A lot of film sites are currently treading on your liberties, compiling lists of the best movies to watch this Fourth of July. You know who else made lists? …
As an American (a North American from the United States, that is), you should have the backbone to stand up to these list makers and say, “fuck you, I’m in the mood to watch Under The Tuscan Sun today,” and then pour yourself a glass of Shiraz, you magnificent bastard.
That said, here are a few suggestions. The “American-ness” of them varies from film to film.
Winter Kills (1979)
A 1979 conspiracy thriller where Jeff Bridges not only plays the son of John Huston’s tycoon character, but the half brother of an assassinated POTUS. The talent behind this one is nuts too. Written by Richard Condon (The Manchurian Candidate), photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, you name it), music by Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia) and production design by Robert F. Boyle (North By Northwest). There are a lot of bonkers cameos/performances too (Elizabeth Taylor, Joe Spinell and Toshiro Mifune!), but the reason to watch is John Huston, who plays an updated and exaggerated version of his character from Chinatown. The satire of American excess is as unsubtle as it comes, but this is a great, “lost” film waiting for a larger audience and one of the last gasps of 70s political paranoia.
A League of Their Own (1992)
This is my favorite baseball movie (until someone adapts “The Bad Guys Won,” a great book about the depraved 1986 Mets). You can make a case for Eight Men Out, The Natural, Field of Dreams, The Sandlot, Bull Durham, Major League, etc. but The Rockford Peaches make me laugh and cry every time. Why? Every last girl on the team (with a speaking role) has a memorable moment, from that sad woman who can’t read to Marla Hooch pouring her heart and soul into an aching rendition of “It Had To Be You.” The filmmaking IQ is through the roof here, with everything from the editing (featuring an all-time great montage) to Tom Hank’s effortless brilliance as recovering alcoholic (at his own pace) coach, Jimmy Dugan. If you don’t love the “There’s no crying in baseball” scene, then your heart is a cold, rocky place where my seed can find no purchase. But there’s so much more! Geena Davis’ one-handed catch! “Slide! Slide! Thank yooooou!” Marla’s father begging Jon Lovitz to take his daughter on the team! Jimmy Dugan’s minute-long piss! Pitting Kit against Dottie in the final game! Madonna swing dancing as a young superstar in her prime! Even Rosie O’Donnell is good!
Deadly Prey (1987)
“In Vietnam he was the best…
…HE STILL IS”
If you don’t know the Prior Bros. (Director David and hunky, “movie star” Ted), then you’re missing out. This is probably their best known film and with good reason. Their First Blood meets The Most Dangerous Game knock-off is wall-to-wall stupid and simply one of the most entertaining action movies you’ll ever see. Want to celebrate our vets this holiday? Do that, and then give Deadly Prey a spin. I’m not spoiling anything else for you.
Happy Fourth of July! Get at least a little sun!