Friday, July 4, 2014

Flick Pick: 1776

(Columbia, 1972)

All totaled, there are nine pictures on this last that are or could be considered musicals. I'm not a fan of them per se unless they're flat out good. So the ones I've picked are all purely enjoyable to watch, and this one is no exception.
Historically, it's cobbled together from all sorts of writings and sources from much later to serve the purpose of the show, which is the whole point: it's not intended as a pure documentary, it was a film version of a hit Broadway show, utilizing most of the same cast. (In reality, the Second Continental Congress met in secret, because it was essentially treason, and there are no actual minutes of the debates as such.) Critics did everything they could to savage it, it pretty much flopped at the box office, and the Bicentennial came and went.
And then VCRs came out, and audiences pretty universally liked it and realized the critics were full of crap.
William Daniels and Howard DaSilva have more fun doing Adams and Franklin together than one has a right to expect. (Why nobody decided to bootstrap their roles into a pair of one-man shows, or even a two-man show subsequently is a mystery for the ages. Either and both would have been fantastic.) And Blythe Danner's onscreen appearance shows that her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow is but a pale imitation of the original.
Ultimately, it was the only gasp by Hollywood to try and show the country's founding in any sort of light that wasn't tainted by the recycled hippies who lurched into Hollywood ever since, nor fuelled by revisionist and reflexively anti-American bilge. If you do no more than flick the fast-forward past every musical number and watch only the dramatic scenes, you're still left with a pretty good and watchable film.
When the legend is a much better story than the unrecorded facts, watch the legend.
In this case, bring popcorn. Happy Fourth of July.

No comments: