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Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

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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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Writers:

(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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3,270 ( 361)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Ron Kovic
... Mr. Kovic
... Mrs. Kovic
Josh Evans ... Tommy Kovic
Jamie Talisman ... Jimmy Kovic
... Suzanne Kovic
Samantha Larkin ... Patty Kovic
... Recruiting Gunnery Sgt. Hayes
... 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:

Nacido el cuatro de julio  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$172,021, 25 December 1989, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$70,001,698

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$161,001,698
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The actor who played young Ron Kovic, Bryan Larkin, was originally from Massapequa, New York, the town the character he was playing was from, and where the bulk of the movie takes place. Of course, most of the movie was filmed in Texas, including the young Ron Kovic scenes. Ironically, Bryan Larkin left his hometown of Massapequa for Texas to film scenes that are meant to be in Massapequa. See more »

Goofs

The movie major is a decidedly unsympathetic character who ends his discussion with young Kovic by threatening to "take his head" if any more is said about the matter. The real-life major, traced by U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Fred Peck, would not consent to an interview. Through Lt. Col. Peck, the major confirmed Ron Kovic voiced such concerns to him. The major investigated and concluded it was unlikely Mr. Kovic had killed the Marine. Subsequently, the major promoted Mr. Kovic, making him the leader of a new scout group. See more »

Quotes

Steve Boyer: You could start out as a cashier... and then work your way up to becoming a manager of one of these places - just like your dad.
Ron Kovic: I get $1700 a month from the government. I think I'm just going to lay low, and look around...
Steve Boyer: [dismissively] That's charity money, Ronnie; this isn't.
Ron Kovic: Charity?
Steve Boyer: All I'm saying is that you got to - you got to put the war behind you, you know; you got to forget about this chair you're in!
Ron Kovic: [leans forward] Sometimes, Stevie, I think people, they know you're back from ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Cast credits are sorted by location. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Cielito Lindo
Written by Quirino Mendoza, Arranged by Trini López (as Trini Lopez)
Performed by Trini López (as Trini Lopez)
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
Published by Polygram International Publishing, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Don't overlook the story
14 February 2002 | by 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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