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283 of 285 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie to watch every year on the Fourth of July
Every 4th of July I watch "1776," the musical that has our Founding Fathers singing and dancing their way to Independency, and every time John and Abagail Adams sing goodbye to each other ("Till Then" and "Yours, Yours, Yours"), I get choked up. William Daniels has his role of a lifetime as John Adams, the obnoxious and disliked Massachusetts delegate to the Continental...
Published on July 20, 2001 by Amazon Customer

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201 of 206 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Legendary 180 minute 1992 Laser Disc Restoration...here's the story
In April of 1991, Joseph Caporiccio approached his bosses at Pioneer with the idea of letterboxing this lost classic and giving it a true stereo soundtrack for the first time ever. Only mono tracks believed to exist but approval was soon given based on the continued popularity of the previous laser disc release. Director Peter H. Hunt confirmed that the music was recorded...
Published on January 20, 2008 by the masked reviewer


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283 of 285 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie to watch every year on the Fourth of July, July 20, 2001
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1776 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Every 4th of July I watch "1776," the musical that has our Founding Fathers singing and dancing their way to Independency, and every time John and Abagail Adams sing goodbye to each other ("Till Then" and "Yours, Yours, Yours"), I get choked up. William Daniels has his role of a lifetime as John Adams, the obnoxious and disliked Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress who is the most fervent advocate of independence ("Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve"). Virginia Vestoff plays his wife Abigail, and their exchanges are based on the "Dearest Friend" correspondences they wrote to each other during the crucial summer of 1776. However, the most unforgettable performance in "1776" comes from Howard Da Silva as Dr. Benjamin Franklin. The actor, who played movie villains for years, manages to convey not only Franklin's wit but also his firm belief in the new race of "Americans." Ken Howard plays Thomas Jefferson and joins with Adams and Franklin in the show's two cutest numbers, "But, Mr. Adams" and "The Egg." I have never cottoned "The Lees of Old Virginia," the song sung by Richard Henry Lee (Ron Holgate) and where every lyric line ends with "LY," but at the other end of the spectrum is the chilling "Molasses to Rum to Slaves," the song about the Triangle Trade sung by South Carolina's Edward Rutledge (John Cullum). The ensemble cast brings the Second Continental Congress alive, with Roy Poole as Stephen Hopkins, David Ford as John Hancock and William Hansen as Caesar Rodney standing out. Most of the cast members were in the Tony Award winning original Broadway cast, although Blythe Danner replaces Betty Buckley as Martha Jefferson ("He Plays the Violin").

Peter Stone's book is remarkably accurate in relating the historical events; the biggest error a historian would point to is that John Dickinson (Donald Madden), did not show up the day of the crucial vote so that Pennsylvania would not kill Independence. But Broadway and Hollywood must be allowed to make things more dramatic. What makes "1776" so wonderful is how it teaches history while being so entertaining. The opening of the film, where the tirade by Mr. Adams against the do nothing Continental Congress is interrupted by the collective Founding Fathers jumping up and singing "Sit Down, John," sets the tone and Peter H. Hunt's film delivers throughout. The show's best moment comes in "Is Anybody There?" when John Adams, all alone in the quiet chamber, dreams of the pomp and pageantry of a free America.

