Here at Radio Times we love an epic battle scene, and although we won’t be shooting off fireworks for America’s Day of Independence, there’s no reason not to embrace the spirit of patriotism. So grab a hot dog, some apple pie, and one of these films to make your Fourth of July that much cooler.
With a hefty seven Oscars, Patton is one of the most impressive war films of all time. Written by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H North, the film showcases American General Patton of the US Army and his dedication to his country during the Second World War. While the war scenes are dreadfully spectacular, George C Scott’s riveting performance as the General is what will inspire you to take on the world regardless of where you are from.
This action film directed by Jerry Bruckheimer brings a dramatic twist on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, sure to rouse even the least patriotic. The film looks at the emotional sinking of battleships USS Arizona and USS Oklahoma and highlights the sacrifices made by the United States Army Air Corps. Starring an ensemble of notable cast members including Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, this American fighting film ends with US Navy cook Doris “Dorie” Miller becoming the first African American to be awarded the Navy Cross.
There’s no denying that life is like a box of chocolates…especially after watching Tom Hanks play Forest Gump. Gump is semi-literate, but that doesn’t stop him going to college, meeting the President, joining the US Army and falling in love – all during the Vietnam War era. Director Robert Zemeckis’s uncanny ability to capture a very normal person’s existence and the extraordinary things he can accomplish helped win the film its six Oscars.
Forget Rambo - if it's patriotism you want, you're best off with Chuck Norris at his jingoistic best in Invasion USA. Pitting the bearded ass-kicker against an entire army of 'Filthy Commies' hell-bent on running riot throughout Uncle Sam's heartland (well, the suburbs of Florida, at any rate), Invasion was either first-rate Cold War-era propaganda or bullet-pumping wish-fulfilment for arrested (American) adolescents everywhere. "America wasn't ready...but he was!" screamed the poster. Thank goodness for that.
Join grumpy South Carolina plantation owner Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) in the year 1776. Although he wants nothing to do with America’s war for independence, it becomes unavoidable when his sons, played by Heath Ledger and Gregory Smith, are eager as ever to fight for their country. Benjamin is forced to make some choices on where his loyalties lie when both his country and his family start to fall apart.
Tom Cruise turned fighter pilot in this 1986 American classic as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell – a rebellious pilot accepted into the air combat training programme at a US Naval station. Rocking the aviators and dog tags for all it’s worth, Cruise became an overnight sensation, serenading his instructor (Kelly McGillis) with his rendition of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling before romancing her to the tune of smash hit Take My Breath Away. The US Navy has never looked so appealing…
Who knew aliens had such good timing? After travelling millions of miles to reach Earth, the extra-terrestrial forces arrive just in time to spoil the Fourth of July party. Will Smith stars as Captain Steven Hiller, charged with fronting America’s defence against alien intrusion, but it’s Bill Pullman who steals the show as President Thomas J. Whitmore with his rousing speech in the face of adversity: “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our independence day!” Boom.
Born on the Fourth of July
Directed by war veteran Oliver Stone, this film was never going to be lacking in the patriotism stakes. Adapted from Ron Kovic’s Vietnam War memoirs, Tom Cruise takes centre stage portraying the appalling rehab treatment the former soldier received after he was paralyzed by a gunshot wound. Kovic’s transformation from eager young recruit to vocal anti-war campaigner culminated in his famed speech delivered during the 1976 Democratic national convention, earning Cruise an Oscar nomination.
Saving Private Ryan
With Steven Spielberg listed as director you know you’re onto a winner and this action adventure is no exception. Tom Hanks and Matt Damon spearhead a talented cast depicting a group of US soldiers during the WWII Normandy invasion. The story of their gritty determination and personal sacrifices (not to mention an American victory) combine to make this film an unmissable Fourth of July treat.
It doesn’t automatically spring to mind when you think of American pride but Rocky IV – with its inventive use of the American flag – will soon have you humming The Star Spangled Banner. In the beefy boxer’s fourth outing, he avenges the death of prodigy Apollo Creed by kicking communism into touch – on this occasion in the form of superstar Soviet boxer, Ivan Drago. Balboa takes patriotism one step further, fashioning the stars and stripes into his boxing shorts to take on his Russian nemesis.