1. Independence Day (the original)
This is THE quintessential Fourth of July movie. Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum lead a desperate assault against an invading alien force that threatens the total annihilation of mankind. The president of the United States personally flies a fighter jet in the attack against the alien invaders, to save Earth and liberate it from extraterrestrial occupation on July 4th. Cheesy, but fun, with special effects that still hold up, this one is a Fourth of July classic.
2. Rocky IV (or I)
Yes, the Rocky original IS THE BEST, but Rocky IV may be a better option on Fourth of July. There’s perhaps no better way to get your patriotic juice flowing than by watching American boxing hero Rocky Balboa seek revenge against the savage Soviet iron man Drago in the heart of Russia. Especially after Drago mercilessly kills Rocky’s friend, Apollo Creed, in the ring. “If he dies, he dies,” those words are still chilling.
3. John Adams (mini-series)
The HBO mini-series based on David McCullogh’s biography chronicles most of patriot turned president turned ambassador John Adams’ political life. The episodes focusing on the American Revolution and Adams’ role in the nation’s founding are particularly fascinating. Oh, and Tom Hanks produces it, so you know it’s good.
4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
A timeless classic that may be more relevant today than ever before (one wonders if every generation thinks that), in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Jimmy Stewart plays a junior senator who still believes in “lost causes” like liberty, justice, and the American spirit. Stewart’s character Jefferson Smith makes a valiant stand against the corrupt Senator Paine and the political machine of his home state, calling the U.S. Senate to hearken back to the principles of the American Founding, the ideals that led the United States declare independence from tyranny.
5. The Patriot
It doesn’t matter one’s opinion of Mel Gibson or even the movie, for that matter. If The Patriot isn’t on your Fourth of July watch-list, then something has gone HORRIBLY wrong. The story follows Benjamin Martin, a hero of the French and Indian War who renounces fighting forever, but is pulled reluctantly back into conflict during the American Revolution. Watching Martin and the rebels unite to fight for his family and a young nation’s freedom is always an inspiring choice for Independence Day.
6. The Sandlot
A true American classic, The Sandlot could serve as a comical reprieve from the endless Fourth of July war movies. This one’s just about a group of hilarious neighborhood boys playing baseball and getting into trouble. Laugh along with their adventures including treehouse sleepovers, battles with a rival baseball team, and, of course, their run-ins with The Beast. Plus, theirs an awesome Fourth of July scene:
You really can’t get any more Fourth of July-ish than a movie about the actual signing of the Declaration of Independence. The 1972 film version of the Broadway musical uses letters and memoirs from real participants in the American Revolution to make up large portions of its songs and spoken dialog.
You may be thinking – why is Jaws on the Fourth of July list? Well, for one, the film’s setting is Fourth of July weekend, and also, why not mix horror with your fireworks this year?
While many may not know about this film, Patton is widely praised and has a 95% score from Rotten Tomatoes. The film provides a compelling portrait of the only Allied general that the Nazis truly feared. “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his,” said Patton, a truly inspiring and volatile figure, and one of America’s greatest war heroes.
10. Captain America: The First Avenger
It goes without saying that Captain America is a solid patriotic choice for the Fourth of July. The first in the modern Marvel series especially drums up patriotism due to its World War II setting. Weak-bodied Steve Rogers undergoes experiment and is enhanced to maximum human potential. Before long, Rogers earns the title “Captain America” by using his new abilities to counter the evil Nazis and their HYDRA program.