I also have the laserdisc version, which runs 176 minutes and includes 35 minutes of material originally cut from the film, including the song "Cool, Considerate Men" and alternative shots in several sequences. While the quality of the additional material is in very sad shape, fans of "1776" will take what they can get. Hopefully the complete film can be restored before we get to the DVD version (hint, hint, hint). Granted, the idea of a musical about the Declaration of Independence seems bizarre; I once blew off a chance to see "1776" on stage because I thought the idea was stupid. But this is a first-rate musical that makes the time and issues come alive, so that even thought we obviously know the outcome, we are enthralled because it looks like Mr. Adams will never get his Declaration adopted. If you are looking for a film to watch each 4th of July, "1776" is the one.
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165 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For God's Sake, John, Sit Down..., April 18, 2003
By 
Richard M. Affleck (Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1776 (Restored Director's Cut) (DVD)
First, let me say that I'm not a big fan of movie musicals. However, I've always made an exception for 1776. I suppose it's my abiding interest in history, and in the popular presentation of history, that keeps me coming back to this film. For the uninitiated, 1776 is the story of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and was first presented on Broadway in the late 1960s. Set in Philadelphia in June and early July of 1776, the action centers around John Adams's attempt to get a reluctant Continental Congress to declare the 13 colonies independent of Great Britain. Adams, and his allies (including Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson), is opposed at every step by the conservatives in Congress, led by John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. Although we know the ending, it is to scriptwriter Peter Stone's credit that we realize things may have turned out rather differently.
My first recorded version of this movie was taped off of a local television station that had drastically edited it for length and content. When I finally got around to buying the VHS version of 1776, I was amazed at what had been left out, particularly when it came to the earthier dialogue. Imagine my reaction to the new DVD director's cut edition of this musical; it was like watching a completely new movie. Bridging scenes that had been edited out now provide a nearly seamless narrative flow, and the musical number "Cool, Considerate Men" has been restored, providing for greater balance between the conservatives and radicals in Congress.
The cast, a number of whom reprise their roles from the Broadway production, is nearly flawless. William Daniels IS John Adams, hard-headed, driven, passionate, "obnoxious and disliked". Howard da Silva is equally effective as Benjamin Franklin, elder statesman and earthy man-of-the-world, while the rest of the actors do very well by their characters. Of necessity, the film's emphasis is on Congress, and therefore on the male of the species; women are limited to two roles--Martha Jefferson, played by Blythe Danner, and Abigail Adams, played by Virginia Vestoff. Of Danner's role, there is little to say beyond the fact that the actress is a luminous screen presence. Vestoff, on the other hand, has a rather more substantial role as John Adams's wife, confidant, and sounding board. The film effectively portrays the correspondence between John and Abigail, a partnership that was, in many ways, remarkable in American history.
Director Peter Hunt keeps things moving along at a lively pace, propelled by the music of Sherman Edwards, who also wrote the lyrics. It's hard to pick a favorite song, but two stand out in my mind--the chilling "Molasses to Rum to Slaves" and the poignant "Mamma, Look Sharp". The former underlines the flawed nature of the American Experiment--that a new nation established on the principle that "all men are created equal" would also keep hundreds of thousands of people in chains. The latter song brings home the fact that while Congress engages in endless debates, men (and boys) are dying on the field of battle.
I could dwell at some length on the historical inaccuracies embodied in this movie--the character of Judge Wilson, for one, and that of Richard Henry Lee, for another. However, purism aside, what 1776 makes clear is just what a close run thing independence really was, that there was, indeed, a significant proportion of Americans (and their representatives) who wished to remain loyal to the British crown. Better yet, the Founding Fathers are portrayed mot as marble men, but as the passionate, flawed, flesh-and-blood individuals they were.
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201 of 206 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Legendary 180 minute 1992 Laser Disc Restoration...here's the story, January 20, 2008
This review is from: 1776 (Restored Director's Cut) (DVD)
In April of 1991, Joseph Caporiccio approached his bosses at Pioneer with the idea of letterboxing this lost classic and giving it a true stereo soundtrack for the first time ever. Only mono tracks believed to exist but approval was soon given based on the continued popularity of the previous laser disc release. Director Peter H. Hunt confirmed that the music was recorded in stereo, but its location was anybody's guess. He also informed Mr. Caporiccio of an entire musical number cut after only two preview screenings in New York and Phoenix.

"Cool Considerated Men" was as powerful and entertaining as any song in the film, a personal favorite of the director. But after a negative reaction from the White House regarding the scene's anti-conservative tone, studio executives agreed to remove eight solid minutes. So great was the pressure that the original negative and all known parts of the scene were destroyed. A search began for any version of the missing footage.

Meanwhile, the option of using the soundtrack album as a source of stereo music was rejected because of the heavy reverberation added prior to release. Columbia Records later provided access to the original sixteen-track master tapes of the songs, background music and some of the reprises, but unmixed and unbalanced. Complete sound for "Cool Men" was located in this massive collection. The final sound for this laserdisc was essentially reassembled from scratch.

The movie premiered in 1972, approximately forty minutes shorter than Mr. Hunt's original cut! Legendary producer Jack L. Warner personally supervised a series of cuts intended to accommodate additional showings on daily schedules, a necessity happily irrelevant to home video. The major theatrical release and all previous video releases ran 141 minutes, down from three hours. "Cool Men" was among the last cuts made.

