7.2/10
95,662
205 user 77 critic

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

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2:54 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Oliver Stone

Writers:

Ron Kovic (book), Oliver Stone (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
783 ( 979)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Cruise ... Ron Kovic
Bryan Larkin ... Young Ron
Raymond J. Barry ... Mr. Kovic
Caroline Kava ... Mrs. Kovic
Josh Evans ... Tommy Kovic
Seth Allen Seth Allen ... Young Tommy
Jamie Talisman Jamie Talisman ... Jimmy Kovic
Sean Stone ... Young Jimmy
Anne Bobby ... Susanne Kovic
Jenna von Oÿ ... Young Susanne
Samantha Larkin Samantha Larkin ... Patty Kovic
Erika Geminder Erika Geminder ... Young Patty
Amanda Davis Amanda Davis ... Baby Patty
Kevin Harvey Morse Kevin Harvey Morse ... Jackie Kovic
John Getz ... Marine Major
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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

Plot Keywords:

drunkenness | desert | bar | 1970s | 1950s | See All (138) »

Taglines:

A story of innocence lost and courage found.

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

When Oliver Stone is interviewing the infantry officer on the television, the officer's branch insignia is on his right collar. U.S. Army officers wear their branch insignia on the left collar. See more »

Quotes

Ron Kovic: When I was in the hospital, I thought, yeah - yeah, this makes sense.
Timmy Burns: What makes sense?
Ron Kovic: Because I failed, Timmy.
Timmy Burns: What are you talking about?
Ron Kovic: Because I - I killed some - people; I made some terrible - mistakes!
Timmy Burns: Oh, for Christ's sake, Ronnie, we all made mistakes. I mean, you - you had no choice. That's something that those goddamn pansy demonstrators ain't never gonna understand! Now, you don't even have to talk about it, Ronnie; I mean, it was insane over there! It was crazy!
Ron Kovic: Sometimes I wish, I wish...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

The film's title is seen after the end credits have finished. See more »

Connections

Edited into Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Maleguena
Written by Elpidio Ramírez (as Ramirez) / Pedro Galindo (as Galindo)
Performed by Luis Alberto del Paraná (as Luis Alberto del Parana) and His Trio Los Paraguayos
Courtesy of Polygram Special Products, a Division of Polygram Records, Inc.
Published by Peer International Corp.
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User Reviews

 
Don't overlook the story
14 February 2002 | by andrew7See 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

5 January 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Born on the Fourth of July See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$172,021, 25 December 1989

Gross USA:

$70,001,698

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$161,001,698
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ixtlan See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby SR (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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