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Showing 1-10 of 956 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,410 reviews
on May 20, 2015
At last available on Blu-Ray, 1776 is Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone’s unique musical on the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The straightforward Columbia film version, directed by Peter H. Hunt – repeating his stage duties – captures the essence of its source with a top notch cast mostly returning from the Broadway stage, including William Daniels as John Adams, Howard Da Silva as Ben Franklin and Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson.

There have been numerous cuts of “1776,” starting with a 141-minute theatrical version producer Jack L. Warner supervised, one that removed the song “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,” arbitrarily trimmed a pair of others and discarded various dialogue exchanges. It was also released in mono. Pioneer’s Special Edition laserdisc from the early ‘90s restored all the missing bits, some from a rough B&W workprint, plus remastered the soundtrack in stereo for the first time. This 177-minute version, which Hunt signed off on at the time, came complete with an “editorially created” Overture and Intermission and has been the preferred choice for die-hards fans of the film, even after Hunt’s DVD “Director’s Cut” debuted a decade ago. The latter Hunt reworking ran 165 minutes but missed several components of the longer version, including the unexpurgated versions of early songs “Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve” and “The Lees of Old Virginia.”

Sony’s highly anticipated new Blu-Ray restores the “Piddle, Twiddle” and “Lees” numbers to their full length for the first time in HD – and since their laserdisc appearance – in a new “Extended Version” running 168 minutes. This version, exclusive to the Blu-Ray, is missing the controversial Overture/Intermission but only about a minute of actual footage from the laserdisc (a shot of Jefferson looking out a window at a little girl; Lyman Hall walking into Congress; and brief footage of a lamplighter at work while Franklin steals a piece of fruit from a Philadelphia market). Subsequently, this new edition should satisfy many viewers as it finally includes all the unexpurgated musical material from the picture in a beautiful 4K mastered transfer.

It should be noted, however, that those missing bits are not included in this disc’s deleted scenes section, making that old Pioneer release still a valuable one for collectors. Instead, Sony’s deleted scenes section merely includes the “Piddle Twiddle” and “Lees” extended bits separately with Hunt’s commentary, along with an a cleaned-up line of dialogue, “Privy,” that has been replaced for this edit. Sony’s Blu-Ray also includes Hunt’s 165-minute “Director’s Cut,” and it should be noted several sections of Ray Heindorf’s sometimes unnecessary underscore have been removed – with one restoration from the DVD version – here, again making the Pioneer laserdisc edition relevant for fans.

