Hip hip hooray! Let’s hear it for the Fourth of July!
If you ask me, the Fourth of July–or anytime this summer–is a good time to take in a film—at home!
No long lines, no having to pay exorbitant prices for popcorn and candy. You can stay at home and avoid the heat, the crowds. After all, why bother seeing the latest blockbuster film when you know that next year there’ll be more where that one came from?
This summer, an oldie but goodie will hit the spot. It’s what I like to call “Retro Cinema.” After all, seeing films from days gone by can be quite trendy.
So, in honor of Independence Day, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite films about independence, and many of these have nothing WHATSOEVER to do with the Fourth of July. So, in no particular order:
Yankee Doodle Dandy: Ever hear the story of George M. Cohan? He’s the guy who wrote such famous ditties as, “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Over There” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.” If you’ve never heard of any of these songs I’d have to wonder, where have you been hiding? This is America at its finest! James Cagney, known for playing a mobster in many a film, gives an outstanding performance in the leading role, and not only does he sing, he dances. Who knew?
What is a celebration of Independence without acknowledging some very strong women who became staunchly independent themselves? Here are a few:
- An Unmarried Woman: Jill Clayburgh stars in this 1978 film about a wife who finds herself unmarried when her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Who ever heard of such a thing?? She spends the rest of the film finding herself and becoming stronger for it. I love films that give hope and this film pre-dated my own divorce by 17 years but became my inspiration when I needed it.
- Working Girl: Melanie Griffith proves she’s got the chops for female empowerment. Her boyfriend (played by Alec Baldwin) cheats on her (Is this a trend, I wonder?) but she never lets that get her down. She’s clever with a one-track mind: to rise to the top, professionally, whatever it takes. You can learn a lesson or two from Tess, her character’s name, I kid you not. After all, she may be pretty, but she’s got a mind that’ll leave men dead in their tracks. (And did I mention Harrison Ford’s in it, too??) Best quote:
“I’m not going to spend the rest of my life working my ass off and getting nowhere just because I followed rules that I had nothing to do with setting up.”
- Dirty Dancing: Before you say anything about “Dirty Dancing,” I have two words for you: Patrick Swayze. Honestly, he was so hot back in the day. Did you ever see him in the ABC miniseries, “North & South?” My friend, Pat, did and she knows what I’m talking about. Well, “Dirty Dancing” has them all beat. Look at him dance! And the boy can sing! Oh, and there’s a love story in there. Also, some serious women empowerment about not putting Baby in a corner. In fact, Baby conquers all when Patrick starts calling her by her real name. That’s Frances to you!
State Fair: For many, “The Sound of Music” is their favorite Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. But clearly, they haven’t seen “State Fair.” Americana at its finest. I mean, can any other country put on a state fair the way we do them in the U.S.? I may be corny but I love the 1962 Ann-Margret version best, but that version is nowhere to be found nowadays. So, watch the 1945 version and relive all the typical things folks do at a fair, like participating in a food-tasting contest and riding on the Ferris wheel, declaring “It’s a Grand Night for Singing!”
I Remember Mama: One of the best ways to celebrate the fact that we are a nation of immigrants—I don’t care what anyone else says. Watch this film, set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco about an extended Swedish family in America. A movie that moves tenderly, with heart and lots of love. By the way, for those of you TV/Movie buffs, the lead is played by Barbara Bel Geddes. You might remember her from a little TV show called, “Dallas,” where she played the role of Miss Ellie.
To Kill a Mockingbird: What can I say? A real American story about civil rights, race and justice. Set during a summer decades ago, the little kid visiting from out of town was inspired by Truman Capote who was good friends with the book’s author, Harper Lee. I love the theme song. Heck, I love everything about this film which reminds me of my own childhood even though it’s a long way between New York and Alabama, that’s for sure.
Jaws: A killer shark, a mayor that tries to play down the fact that there’s a shark terrorizing the whole town and some unsuspecting beach goers. We need a bigger boat, indeed. And did I mention that I played the mayor at last year’s Halloween? Guess what? We won!
Air Force One: All you need to know is Harrison Ford plays the president of the United States and, sigh, what I’d give to have him as president right now. He’s never been more handsome. For all you folks who like lots of thrills, this is a great, high-speed and suspenseful adventure aboard POTUS’ plane. OMG, talk about plane hopping!
Feel free to share your thoughts on any of these films. And by all means, please add to this list with some of your favorite films for Independence Day.
That’s it! Happy Fourth to all my friends in the U.S.!