7.6/10
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143 user 39 critic

1776 (1972)

A musical retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.

Director:

Peter H. Hunt

Writers:

Peter Stone (book), Sherman Edwards (based on a conception of) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Daniels ... John Adams (MA)
Howard Da Silva ... Dr. Benjamin Franklin (PA)
Ken Howard ... Thomas Jefferson (VA)
Donald Madden ... John Dickinson (PA)
John Cullum ... Edward Rutledge (SC)
Roy Poole ... Stephen Hopkins (RI)
David Ford ... Congressional President John Hancock (MA)
Ron Holgate Ron Holgate ... Richard Henry Lee (VA)
Ray Middleton ... Col. Thomas McKean (DE)
William Hansen William Hansen ... Caesar Rodney (DE)
Blythe Danner ... Martha Jefferson
Virginia Vestoff ... Abigail Adams
Emory Bass Emory Bass ... Judge James Wilson (PA)
Ralston Hill Ralston Hill ... Congressional Secretary Charles Thomson
Howard Caine ... Lewis Morris (NY)
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Storyline

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>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Great Holiday Show That Sets The Screen Aglow


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 November 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

1776 See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut) | (Laserdisc) | (extended Blu-Ray cut) | (Special Edition) | (restored)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only filmed credit for Ralston Hill (Congressional Secretary Charles Thomson) and Charles Rule (Joseph Hewes (NC)). See more »

Goofs

Several times, Benjamin Franklin mocks John Adams for coming from Boston. Franklin himself was born and raised in Boston, leaving only in his late teens, but this part of his life was very unhappy, so it makes sense that he would distance himself from it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
McNair: [Adams stands with the Liberty Bell, lost in thought] Mr. Adams? Mr. Adams? Mr. Adams! Well, there you are. Didn't you hear me calling, Mr. Adams? You could have shouted down something, save me climbing up four flights. A man that likes to talk as much as you do, I think...
[Adams turns and gives McNair a hard stare]
McNair: What do you keep coming up here for, Mr. Adams? Afraid someone's gonna steal our bell?
[he chortles]
McNair: Well, no worry. Been here more than fourteen years and it ain't been ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

For the 2002 DVD release (and Turner Classic Movies showings), the film has been shortened slightly from the laserdisc version, to 166 minutes. The overture and entr'acte music have been removed and the songs "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve" and "Lees of Old Virginia" (the latter's reprise has been removed) have inexplicably been cut back to their original release lengths. On the other hand, a short piece of footage following "Cool, Considerate Men" has been found and reinserted. The replaced footage has been repaired, giving the DVD a much better look visually than the laserdisc. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Ben Shapiro Show: Making Wakanda Great Again (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Sit Down, John
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Performed by William Daniels and the Cast
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Reviewer Revels in 1776
12 December 2002 | by Grafton81See all my reviews

1776 is a masterful representation of the emotion, logic and debate, leading to the critical creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence. It captures, beautifully and subtly, the moment the colonies crossed the line, one by one, to leave England's rule.

The writing is superb, and the direction is perfection itself. The music and lyrics add a bold exclamation point, for they range from funny to serious, simple to complex, in the richness of sound and appropriateness of placement.

Leading the charge is the cantankerous character of John Adams (William Daniels). It is nothing less than a remarkable and brilliant portrayal, probably one of the most difficult, and yet one of the best ever played. Daniels walks a very fine line, depicting the essence of a man who grates on his friends and foes, yet quickly pulls the audience to his side. You can't help but feel the desperation, frustration and passion of Adams, as he tries to persuade and pull reluctant and loyalist colonial representatives to his cause.

Frank Da Silva's Ben Franklin is equal to the challenge of the quality performance given by Daniels. Franklin is certainly the more popular figure among the characters, but nevertheless has many complexities, expertly brought out by the quality writing and Da Silva's fine skill as an actor of high caliber.

It is hard to write a review of such a fine film, without mentioning all the magnificent performances by a remarkably talented cast. It is far easier, and much more pleasurable, to simply view the film. Pay attention to the lighting and choreography. Watch the meeting room transform from a rather plain space, to one of intensity, as the room goes from static and flat, to lively and dramatic. It follows the mood of the film, as the issue of independence is moved from a side issue, to weave its way to the forefront. The oversized calendar reminds one of the ticking of a clock, as the days move inevitably to July 4th. And while we know the outcome of the events, it is too easy to be drawn into the process, and become captured by the suspense of those last six weeks leading to the formation of a new nation. The tally board, which records the votes of the colonies, also looms large on the wall. The movement from left to right, for and against independence, also adds to the suspense and drama of the film.

There are lighthearted moments, and witty banter, among the characters, as one would expect. But there are surprises too. And the viewer gets to see an amazing transformation of the irritable Adams to a much softer person, when he corresponds with Abigail. Please add 1776, with confidence, to your list of must-see movies. I think it is as fresh today as it was 30-years ago. It is time for a film re-release, or at least a revival on Broadway, but since such things rarely happen, do yourself a favor and rent or buy the movie. Personally, I think it was the finest of its kind. Can one rate it higher than a ten? Would that I could, for it deserves it. Kudos to the writer, director, and amazing cast. It was, for many, their very best performances, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.


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