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>
Although the Cool, Cool Considerate Men number was cut from the original film release as a favor to Richard Nixon by Jack L. Warner, the cut footage was not destroyed like Warner had done before in similar past circumstances since he was no longer a studio head. For that reason only, the excised segment was found and could be restored to the laserdisc and DVD. Nixon asked the writer Sherman Edwards to cut it out after seeing the play at the White House, but the author steadfastly refused. See more »
In the song "Lees of Old Virginia" Richard Henry Lee mentions General Lighthorse Harry Lee. In fact Henry Lee III, in 1776, was neither a General, nor had he yet become known as "Lighthorse Harry," a moniker that he would only earn after taking command of "Lee's Legion" in 1778. See more »
Dr. Benjamin Franklin:
[referring to Martha Jefferson]
No wonder the man couldn't write! Who could think of independence being married to her?
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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 »
As a person who has gained a college degree in History, I first fell in love with this movie when I saw it as the stage play with the Broadway cast in my junior year in high school, in 1976. The movie is surprisingly accurate with direct quotations from key congressional members, such as Adams, Franklin and Jefferson as borne out in David McCullough's "John Adams." Yes, there were a few licenses taken with history such as the dramatic scene with Wilson,Dickinson, and Franklin when Wilson is forced to decide the entire question of independence on his vote. But it is these few licenses that bring out the true seriousness of the founding of our nation. One particular scene that I am glad was restored from Jack L. Warner's shameful caving in to Richard Nixon is the piece "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men." That piece clearly fleshed out the Conservative's viewpoint in Congress. William Daniels is perfect for the part of John Adams. His Boston twang (even though he was born in New York) is excellent. One cast change that I am glad they made is putting Blythe Danner in the role of Martha Jefferson in the movie version, in place of Betty Buckley. No offense to Ms. Buckley, I love her as an actress in her roles, but her voice comes across too nasal and strident in her singing of Tom's qualities. (I own the stage play LP to make this comparison) The rest of the cast is perfect. Donald Madden was excellent as John Dickinson, even if you can forgive his singing voice in "Cool, Considerate Men." I will always think of Howard Da Silva and Ken Howard as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, respectively. All in all, it is a movie that should be seen by everyone in their High School History or Civics class.
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