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Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.

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(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Josh Evans ...
Tommy Kovic
Jamie Talisman ...
Jimmy Kovic
Anne Bobby ...
Suzanne Kovic
Samantha Larkin ...
Patty Kovic
...
...
Timmy
...
Steve Boyer
Richard Panebianco ...
Joey Walsh
Rob Camilletti ...
Tommy Finnelli
...
Billy Vorsovich
Michael McTighe ...
Danny Fantozzi
Richard Haus ...
Recruiting Sgt. Bowers
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Storyline

The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of innocence lost and courage found.

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

5 January 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Geboren am 4. Juli  »

Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$70,001,698 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film represents one of the rare instances where Oliver Stone was able to cast his very first choice for a starring role in one of his motion pictures. Tom Cruise was Stone's definite preference for the role of Ron Kovic, a casting decision that Kovic ultimately stood by. See more »

Goofs

The song "American Pie" is played twice in scenes that are indicated as being in 1969. American Pie was not released until 1971. See more »

Quotes

Chaplain - Vietnam: How are you?
Ron Kovic: [weakly] Tell them - they have to operate on me. There's something wrong with me.
Chaplain - Vietnam: The doctors are real busy right now. There's a lot of wounded here today. No time for anything except trying to stay alive, so you got to try and stay alive, okay? You hear me? Try and stay alive.
[pause]
Chaplain - Vietnam: I've come to give you your last rites. Are you ready?
Ron Kovic: [weakly] Yeah.
Chaplain - Vietnam: I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Cast credits are sorted by location. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Office: The Injury (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Soldier Boy
Written by Luther Dixon and Florence Green
Performed by The Shirelles
Courtesy of Original Sound Record Co., Inc.
Published by ABKCO Music, Inc. Ludix Publishing Co., Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Don't overlook the story
14 February 2002 | by (Stratford, NJ USA) – See all my reviews

You've heard the express "can't see the forest for the trees", right? It refers to someone who gets so caught up in details, they miss the big picture. Reading other comments on IMDb regarding "Born on the Fourth of July", I think people have the opposite problem with this film. So many people seem to get caught up in talking about Vietnam, war, Nixon, America, Communism, and hippies, that they totally overlook Ron Kovic.

Ron Kovic is the center of this film. In "Platoon", war was the center, and the central character (Charlie Sheen's Chris Taylor) was merely a POV character through whose eyes we could see war. Not so in "Born on the Fourth of July". Vietnam is the setting, the context, and the backdrop. But Ron Kovic is the story.

Oliver Stone really understands a character arc. Look at Kovic's life, where it starts, where it ends. The film is the journey, how he got from A to B. It is a dramatization of a life, as opposed to an actual life, but it still rings true. It feels true. It reaches an artistic level of truth, even if some literal truths are overlooked, distorted, or rearranged. That's what Stone is trying to do. People who quibble about the facts miss the point. (This is a theme I will take up again when I review some of Stone's other films, as Stone is constantly being bashed for historical inaccuracies.) The connections from one point to the next work admirably, and the progression is completely believable, which is quite a feat for such a dramatic change of attitude (compare to "American History X", where the main character goes through a similar about face with scant motivation).

Anyway, what impresses me about this film is the honesty and respect with which Stone presents the opposing views of the film. Say what you want about Stone's political beliefs, but the argument in this film is presented in a very neutral light. It's a story about Kovic's choices, Kovic's politics, Kovic's judgments. And the anti-Vietnam beliefs he finally supports in the final act are a very natural and believable outcome of the story. This film isn't anywhere near as didactic as some people like to imagine.

The tragedy of Oliver Stone is that, because he has been so edgy, so controversial, so deliberately provocative, no one can really just sit down and, with a neutral eye, watch his films. They have become so burdened by this giant, irrelevant, political squabble. The films have been subsumed by the very issues they sought to raise. And it's a shame, with this film especially, because it is excellent.

Tom Cruise gives possibly the greatest performance of his career (I can't think of anything that tops it, though his performance in "Eyes Wide Shut", for very different reasons, is just as remarkable). The script is fantastic, taking time where it needs to take time, but not overly deliberate in its approach. It's very economical with time. It knows what each scene needs to say, and says it without any excess baggage, wasted space, or dead time. The direction is excellent, as is the editing and cinematography. The supporting cast is excellent.

But this movie would be nothing without the remarkable, heart-rending, true story of Ron Kovic. So, while we admire the technical achievement of the film, while we debate the points raised, while we enshrine or excoriate the director (as the case may be), let's not forget the story. Let's not get so fired up about Vietnam that we forget Ron Kovic. He is the heart and soul of this film.

One final note: I bristle when people call this an anti-war film. That really diminishes it, I think. It's so much more than that. It's not just saying that war is brutal, nasty, and horrific. It's saying something far more specific about a specific war, and about the effect of that war on a specific man.


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