Quintessential American Movies For Your 4th of July Holiday

July 3, 2014

Need a breather from bustling 4th festivities? Here’s a list of American movies to get you through the weekend.

To celebrate our great nation’s Independence Day, I will be on a mountain lake in Montana called Flathead, eating hot dogs, drinking beer and sending fireworks into the starry American sky.  After a day filled with such exhausting nationalist activities, what better way to unwind than by watching one of my favorite films highlighting trends in the U.S. of A?

1. Easy Rider

easy rider, american movies, fourth of july, audience awards

Photo courtesy of IMDB.

Two free men on an open road, riding motorcycles and camping, is an image more romantic to me than a ride through the canals of Venice.  Easy Rider is representative of the 1960’s counter-culture that liberated the souls of Americans and set them loose from their parents’ 1950 cookie-cutter ideals. Freedom, liberation, independence —these themes sound pretty American to me.

2. Forest Gump

forest jump, fourth of july films, american movies

Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota.

As the inspiration behind Elvis’s swingin’ hips, a soldier receiving the Medal of Honor, an All-American football player and someone who gets to meet John F. Kennedy, Forrest Gump may be one of the luckiest Americans to have ever lived.  It’s another snapshot of America from the ’50s and ’60s, and a classic I always enjoy revisiting.

3. Rebel Without a Cause

rebel without a cause, fourth of july, american movies

Photo courtesy of N Savides blog.

I’m curious what percentage of America’s population is made up of angsty, suburban, middle-class teenagers.  The amount of suburbians has doubled since the 1950s, the decade that James Dean rebelled against his parents in Rebel Without a Cause.  He died before its release, but has remained a steadfast cultural icon.  This classic film has been added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

4. American Pie

Photo Courtesy of Desktop Nexus.

What’s more American than American Pie?  Movies that feature hormone-driven teenagers, who are embarrassing themselves in an attempt to get laid on prom night.  It won’t be making the National Film Registry in the near future, but it is the coming-of-age comedy of the ’90s.

5. National Lampoon’s Vacation

vacation, summer vacation, chevy chase, fourth of july, american movies

Photo courtesy of All Things D.

It’s the original and best of the Vacation series, in my opinion.  Every Christmas season, my family’s tradition is to watch Christmas Vacation, and every summer we re-watch National Lampoon’s Vacation. This epic American saga transports you, in a wood-paneled station wagon, through the trials and tribulations faced by Clark (Chevy Chase), in his humble effort to bring his family to Wollyworld.

6. Bonnie and Clyde

bonnie and clyde, infamous couple, fourth of july, american movies

Photo courtesy of The Guardian.

The underbelly of American history has gathered public enemies such as train robbers, drug lords, Mafioso and the infamous American outlaw couple, Bonnie and Clyde. They’re good looking and they tote guns — hmm, sounds like a box office hit!

7. Apocalypse Now

apocalypse now, american movies, fourth of july, audience awards

Photo courtesy of Cinephiliamedia.

War is a prevailing topic here in America, and who can better expose its horror than Francis Ford Coppola. This is my favorite war movie, a psychological undertaking on the affects of warfare, and a brilliantly shot film that speaks to the genius behind American cinematic artistry.

8. Top Gun

top gun, maverick, iceman, fourth of july, american movies

Photo courtesy of Outside the Box Score.

For some good ol’ fashioned, action-packed competition, watch Maverick and Iceman wage out their egos in fighter jets. This ’80s classic highlights the American military prowess and camaraderie between fellow naval pilots. Even better, it stars a hunky Tom Cruise before he became a Scientologist and was still a heart throb.

9. Back to the Future

back to the future, american movies, fourth of july

Photo courtesy of Back to the Future.

If America could figure out time travel, I may be convinced that we would be the world’s greatest nation. Think of all the possibilities for mending some of our fault-laden history.  What decade would you return to?  Which America would you chose to experience?  Although Back to the Future is emblematic of the ’80s, it considers the influence of time and change.

10. Pulp Fiction

pulp fiction, american movies

Photo courtesy of Criterion.

Violence so eloquent and endurable is the trademark and talent of Quentin Tarantino.  One of my favorite cult classics, Pulp Fiction, does redemption in true American fashion, with guns blazing, boxing gloves on, and hot moves on the dance floor.  Fast, witty, with impeccable acting, Pulp Fiction embodies great modern America cinema like no other film.



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