Columbia graciously released box after box of priceless film and soundtrack from their storage facility in Kansas. The fact that this footage even exists today is a testament to the studio's respect for filmmaking. Amazingly, even small strips running a fraction of a second were preserved. Mr. Caporiccio, assisted by Michael Matessino, poured over this treasure trove of "lost" material. Long hours were spent readying the sound note-by-note to match the new transfer.

The magnitude of the possibilities became clear after playing a three-channel orchestral tape of "Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve." Mr. Caporiccio picked up William Daniel's voice carrying over to the nearby musicians' microphone, singing lyrics that were not in the movie! Recorded and filmed, these additional shots were prime material for inclusion once again. Now he and Michael Matessino stepped up their efforts. Footage was cleaned by hand, color retimed, individual frames repaired.

Finally, color "Cool Men" footage began arriving in bits. Miracle: a complete set of the excised scenes had secretly been set aside by the editor on the 1972 trimming project! Painstakingly edited and synchronized to the stereo tracks, it is now presented as the director intended all along. In the end only one scene in the film had to be taken from the black-and -white workprint and a five second transitional scene was never found.

The restored film on the laserdisc was presented in the widescreen format and remixed for true stereo sound using the original multi-track units (in some cases as many as twenty-four tracks). It contained a total of 40 minutes of footage not seen since the two premiere screenings in 1972, including reconstructed OVERTURE and INTERMISSION music. Other highlights of the Laser Disc version were the full opening credits, newly incorporated character closeups and additional music for several songs. The running time was once again 180 minutes. The 1992 Pioneer Laser Disc Special Edition of 1776 was one of the most ambitious video restorations ever performed.

