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. Written by
Dave Heston <heston@iName.com>
The theatrical version has no credits at the beginning other than "Columbia Pictures presents" and the film's title. The Director's Cut and the extended laserdisc edition includes a main title sequence at the opening. See more »
Sherman Edwards was a modest teacher of history when he got the idea of creating a musical telling of the tale of the birth of the United States. As it turned out, even though the story of the Declaration of Independence was one most every American schoolchild knew, there was a lot more to it than the signing of a paper and the ringing of a bell.
The Broadway version of "1776" became a sensation with audiences and went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical of 1969.
During this era of film-making, the musical was still considered to be a draw for audiences, so it was natural to take this show and bring it to the big screen. And best of all, John Warner brought the bulk of the cast from the show to the film. William Daniels IS John Adams to a lot of people, and his portrayal of the feisty proponent for independence is one of the great performances of any "real life" character. Daniels is equaled by his fellow Congressional cohorts, Ken Howard as the author of the document, Thomas Jefferson, and the amazing Howard Da Silva as the good doctor, Benjamin Franklin.
To me, the most remarkable element is the facts of the story are pretty much accurate, the timing of the events, measured with a wall calendar, keeps the tension going as we count down to that particular date... July 1st, 2nd, 3rd...
But it's more than just the story of the founding of the country, it's a love story, or really two, with the Jeffersons Martha, played by Blythe Danner and the Adams pair, with the incredible Virginia Vestoff as John's Abigail who interacts with her husband only in his mind.
For a musical, it is something of a "warts and all" examination of the process, as the south refuses to sign a declaration that freed their slaves, as Jefferson had intended in the original draft. John Cullum brilliantly voices this discussion as the genteel South Carolinian, Edward Rutledge, in the hypnotic and haunting "Molasses to Rum." In fact, every song in the score is well thought out, clever, truthful and very entertaining!
Maybe this isn't *exactly* how the USA began, but, at least once a year, let's say it is.
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