Since TCM is airing a few Revolutionary War classics today, I thought I would compose a list of films that focus on colonial life:
DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939). A young couple fights off native attacks to start a farm in the Mohawk Valley. John Ford’s classic features Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert and Edna May Oliver (in her only surviving Technicolor film).
THE HOWARDS OF VIRGINIA (1940). Cary Grant plays a common man who joins Colonial forces in their fight for freedom against England. The twist: he meets his wife’s Royalist relatives on the battlefield.
THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946). American history is spoofed by Abbott & Costello in this offering. Two ghosts from the Revolutionary War haunt a house until they can clear their names of treason charges.
UNCONQUERED (1947). Colonial life DeMille style. An English convict girl sent to the colonies gets mixed up in the war with the natives. Paulette Goddard is the girl and Gary Cooper is her intended in this elaborate period piece from Paramount.
THE SCARLET COAT (1955). What do you get when you put Cornel Wilde and Anne Francis in a revolutionary tale with glossy MGM production values? This movie.
JOHNNY TREMAIN (1957). TCM just aired Walt Disney’s faithful adaptation of Esther Forbes’ Newbery Medal-winning children’s book. The plot concerns a young apprentice who finds himself befriended by the Sons of Liberty and caught up in events of the American Revolution. Hal Stalmaster stars in his one and only film.
JOHN PAUL JONES (1959). Robert Stack plays the title role. He’s the renowned hero of the Revolutionary War who clashes with Congress. Bette Davis appears in a cameo as Russian empress Catherine the Great.
THE DEVIL’S DISCIPLE (1959). A preacher and a rebel leader change places during the Revolution. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas star in this United Artists release with Laurence Olivier, based on George Bernard Shaw’s play. It’s airing today on TCM.
1776 (1972). Also airing on TCM today is the film version based on a Broadway hit musical about the founding fathers’ struggling to draft the Declaration of Independence. At the time of its release, critic Roger Ebert only gave it two stars, but I think it deserves 50 stars.
REVOLUTION (1985). Al Pacino is a fur trapper who becomes involved in the fight for freedom with his young son.
THE PATRIOT (2000). Mel Gibson is a colonial farmer who turns into a rebel leader after his son is murdered by the British. Gibson’s character is a composite, based on the lives of Continental Army officer Francis Marion, Andrew Pickens and other Revolutionary War figures.