On Independence Day weekend, the movie channels run several of the tried and true classics that Americans generally regard as essential patriotic films. Forrest Gump, Air Force One, and the Independence Day where Fresh Prince beats up aliens are commonly run on the Fourth of July. This list is meant to shine a light on the films that embody the “American experience” but fail to receive the same holiday exposure. These movies exemplify the virtues and values of American life. When you hit up Redbox, scan through Netflix or, manage to find an open video store, consider renting these following patriotic classics.
Gran Torino (2008)
Clint Eastwood’s brilliant portrayal of a recently widowed Korean War veteran made Gran Torino a box office hit and a reminder of the cultural and generational clashes in modern day America. Standing his ground against the criminal youth taking over his neighborhood, Walt Kowalski finds himself mentoring a young Vietnamese boy who’s trying to do be a good person but is being antagonized by the gang culture of Detroit.
The American Bicentennial was a year of cynical American film. Although great films like Taxi Driver and Network accurately examined the societal decay taking place after the Vietnam War, it was a small budget film about a down on his luck boxer getting a shot at the heavyweight title that won the affection of American film goers. Rocky Balboa would become part of the national pop culture lexicon and make a landmark out of Philadelphia Museum of Art.
American Graffiti (1973)
Before taking us to a galaxy far away, George Lucas took us back to the summer of 1962 with this coming of age tale starring Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss. A group of recently graduated high school students spend their last summer night together before going to college. The original teen comedy, American Graffiti illustrates American life through the innocent, pre-Vietnam era eyes of teenagers with nothing to do on the weekend but cruise in their Chevy’s, drink malt shakes, and listen to rock & roll music.
The Bad News Bears (1976)
There’s more to life than winning. As we learn in this sports classic, losing can teach you more about yourself than winning ever could. An alcoholic, ex-pro athlete played by Walter Matthau coaches a misfit youth baseball team comprised of kids none of the other teams wanted. As the laughing stock of the league, the Bad News Bears quickly earn the respect of their peers by playing with heart when their physical talents fail.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Reviled by government officials as “pro-Communist” at the time of release, this film has proven to be timeless with its message considering today’s political climate. Junior Senator, Jefferson Smith, halts plans to build a dam that would stop the construction of a camp ground for kids by holding a 24 hour filibuster on the senate floor. The political machine tries to stop him up but the honest Smith prevails with his pro-liberty speech at the end of the film.
So what do you think? Do you agree with our top five, or do you have your own list of must-sees? Leave us a comment, and pin your favorite rental movie scenes to Rent It Today’s Favorite Movie Rentals Pinterest page.