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"Ranking American Revolution movies and TV" Topic

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Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse06 Oct 2020 7:53 a.m. PST


I thought I would beat Tango to the punch with this one.
The reviewer has it mostly correct, separating historical accuracy from entertainment value. He knows his stuff.
He ranks some films high on entertainment value that has us accuracy snobs clutching our pearls in dismay. >*cough cough*< The Patriot. Yeah, I grudgingly admit. It's fun and silly.

We 18th Century fans do indeed have our Wrong Tank Syndrome moments. That would be uniform cut, facings, etc. "Turn" gets high marks for that.
I'll let everyone else argue with it.

Larry Gettysburg Soldiers Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2020 9:04 a.m. PST

Thanks for pointing to this well-written article. I thought the author was fair and balanced in his appraisal. Gotta admit "The Patriot" has boosted interest in AWI gaming, even with its flaws.

Does anyone know where one can view the Mary Silliman's War film?

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2020 9:24 a.m. PST

I must admit that I've never heard of the Mary Silliman's folm.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2020 10:19 a.m. PST

Good list (well, except for the turkeys at the bottom, especially Revolution, which, in common parlance, SUCKED).

My favorite is The Crossing, but the John Adams series was excellent.

Turn, however, turned on me with the absurd love subplot, a glaring distraction and an offensive slander on the actual persons involved; ditto for the treatment of Simcoe. The actor does his best (which is very good), but the part approaches a villainous caricature on par with the Tavington character in The Patriot. I tired of him, and thought he was unnecessary to the story of the spies anyway. I abandoned that series, and can't muster the interest to pick it back up.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2020 10:25 a.m. PST

Thanks for the "to do" list. grin

Turn and John Adams have been on my list for a long time, the The Crossing has been on my computer hard drive for years, but the only film here I've seen is The Patriot. I think I've run across some of these while flipping channels (I vaguely remember being surprised by Don Johnson in period garb), and a few others besides.

It is fascinating that a country which invented filmed dramatizations and so hugely invested in its own founding myths has so few filmed dramatizations of its own founding myths. The Western developed into an entire genre that got so big it splintered into multiple sub-genres, but the Revolution has hardly been touched. Hamilton very nearly amounts to a whole new art form.

- Ix

Pan Marek06 Oct 2020 10:41 a.m. PST

Excellent article. The only non-musical I think it missed is "The Scarlet Coat".
The list highlights just how few films/TV shows deal with the AWI.

I know they didn't consider musicals. But I think 1776 does a pretty good job of laying out the issues/personalities leading up to the Declaration. And my image of Franklin is indelibly influenced by Howard Da Silva's portrayal of him.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse06 Oct 2020 10:43 a.m. PST

I have a minor quibble. Or two. grin
He thinks that the Tommy Lee Jones character in April Morning died too soon. But, he died at that moment in the book.
The story is really about the boy growing up all of a sudden in one day. On that April Morning.
Howard Fast knew what he was doing.
And the reviewer catches the Socialist rhetoric in the other Fast film, The Crossing. I don't think Glover was that Red, or Pink either for that matter. But Washington DID swear! Accounts of Monmouth praise the accuracy and volume of his cussing. grin and he did tell Knox to "move your fat ass, Henry." The men loved it.

Like all such lists, its value lies in agreement or disagreement.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2020 11:51 a.m. PST

One that was left off was the old Disney TV movie "Johnny Tremain" link I recall watching it as a kid when it first came out in 1957. I don't remember much about it other than one of the songs -- "Liberty Tree" YouTube link


42flanker Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2020 12:16 p.m. PST

i) "Fat ARSE," surely?
ii) 'The Hector Heathcote Show'
iii) That is all

15th Hussar06 Oct 2020 2:45 p.m. PST

April Morning & The Crossing

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Oct 2020 2:52 p.m. PST

I like, and also missed, "The Red Coat." Beautiful in an MGM Technicolor way, with a lovely Anne Francis, and Michael Wilding (Mr. Elizabeth Taylor), and Cornell Wilde as the American Hero.

It's essentially a spy film mainly covering the Arnold/Andre affair, the former being, I think, well represented by actor Robert Douglas (who limps without explaining his wound, rather realistically).

In some ways, it's "James Bond Meets The Am Rev," but it has plenty of action (small scale) and treats Andre with sympathy and respect.

It was a odd oversight in a very entertaining piece.

Thanks again, John!


RudyNelson06 Oct 2020 3:14 p.m. PST

I really enjoyed the Bert Lancaster movie "The Devil's Disciple ". An entailing movie about the Saratoga campaign. I played a British soldier in the play version in 1976.
TV mini-series are better than TV shows.

Bill N06 Oct 2020 3:34 p.m. PST

The problem I have with rankings is that they imply an objectivity that isn't there. That we divide the rankings between Accuracy and Entertainment doesn't change this.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse06 Oct 2020 6:18 p.m. PST

Who needs objectivity?
I saw the Rolling Stone "Best 50 Guitar players of all time".
Guess what.
Chet Atkins
Glen Campbell
Roy Clark
Vince Gill
Brad Paisley
Marty Stuart
Ricky Skaggs

I forget if they included Les Paul, or Django Reinhardt.

My point, and I do have one, is that all "Best of…" lists are inherently biased.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse06 Oct 2020 6:20 p.m. PST

And I thought for years that Johnnie Tremaine had the cutest girlfriend ever.
That's enough to include it.
The "Sons of Liberty" song isn't bad either.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2020 4:07 a.m. PST

The mini-series on John Adams is excellent.

