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Egbert Souse
Nov 6, 2008



Thanks to the recommendations of our friends in D&D, I was encouraged to check out the 1972 film adaptation of 1776. This was a successful Tony-award winning play first performed in 1969, written by Sherman Edwards (composer/musician) and Peter Stone (screenwriter of Charade and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3).





"Good God, consider yourselves fortunate that you have John Adams to abuse, for no sane man would tolerate it!"

The film starts off with John Adams frustrated over Congress taking up boring causes while ignoring his calls for independency. He and Ben Franklin then convince Richard Henry Lee to bring up the question so that it actually gets to debate. The main opponent is John Dickinson, who is an unabashed monarchist. Eventually, the need for an actual declaration comes up and Thomas Jefferson is recruited to draft it. Meanwhile, the British are ravaging parts of the colonies against the Colonial army led by General Washington.




This is a fairly boring plot summary and really, anyone who's been through American history classes in high school would be familiar with the gist. What makes 1776 special is that it's done as a musical play with a great sense of humor while telling a good history lesson. I'm actually unfamiliar with the original play and had only heard of the film in passing until it was glowingly recommended.



The cast is headlined by William Daniels as John Adams and Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin, with most of the rest of the cast being made up of the original Broadway cast (many never appeared in films after this apparently). It was also directed by the original production's director Peter H. Hunt and from a screenplay adapted by co-writer Peter Stone. Produced by Jack Warner (one of the original Warner Brothers) and shot by Harry Stradling, Jr. Other than some trims compared to the Broadway show (more on that later), it seems to be a faithful adaptation.



From what I've read, there were some last minute re-edits that resulted in about 30 minutes being trimmed, including one of the most popular songs allegedly under request by Nixon. In the 90s, there was a rough reconstruction produced for laserdisc that dropped in the footage from workprint reels. Columbia later worked with Hunt on a full director's cut in 2002 for DVD and later a revised, even more improved version in 4K in 2015 released on Blu-ray (and in 4K HDR in digital). Having only seen the director's cut, I can't imagine how anything could have been cut since it all works so well together. The Blu-ray even has an alternate "extended cut" that adds extra verses to two of the main songs.




One reason I've grown to love this film is that it's not just a fun history lesson, the songs are catchy, the performances are memorable, and it's so well made. Granted that this has gone through some editorial changes over the years, but it packs at lot into a little under three hours. The camera work is incredible, often breaking the 180 degree "rule" and with some lovely lighting work. It's also incredibly sweaty and horny (it's inferred Jefferson couldn't get sufficient inspiration until after he made love to his wife).




The caps in this post are from the Sony Blu-ray (which is only $15 right now). It's also on all the usual digital platforms, with a 4K HDR version that reportedly looks even greater than the Blu-ray.

I'm curious to know who else is a fan of this film and wouldn't mind some input on it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neXdVJNZRg0

Fran edit: Previous Movies of the Month
The 2005 movie of the month thread for 1776 (may need archives)

Somebody fucked around with this message at 11:36 on Jul 8, 2020

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citybeatnik
Mar 1, 2013

You Are All
WEIRDOS





It's a fun as hell movie i'll give it that much - i've watched it every July 4th for the last several years. I vaguely recall there being some behind the scenes issues that for the life of me i can't remember and will probably have to look up.

Also the song about the triangle trade is great.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Is this the first repeat MotM? (Looks like 1776 was the fourth ever!)

Also, alerting Fran, this thread should be stickied.

Zogo
Jul 29, 2003



I remember this one being very entertaining. And it had good intellectual humor as well.

TrixRabbi posted:

Is this the first repeat MotM? (Looks like 1776 was the fourth ever!)

Vampyr was the 41st and 138th MotM.

Kull the Conqueror
Apr 8, 2006



Didn't even know this was MOTM and wound up watching it on the 4th anyway. It's so delightful, but doesn't just sing away the gravity of the subject. "Momma Look Sharp" is a devastating song about the toll of war, "Molasses to Rum" is condemns everybody in the room for being complicit in the slave trade, and "Cool, Cool Considerate Men" is a majestic takedown of the whole money-go-round of American politics. I think its being written in the late 60s was a perfect climate for its subversion of American myth.

If you're in need of a hot take, I think it's better than Hamilton in every way that matters.

Drunkboxer
Jun 30, 2007


I've always liked this movie but I think it's front loaded with all the catchiest songs. Like Sit Down John, The Lees of ol Virginia and Mr. Adams are all in act 1. I like that Rum, Molasses and Slaves gets real with you but I always felt that act 2 really slows everything down in general. Then again maybe there's just more John Adams in the first act and William Daniels' performance is my favorite part of the whole thing.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013


If it wasn't for disappointment,
I wouldn't have any appointment.





Grimey Drawer

This is currently available on PlutoTV On Demand for free.

TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



The OP from the 2005 MotM thread is a throwback in just about every imaginable way.

Franchescanado
Feb 23, 2013


If it wasn't for disappointment,
I wouldn't have any appointment.





Grimey Drawer

TrixRabbi posted:

The OP from the 2005 MotM thread is a throwback in just about every imaginable way.

Oh, because it got to a second page?

Basebf555
Feb 29, 2008

The greatest sensual pleasure there is is to know the desires of another!



Fun Shoe

I watched 1776 this weekend and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's the kind of musical I can handle because the production values are very very high, and the balance of songs to regular dialogue made it very watchable for me.

Debbie Does Dagon
Jul 8, 2005





I'd love to watch this with a commentary track of several historians talking over eachother. It was also nice to hear Mr Feeny singing about Thomas Jefferson getting laid.

F_Shit_Fitzgerald
Feb 2, 2017





Fun Shoe

When I first caught this on TCM a few summers ago, I actually didn't care for most of the songs because I thought they were too wordy. But they've grown on me to the point that I actually purchased the original soundtrack.

I know the history isn't 100% there, but I really appreciate the fact that this movie is a clear-eyed view of the founding and the founders. "Momma, Look Sharp" has been mentioned but I always thought that "Molasses To Rum" was a devastating song because it takes a lot of the piss out of the north being smug about the slave trade (I'm not from a northern state but this song is a showstopper for me).

One of my favorite movies.

GoutPatrol
Oct 17, 2009

Coal Jobs for the Coal God


Nap Ghost

One of my absolute favorite musicals, and an excellent adaptation. I was lucky enough as a kid to see the Broadway revival in the 90s.

I also agree I would have no idea how in the original cut of the film they cut out "Cool, Cool Considerate Men."

Davros1
Jul 19, 2007

You've got to admit, you are kind of implausible




Debbie Does Dagon posted:

I'd love to watch this with a commentary track of several historians talking over eachother. It was also nice to hear Mr FeenyK.I.T.T. singing about Thomas Jefferson getting laid.

Child of the 80s here


edit: Kind of surprised that after the popularity of "Hamilton", NBC or Fox didn't try to stage a "1776: Live!" broadcast

Davros1 fucked around with this message at 20:45 on Jul 14, 2020

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TrixRabbi
Aug 20, 2010

Time for a little robot chauvinism!



Davros1 posted:

Child of the 80s here


edit: Kind of surprised that after the popularity of "Hamilton", NBC or Fox didn't try to stage a "1776: Live!" broadcast

I've never seen the movie but I did see a stage production of 1776 last year that did a gender/race bending cast. John Adams was played by a white man, but then you had a female Ben Franklin, a black woman as John Hancock, a male Martha Jefferson (and twink Thomas Jefferson), etc. So Hamilton has def led to some re-envisioning of this play, just not on film yet.

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