The top 10 Fourth of July events in movies

The top 10 Fourth of July events in movies (photo)

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The Fourth of July brought independence to the original thirteen colonies that went on to form the United States of America. But it also gave us countless holiday weekends for movie-going. Thanks to the Declaration of Independence telling the Kingdom of Great Britain to take a hike, Hollywood now has both a day to release movies and a day to stage iconic scenes.

From marching band performances to alien invasions, the Fourth of July has meant many things to many films, but the directors who know how to use it correctly have delivered some of the most indelible images of Americana to ever grace theaters. Here are ten of the most memorable Fourth of July events ever to take place in those films.

10. The big parade, “The Music Man” (1962)
It may not be normal to see a marching band with 76 trombones in a parade today. Back in 1912, however, when “The Music Man” takes place, playing the trombone must have been about as common as learning to drive. In the end, River City assembled one juggernaut of a trombone section for their parade, and thanks to their efforts, an instrument retailer somewhere became very, very rich.

9. The signing, “1776” (1972)
After finalizing the Declaration of Independence and singing their way through every step the founding fathers rip one last page off the calendar on their wall and make their treason against England official. There’s not much humor left in the room by the time they finish arguing about birds and receive a somber letter from George Washington, but despite one last disagreement over grammar, everyone in the room seems to be satisfied with their choice.

8. Holly Hunter does the splits, “Miss Firecracker” (1989)
Only in movies could Holly Hunter ever have been an underdog to win a beauty pageant, but she shambles her way through the talent competition with series of strange acrobatics, and the moment she does the splits on stage marks the defining moment of her performance. Her spunk alone set her apart from the competition, but she really sticks the ending.

7. The Overlook Hotel Ball, “The Shining” (1980)
Here’s a weird one, and we’re not going to use this list feature to tell you how to interpret the final scene in “The Shining.” However, the photograph that Jack appears in at the end of the film clearly shows a rollicking party taking place at the Overlook Hotel on July 4, 1921. Presumably, something pretty gruesome occurred after that photo was taken, but how you understand everything that took place before the movie is your business.

6. Baseball After Dark, “The Sandlot” (1993)
In case the rest of this film didn’t get the idea across to you that Benny was destined for baseball greatness, while his pals were just playing for the love of the game, director David M. Evans threw in this scene. In a display of wide-eyed cherubic patriotism, the boys all forget to field the ball and get weak in the knees watching their town’s fireworks display. Meanwhile, the ball rolls gently into the grass.

5. Ronnie watches the parade, “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989)
As a little kid in Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning classic, Tom Cruise’s character played with some seriously realistic-looking toy guns. He also attended a smoky small-town Fourth of July parade. The opening sequence for “Born on the Fourth of July” contains a few heavy, foreboding glimpses of the horrors of war, and it’s one of the most memorable depictions of the holiday in film.

4. Second Zodiac Killer attack, “Zodiac” (2007)
David Fincher gets his serial killer suspense ride off to a hot start as a young couple gets ambushed during a romantic lovers’ lane moment together in their car. From young victim Mike Mageau wearing too many shirts to the false alarm they experience when another vehicle drives by with some Independence Day explosives, the movie starts off at a simmer and bubbles over into a terrifying opening.

3. Shark Attack, “Jaws” (1975)
Despite ample evidence that a killer shark is on the loose, Mayor Larry Vaughn rolls the dice and leaves the Amity Island beach open to attract Fourth of July tourists. Predictably, this turns out to be a very bad choice, and a shark attack makes him quickly start to regret his decision. The rest is the stuff of summer blockbuster history.

2. Lou Gehrig’s Speech, “Pride of the Yankees” (1942)
Gary Cooper brought tears to the eyes of Yankee Stadium in his reenactment of baseball legend Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech. Cooper nails the monologue in his starring role, but the real piece of history in the background is none other than Babe Ruth looking on and playing himself. You don’t even have to be a Yankee fan to enjoy it.

1. The POTUS takes his stand, “Independence Day” (1996)
Bill Pullman made the Fourth of July the world’s holiday with a little help from a bullhorn in “Independence Day.” As Earth prepared to wave goodbye to its new hero Randy Quaid, the President of the United States revved up his troops to take down the ugly alien scum who had just blown up all of our landmarks. This is what watching a summer event movie on Fourth of July weekend is all about.

Did we miss one of your favorite scenes? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was written, produced, directed and narrated by Robert Evans. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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