For the 2002 DVD release, the replaced footage has been repaired, giving the DVD a much cleaner look visually than the laserdisc, but the film has been shortened to 166 minutes. The overture and entr'acte music have been removed entirely and the song "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve" has inexplicably been shorn back down to its original release length. The delightful reprise of "The Lees of Old Virginia" has also been completely removed. One minor plus; a short piece of footage following "Cool, Conservative Men" has been found and reinserted.
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Movie of All Time!, March 31, 2001
By 
Moon Girl (Brick, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1776 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
If it was possible, I would give this movie 100 stars! This movie got me into the American Revolution, and the men behind it with its almost perfect representations of our Founding Fathers. Though everyone knows the story of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, '1776' adds so much more detail and insight into the event. William Daniels is a perfect John Adams...his dogged determination for indpendence are wonderfully portrayed. John Cullum is a chilling Edward Rutledge, and his song 'Molasses to Rum', is a painfully accurate picture of the slave trade. Howard da Silva and Ken Howard are both notable as Franklin and Jefferson, but my favorite actor has to be Ronald Holgate as Richard Henry Lee. He gives such an energetic and humorous performance, and 'The Lees of Old VA' is probably my favorite scene in the movie. '1776' is great for both history buffs and casual viewers. It's really an experience to see how it probably really was in Philadelphia that summer, and it gives so much more body to the men who created our nation. A great movie!!!
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Cheers and Fireworks for 1776!, February 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: 1776 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I was absolutely thrilled to see this movie available for sale on Amazon.com! My family and I have nearly worn out a very poor recording made off television in 1984. Suffice to say, I absolutely love this film. The book by Peter Stone manages to make a thriller out of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Though we all know the ending, the tension and suspense built up through the film leave that ending very much in doubt until the last moment. The cast, most of whom repeat their Broadway roles, are excellent without exception. William Daniels, a perennial favorite of mine, captures the historical Adams to a T -- a man long on passion, if short on people skills. Howard daSilva, to my mind, IS Franklin. Hard to credit these days -- but true -- da Silva was almost denied the Broadway role because of having been targeted by Senator McCarthy's Committee on Unamerican Activities. Then, to top it all off, he had a heart attack right before the opening and was replaced on the cast album. So it's all the more wonderful that his performance lives on in video! Ken Howard is adorable as Jefferson, as is Blythe Danner as his wife, Martha. She, by the way, was one of the few newcomers in the film, replacing Betty Buckley. Of the other supporting characters, the absolute standout is John Cullom. As Routledge, delegate to the Congress from South Carolina, he confronts Adams on the anti-slavery clause in the draft document, threatening to sink the entire effort if the clause is not deleted. His song, "Molasses to Rum to Slaves," a chilling portrayal of the slave trade, is a show-stopper. Sherman Edwards' score may be a bit short on "hum-ability" but it is a near-perfect blend of "period" and contemporary -- no mean feat! True, the history in the fim is not 100% accurate, but it's close. What the film does do, which to me is more important, is to give life and humanity to our founding fathers -- warts, foibles and all. And it gives us all a real sense of what it was like to sit in that room during those hot days in Philadelphia when our nation nearly wasn't born!
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Seeing, January 11, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: 1776 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a terrific film for so many reasons. It's a musical even most musical-haters can stomach; it features wonderful performances from William Daniels and the rest of the cast; and it concerns a subject guaranteed to interest Americans and students of history.
More important, it's a history lesson that doesn't FEEL like a history lesson. I've watched it scores of times, and I just marvel over the characterization, from John Adams to John Hancock to Dr. Lymon Hall (new delegate from Georgia). My friend Kate says when she gets to heaven, if Ben Franklin doesn't look and act EXACTLY like Howard da Silva, she's going to be really disappointed!
In school, I read about the Revolution. As a native Virginian, I learned all about Jefferson and the 'Lees of Old Virginia'. When I went to Boston, I visited Adams' house, and I spent hours walking around Philadelphia. I also majored in history in college. I suppose some could argue that I am predisposed to favor a movie like this since I'm already a history nut, but I can promise you that 1776 can turn anyone on to history.
I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to be entertained while learning something....or is it learning something while being entertained?
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Will someone..., July 4, 2002
By 
Kathy (Oak Park, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1776 (Restored Director's Cut) (DVD)
One of my favorite movies is finally available on DVD, and all I can wonder is, "What took so long?"
The director (of both the Broadway production and the film) was able to restore more than 25 minutes that had been sliced away by the producer, Jack Warner, immediately before the film's release, so we can now see the film as he intended it to be seen. Most of the moments restored are relatively minor, but there are extended passages that reflect many of the arguments both for and against independence that Warner viewed as "too political," as well as the long-lost "Cool, Considerate Men" number cut because of Pres. Nixon's protest of the song's portrayal of conservatives.
Both the director and the writer of both movie and play were brought in for the commentary for this extended edition, and they just don't stop talking! However, there are quite long stretches when all that's being said is the writer summing up the plot and reciting some lines along with the actor(s) (about 25-30 percent of the commentary is just this, unfortunately). Both participants do have some very interesting stories to relate, mostly about the production of the play (Howard Da Silva was rather incorrigible and stubborn), and the director does contribute many details about the mechanics of filming the long shots throughout the movie. They do acknowledge the recent popularity of John Adams, and (correctly, IMO) trace much of this interest back to their play/movie.
Another plus are screen tests of five of the Broadway stars that were cast in the movie (most of the cast recreated their roles in this film, at Warner's request), as well as the original teaser trailer.
