1776 1972


Action / Drama / Family / History / Musical

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 85%
IMDb Rating 7.6


The film version of the Broadway musical comedy of the same name. In the days leading up to July 4, 1776, Continental Congressmen John Adams and Benjamin Franklin coerce Thomas Jefferson into writing the Declaration of Independence as a delaying tactic as they try to persuade the American colonies to support a resolution on independence. As George Washington sends depressing messages describing one military disaster after another, the businessmen, landowners and slave holders in Congress all stand in the way of the Declaration, and a single "nay" vote will forever end the question of independence. Large portions of spoken and sung dialog are taken directly from the letters and memoirs of the actual participants.

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Downloaded 24607 times
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Blythe Danner as Martha Jefferson
William Daniels as John Adams
Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson
John Cullum as Edward Rutledge
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.03 GB
24 fps
2h 21m
P/S 2 / 0
2.28 GB
24 fps
2h 21m
P/S 0 / 6

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by kenbarr-ny 9 / 10

Witty and Humanizing

I have seen "1776" both on Broadway and on the screen as well as having acted in it as an amateur. The piece humanizes people we often look upon as flawless icons. Well, they did have flaws. The North's hands were stained with the blood of slavery as well as the South's. Delegates sometimes tended to represent their colony's interests over those of the collective group's. Today we fail to realize that independence from the mother country had never been successfully accomplished. If some had reservations, they had good reason. "1776" brings this out. In the song "Molasses to Rum to Slaves", South Carolina delegate Rutledge (John Cullum) reveals the complicity of New England in the triangle trade. In his showstopper "Is Anybody There?", John Adams (William Daniels) encapsulates the conflict between delegates while expressing his vision of a nation where all are free. Based on Adams' own writings, this song resonates long after the final scene.

The wittiness of this piece also endears it. One scene is particularly noteworthy, for it lampoons the New York Legislature with uncanny accuracy. Space forbids me to elaborate but any New Yorker, or anyone else frustrated with politicians, will enjoy it.

Although based on historical facts, "1776" entertains and helps us understand the real people to helped bring forth "..a new nation, conceived in liberty..."

Reviewed by jsk32870 6 / 10

A little disappointing

Being a fan of history in general, and American history in particular, I fully expected to love this film. Unfortunately, for me at least, there are several troublesome factors here that take this one down a few pegs.

The history itself is seriously spotty. Too many to list, but for one, Adams and Franklin were NOT buddies, so to see them cavorting side-by-side was an odd sight indeed. It is well known Adams despised Franklin (he despised a lot of people actually). There are many minor/trivial oddities here as well - things like Martha Jefferson showing up in Philadelphia (she did not); Jefferson writing the Declaration as we know it today (in truth much of the wording was altered by the Committee); Cesar Rodney shown here on his deathbed (he lived for 8 more years); Franklin saying he founded the first abolition society in the new world (he did not). I can go on, you get the point. I don't find all of these inaccuracies to be a 'big deal' - however when I read other reviewers here refer to this film as a 'great history lesson' - well, now it becomes one. Because the reality is, like many films, '1776' is NOT a history lesson and should not be viewed as such. It is a play set in a historical place and time, but as with many other films and plays, a heavy dose of dramatic license has been applied here and that needs to be understood.

That in itself wouldn't be too bad. However, there are a few more issues....for a musical with something like 15 songs, an alarming number of them aren't particularly good or catchy or noteworthy. There are a few good ones, yes, but only a few. I am hard-pressed to name a musical that has less memorable music than this one. If I were to watch this again (something I'd probably not do as I now contemplate it), I would definitely fast-forward over some of the lesser songs. That is not a good thing for a musical, needless to say.

Speaking of fast-forwarding, another reason I'd do it is that at nearly three hours, the film is just too darn long for its own good. I am not against lengthy films, but generally longer films are usually associated with epic story-telling on a grand scale. There is nothing grandiose with 1776, virtually the entire film is set in the Congress chamber (not surprising as this was adapted from a play). With several sub-standard musical numbers here, though, it makes the film a chore to sit through for that long. Jack Warner was right to cut this film in 1972, that version is probably more palatable than the director's cut.

Some of the humor in this was excellent, probably the best part of the film. While the Adams character was the main protagonist, Franklin was by far the funniest. And I will say I was surprised at the frequency of sexual innuendos in the film. Not a bad thing, as I mentioned some of the puns were quite funny, but not something for 'the kids' to watch I'd say, if they managed to understand (Franklin's line that 'at my age the pen is mightier than the sword' comes to mind).

Overall, not terrible but not great. I don't think I'd watch this again, but if I did I'd skip maybe 8 of the songs. That speaks volumes, and what it says isn't especially complimentary. If this were to be redone with new and better songs it would make it more deserving of the 'classic' moniker some strive to give it now. In its current form it's a tad lacking. 6/10.

Reviewed by fshepinc 10 / 10

A Classic That Has Withstood the Test of Time

When it was first released, the film was not a box office success. To be fair, though, the studio butchered the film after its debut -cutting more than 40 minutes, including one complete song and parts of several others. Based on the award-winning musical play, 1776 is one of the best-written musicals of all time. Watching the restored director's cut is an entirely different experience from what most people saw in their movie theater.

The script humanizes and characterizes the founding fathers in a way never seen before, and seldom seen since. Much of the dialogue is taken directly from the letters and speeches of the characters (written before, during, and after the revolution). There are a few historical inaccuracies and embellishments, but the film by and large tells the true, and often unknown, story of how the Declaration of Independence came to be written.

The score, by former history teacher and sometime-popular-songwriter Sherman Edwards is delightful. Contrary to some of the reviews posted here, there are several stand-out songs, including "Yours, Yours, Yours", "He Plays the Violin", and "Momma, Look Sharp". The score and orchestrations evoke the musical styles of the period, and provide a lot of the film's humor. 1776 holds an odd record in the theater world: the longest space of time between musical numbers (over 30 minutes). Some critics have suggested that the show should have been a straight play, rather than a musical, but the songs serve to lighten the mood and energize the storytelling, It would be a lesser show if they were -as evidenced by the very different audience reaction to the highly-edited release version where much of the music was cut. Sadly, the film's soundtrack album was horribly botched, with heavy reverb added to the mix, and has never been available on CD or in digital format. An expanded, remastered release is possible with the remaining sound elements, but not deemed commercial enough to warrant the expense.

The cast is uniformly excellent, drawn almost entirely from the original and later Broadway and touring casts of the long-running hit. This is one of the very few times Hollywood allowed most of the principal cast of a Broadway show to preserve their performances on film. William Daniels owns the role of John Adams as few actors have ever owned a role. His scenes with Virginia Vestoff (Abigail Adams) are among the most beautiful and touching ever filmed. Howard DaSilva's Ben Franklin provides a great deal of common sense along with the comedy. He nearly wasn't allowed to do the film, but we are fortunate that he finally got to preserve his wonderful performance. (He had a mild heart attack during the Broadway previews and missed the opening night. Contractually, his understudy, Rex Everhart, got to record the original cast album, while DaSilva actually performed the role during the Broadway run.

It is amazing that the film was ever made. 1776 was a virtually all-male musical (there are only two female roles) about history and politics, made at a time when traditional musical films were box-office poison. It had no big names, and no popular song hits. Jack L. Warner is often excoriated for cutting "Cool, Considerate Men", when really he should be lauded for preserving a classic American musical in what must be considered the most faithful film adaptation ever made.

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