Open Air Cinema's Top 5 Fourth of July Films (Part 1)

In America, the Fourth of July is the absolute apex of summertime fun. It's a day that has everything - parades, games, fireworks, and a seemingly-endless supply of grilled goods to feast upon. The only thing missing is some cinema under the stars. In between your afternoon barbecue and the evening's fireworks, why not set up your inflatable screen for an outdoor movie. It's easy to do, and will definitely provide some good entertainment for your Independence Day party crew - especially if you choose some of our favorite Fourth of July films here at Open Air Cinema.

Air Force One

(Wolfgang Petersen, 1997)

Political thrillers like Air Force One are always interesting because the thought exercise of putting the most powerful person in the Free World in grave, possibly morbid peril, is the American equivalent of wondering aloud what a fallen Olympus would look like (incidentally, a later movie about the White House under siege would be titled Olympus Has Fallen). In other words, the stakes are extremely high in this film where Russian terrorists hold the President hostage - and they're made even higher by the fact that this kidnap takes place aboard a plane in flight. Harrison Ford delivers the goods as a President who takes the action into his own hands and Gay Oldman is coldly terrifying as the ringleader of the hijackers. The final action-packed moments will have even the most cynical of Americans cheering the President on.


(Peter Hunt, 1972)

Most people will probably remember this as the film you watched in U.S. History when your teacher caught lyme disease. But, out of all the old films about the Founding Fathers you could watch, 1776 is one of the more entertaining. Casting primarily veterans of the stage has some potential downfalls in film. But the ensemble, and in particular William Daniels as John Adams, brave the transition from boards to celluloid expertly, keeping the staged quality of the musical without losing the intimacy that can come from film. While it may be a bit of familiar history, this musical about the founding of our nation is some lively fun for the whole family.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

(Frank Capra, 1939)

For anyone who believes that even a firmly-entrenched system can be shaken up, this is the classic film for you. Frank Capra's incredible comedy about a good but inexperienced man thrust into the world of American politics was controversial upon its release, back in 1939. Now, 75 years later it is still an important primer for anyone who loves their country enough to be suspicious of their government. Jimmy Stewart, of course, shines as the supposed bumpkin trying to clean up Washington. His filibustering scenes remain iconic even to this day.

National Treasure

(Jon Turteltaub, 2004)

Nicolas Cage might be fun for a laugh on the Internet, but he's also good for a great patriotic adventure movie that maybe feels a little lighter in tone. National Treasure isn't exactly Citizen Kane, we know. But if you're looking for an Indiana Jones-style adventure that goes well with red, white, and blue, look no further than this adventure story about a hands-on historian who has to actually steal the Declaration of Independence in order to save - you guessed it - a secret treasure. This film has some great action sequences, some decent buddy comedy moments, and a healthy dose of Mr. Jon Voight, who is a seasoned expert at playing a treasure hunter's father (see Tomb Raider). This is definitely the movie you play outdoors when you want something lighthearted for Fourth of July.

Independence Day

(Roland Emmerich, 1996)

This movie, thank goodness, does not have very much to do with any event in American history. But it still involves the President of the United States strapping himself into a fighter jet and taking on a race of alien destructors - on the Fourth of July, no less! Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Randy Quaid all team up in this blockbuster about alien invasion which still thrills today. Watching the White House being blown to smithereens may not seem like a patriotic thing to do. But when you see how this ragtag band of heroes stops the invading horde with American-style ingenuity and grit, it's easy to understand why this is a perfect Fourth of July film to enjoy on your inflatable screen. As always, be sure to respect copyright laws. If you're using your inflatable screen for public outdoor movie events, you'll want to visit Criterion Pictures USA or Swank Motion Pictures, Inc for the performance rights for these movies. В 

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