsa

SALON.com

The  struggle for independence from Britain at the first Continental Congress provides the framework for this unique musical. Almost all of the original Broadway cast remain, with Daniels as John Adams and Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin leading the pack.

Leonard Maltin's MOVIE GUIDE

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