Not including musicals leaves out the excellent 1776 which gives faces, attitudes, and personality to the Founders.

I used it in US history class for both information and discussion. Generally speaking, the students liked it.

WarWizard Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2020 4:36 a.m. PST

I thought the worst scene in Patriot was when the British agreed to a prisoner exchange, without any evidence of what prisoners they were getting in exchange. That would never happen.

doc mcb07 Oct 2020 7:33 a.m. PST

I believe it was "shift your arse, Henry, and trim the boat."

REVOLUTION was actually quite good for its first half, in NYC and the Long Island battle. Then yes, it sucked.

And I agree that 1776 is excellent; I too use it in teaching, when there is time. I show "Molasses to Rum to Slaves" to every US class I teach. An ugly but powerful song on an ugly subject, and sets the stage for, e.g., Jefferson's analysis of slavery in NOTES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2020 8:02 a.m. PST

I thought the 'Devil's Disciple' was pure entertainment,
not at all historical but for the subject matter and
some of the costuming.

However, I'll watch it over and over for the clips of
miniatures being used to show Burgoyne's movements.

Bill N07 Oct 2020 9:04 a.m. PST

Sorry John but I am sticking with my assessment.

For the non-history fan the Los Angeles Times and New York Times were correct that John Adams was dull and overlong. It has nothing to do with twitter. A similar evaluation would have been made 25 years ago. The entertainment rating for John Adams is based on an audience that is likely to appreciate historical accuracy and telling a fuller story at the expense of traditional entertainment criteria. That same standard is not applied when determining the entertainment value of other movies.

As for Patriot I could easily have written "This is a melodrama seems to have been lifted from Wild West movies. Its appeal lies in watching Mel Gibson being Mel Gibson in the classic action movie tradition, rather than as a depiction of the Revolutionary War" (See Drums Along the Mohawk review). Is Mel Gibson worth 2 more points in entertainment value than Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert?

I don't know where to start with Turn/

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse07 Oct 2020 9:32 a.m. PST

Let's not forget that Stannis Baratheon played Thomas Jefferson. grin

To me, Turn was entertaining. It was like a dull boring Everyman was thrust into the role of a Master Spy.
Sim or was also a great Snidely Whiplash villain, despite the fact that he was nothing like that in real life.
Those who love it were disappointed that the War ended a season too early.

But we all look for different things. A friend says that if it has muskets and tricornes, he's good.

WillBGoode Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2020 11:51 a.m. PST

How about "Great Catherine?". Alright, not really American Revolution but have you seen a better recreation of the Battle of Bunker Hill?

YouTube link

Larry Gettysburg Soldiers Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2020 2:41 p.m. PST

And the the Award goes to WillBGoode, for best wargame scene on film EVER! Kudos for finding that unusual clip!

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP07 Oct 2020 3:20 p.m. PST

Well, it's clearly an unpopular opinion but as far as movies go, I've always liked Revolution and still do. For me it's got the best feel for the period and manages to avoid self-righteousness and sanctimoniousness which this particular period seems to attract.

I really enjoyed TURN also in spite of it's issues (minor really) and I think they likely nailed George Washington in a way I've not seen anyone else do.

John Adams is also in my collection and after several viewings over several years I'm wearying a little with the orchestration of set-piece congressional deliveries. Over time they are too obviously staged in parts and it wears thin with me. I still rate this extremely high … well, it's HBO so what does anyone expect?

For me, that's the big three. I think there is plenty of scope for more and better.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse07 Oct 2020 3:27 p.m. PST

And the the Award goes to WillBGoode, for best wargame scene on film EVER! Kudos for finding that unusual clip!

This explains why Catherine the Great did not "Hessian out" Russian forces to George III.
An impudent Captain of the 17th Light Dragoons shot her in the …. crinolines.
Lèse-majesté indeed.

I saw it many years ago.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse07 Oct 2020 6:14 p.m. PST

We occasionally yearn for movies that feature wargamers and the list is small. Usually we're shown as geeky nerds. Nobody could EVER call Great Catherine (Jeanne Moreau!), or Peter O'Toole geeky nerds.
I always list that one in those threads.

WillBGoode Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2020 2:14 a.m. PST

Glad you like it boys! (smile)

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP08 Oct 2020 6:51 a.m. PST

Bravo, WillBGoode! Bravo!

And it effectively conveys the horrors and losses in the battle.
O, those poor soldiers, blown to bits! The devastation to the landscape! The incalculable cost of materiel! The sinking of that beautiful ship! And the smudges on the nose! (Okay, we don't really mind the smudges on the nose…)

blwestern08 Oct 2020 2:26 p.m. PST

I always enjoyed the George Washington mini series with Barry Bostwick. That is what got me interested in the AWI. It may be dated, but I enjoy it.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Oct 2020 10:21 a.m. PST

I saw "Great Catherine" when it came out, and already being a miniatures fan--though not yet an active gamer--this scene destroyed me! Talk about schadenfreude! Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

The whole movie is magic--GBS, don't you know--and should be on every wargamer/history buff's shelf--but the damn thing has yet to appear on DVD (at least not in Italian). Don't believe the bad reviews--it's priceless!

Jeanne Moreau, Peter O'Toole, Zero Mostel (as Potemkin!), Akim Tamirof, Jack Hawkins, and more--can't beat it with a drum!


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