The best extra of this entire disc, though, is the fact that it is in widescreen! I purchased the video last year, and was highly disappointed that it was only available in pan&scan, which really wrecks this movie's rhythm and flow. It was a true delight to actually see Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams all in the same shot during "The Egg" number.
The only problems that I could see with the print used for this transfer was white spotting (particularly obvious during the darker moments, especially "Mama, Look Sharp" and "Is Anybody There?") and a few moments of prismatic lighting at the edge of the frame during an early Congressional chamber scene.
This movie spearheaded my lifelong fascination with the Adams family and the Revolutionary War, and I am just thrilled that it is now available in this fantastic form!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Restoration!, July 8, 2002
By 
Alwyn L. Featherston (Durham, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1776 (Restored Director's Cut) (DVD)
Wow!
I just finished watching the DVD and all I can say is that if you haven't seen the restored version, you haven't seen the film.
I've always loved this musical, but this DVD has three great advantages over the VHS and TV versions we've been watching for the last 30 years.
First, it's presented in widescreen, rather than pan and scan -- which is a huge advantage considering the visual composition of the film.
Second, the sound on this DVD is remastered Dolby stereo (for some reason Columbia originally released it in mono). You can imagine that it makes a bit of difference to a musical to actually be in stereo.
Third-- and most importantly -- it contains approximately 25 minutes of restored footage (seamlessly restored by the original director, by the way). Some of the additions are minor, but I especially like the restoration of Adams' exchange with Abby listing her faults (which adds resonance to the final exchange when Abby responds to John's list of its own faults) and, of course, the restoration of the "Cool Considerate Men" number -- a very important political statement which was removed by Jack Warner for political reasons (another example of why Richard Nixon was such a creep).
I enjoyed the commentary by director Peter Hunt and writer Peter Stone, but this would be a knockout even without it. It may not be the greatest music ever written for the American stage, but it's a great bit of historic recreation. While Stone and composer Sherman Edwards twiddle a few historical facts (as a North Carolinian, I've always been dismayed by my state's treatment ... North Carolina was, in fact, the first state to instruct its delegates to support independence and not a toady for South Carolina), they do manage to recreate the drama that even serious historians agree created the "Miracle in Philadelphia."
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood's last really great musical, May 26, 2005
By 
M2 (Glendale, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1776 (Restored Director's Cut) (DVD)
The top-notch score and book for Broadway's "1776" have been unjustly forgotten over the years (to put it another way, how many times does Broadway have to revive "Oklahoma" before putting a new production of this on its feet), and the film lovingly recreates the musical with deft, striking cinematic touches. Most of the Broadway cast has been retained, particularly William Daniels, Ken Howard and Howard Da Silva, all of whom are brilliant as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, respectively. Among the new-to-the-movie performances, Blythe Danner is an absolute delight as Martha Jefferson and John Cullum's rendition of "Molasses to Rum to Slaves," which hammers the hypocrisy of the Northern colonial abolitionists who still profited from the slave trade is staggering. Truth is, there isn't a bad performance, singing or acting, in this entire film. The sets of 18th century Philadelphia are wonderfully evocative and the lighting and camera work, particularly some brilliantly s-l-o-o-o-o-w-w-w-w lap dissolves, are terrific. Probably in any other year, this film would have been well represented at the Oscars (but it came out against "The Godfather"). What makes the DVD so special is not just the pristine look of the film, but the restoration of several scenes, long and short, which had never before been seen, including one entire number ("Cool Conservative Men") which gave Richard Nixon, then president, fits. Watch it, particularly the choreography, and you'll know why. Even better is the very incisive and informative commentary track, which actually gives insight into the production. Whether you're a history buff or just a movie buff, you should own this film.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So I'm not the only one who LOVES 1776..., April 8, 2001
By 
DonnaRN "donnarncen" (North Kingstown, RI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 1776 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I got to see 1776 in Radio City in 1972 when it first opened and then saw it at least 5 more times while it was in release. To say it's my favorite is like saying the Red Sox are chokers (sorry fellow Sox fans but it's true!). I finally got the video a few years ago and have watched it over and over and now my 17 year old nephew even likes it! I've always loved American history but even the best teacher cannot show you all that must have gone on for our nation to be born. The drama along with the humor and the humanity of the men involved are wonderfully portrayed in this movie. If anyone thinks a group of men suddenly decided to sign a paper saying the that America was a free nation in 1776 they need to see this. The struggles of men, some ordinary, others more influential such as Franklin, Jefferson and Adams are riveting as they come to life in this movie. The main focus is Adams, often branded as "obnoxious and disliked" but respected by his peers, Jefferson and Franklin as well as men such as Hancock and Lee. He is committed to American freedom, and in the rousing opening song we see what he is up against as he implores everyone to vote for independence. His struggles, personal and professional, are brought to life as we see him talking to his dearest friend Abigail and later questioning himself. As he comes to the realization that he cannot have both American freedom and a continent free of slavery we feel what must have been for Adams a time of serious soul searching. His personal vision of America, given in the song, Commitment, is one of my favorite parts of the movie, where he says "I see fireworks - I see the pomp and parade - I hear the bells ringing out - I hear the cannons roar - I see Americans , all Americans, free, forevermore!" John Adams may not have realized it but his words (and the song does take many of them from his letters to Abigail and his private writings)come to life every 4th of July, especially on the Esplanade in Boston!! If you really want to see what he envisioned go to Boston on the 4th for the Pops concert, take in the magnificent fireworks and then if you are still awake, pop 1776 in the VCR - or see the tape before you go. Whether you are interested in music, history or just entertainment, 1776 fits the bill nicely. I recommend it highly!
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1776  (Restored Director's Cut)
1776 (Restored Director's Cut) by Peter H. Hunt (DVD - 2007)
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