The 1080p (2.40) high-def transfer offers a colorful, marvelously detailed 4K image, and the 5.1 DTS MA stereo audio bears the widest channel separation heard since the laserdisc release. Extra features, in addition to the underwhelming deleted scenes, include a new, only sporadically interesting commentary with Hunt, Daniels and Howard, plus the DVD’s commentary with Hunt and Peter Stone, who has since passed on. A full array of screen tests, several seen here for the first time, and a pair of trailers round out a must-have release for “1776″ fans, available June 2nd from Sony with a digital copy also on-hand. Bravo!
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on September 4, 2017
A terrific reconstruction of the convention which determined the structure of the new nation's government. The Faustian bargain whereby the southern colonies voted for independence as long as their slaves remained their property has been called the original sin of the American nation, and its effects are still felt. Should Franklin and Jefferson et al have made that agreement? Or should they have chosen instead to form a smaller nation without slavery? Or even have remained British? Those are issues which, it seems, will never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction, but they are made dramatically clear in this fine film. As for the music, there is less of it than I had anticipated, and while it fits the time and place well enough, you don't finish the film humming any of the melodies. But it doesn't get in the way of the drama, either, and helps in delineating the different characters of this large, almost entirely male cast. In the end, all my reservations are minor; this is a wonderful film that every American should see - and foreigners could learn a lot about our country if they watched it too.
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This movie is wonderful and William Daniels is perfect as John Adams. I highly recommend the film to introduce your children to American history in a thoroughly enjoyable way. It will spark their imaginations to want to know more about the founding fathers & mothers. The text is great and the characters come alive in the hands of Ken Howard, John Cullum and Howard di Silva as well as the stand-out performance by the aforementioned William Daniels. I also recommend you listen to the musical Hamilton which Amazon has on CD and get to know William Daniels, age 90 now, a little bit better through this biography, "There I Go Again" available also on Amazon. Immerse yourself in the thrilling times at the beginning of our Republic and then get a coy of The US Constitution for a good summer read - also available on Amazon.
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on July 9, 2015
Excellent capsule of the beginning of the American Revolution in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Full of patriotic fervor, southern outrage, wit, satire, and a very determined John Adams driving the delegate rodeo. Funny and haunting songs, frontline letters from GW beseeching action, letters from sweethearts and wives at home, dithering politicians and some unforgettable founding characters such as Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Reed, Rodney, Rutledge and others are brought to life. Actual revolution and the future founding of a new nation lay in the balance during a sweltering, fly bitten, lonely, culture starved, and monotonous spring and summer of 1776. The revolution that the patriots wanted to redress their grievances with King George almost didn't happen. Find out why and see for yourself by renting or purchasing the movie. I do declare, it was an excellent film adaptation of the Broadway stage play.
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on July 5, 2017
Have always loved this play and the film does it great justice-- mainly because they cast the seasoned and brilliant actors ( John Cullum, William Daniel, Howard DaSylva etc) from Broadway, also because they wisely recreated the Independance Hall bway set where almost all the action takes place. Also they use theatrical stage lighting on many songs. The script is excellent and music fitting and gorgeous. It's a lesson in American History that fits in 2 or so hours. However---I was disappointed this version did not include the notes at the end that told the viewer what happened to all the men historically, nor did it include the credits. Why I wonder, was those omitted??
Still riveting and gets better each time you watch it.
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on August 25, 2015
The Blu-ray is the best presentation I've seen of the movie that was derived for the original stage musical play that premiered on Broadway in 1969. Most of the original Broadway cast are in the film. The wonderful sets are presented so clearly that I could make out details that I didn't even notice in the 1972 movie. It's a bit of comedy, a bit of drama, and lot of really great songs, perfectly performed by a cast with the experience of well over a thousand presentations in live theater. And it *is* the historical tale of the incredible struggle of a handful of American patriots to get the Continental Congress to declare independence from Great Britain.

While the outline of events and personalities in "1776" is historically accurate, this is a movie presentation of the original musical stage play, and it does not pretend to be slavishly faithful to historical detail. Some silly historical nits for those who care about such things: For instance, Martha Jefferson never came to Washington, DC; but Thomas Jefferson did go home to visit her in Virginia before returning to write the Declaration of Independence. William Daniels is brilliant as John Adams, but I suppose a historically accurate movie would have chosen an actor who is chubbier wore a white wig. Richard Henry Lee was, of course, far nobler than the rough buffoon of the film, James Wilson was not nearly the wimpy loser we see, and there were a lot more men involved in the Continental Congress than can be depicted in a stage play.
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on July 5, 2015
Bottom Line: This has been a favorite musical since I first saw it on stage in the 1970's. I have for years listened to one version or another every 4th of July. We had lost our previous version and in many ways I like this one better. The Director's Cut of 1776 is closer to the original stage production and will be better when that gap is finally closed. I found some problems in the sound during the early moments. Another review leads me to believe that this was due to the difficulties in restoring some of the songs. This is neither a perfect musical nor perfect history but is it wonderful entertainment. It has some very powerful moments. 1776 is painless learning at worst and a more than a legitimate effort to breathe life into American History.

To say that that this musical is loosely based on David McCullough's 1776 is not exactly a disservice to either item. Both are worthy additions to any home. Let us say rather that this is a charming anachronism. McCullough's masterful history of The Formative moment in American and world history was published in 2005. The musical (music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards the text by Peter Stone) was on the stage in 1969. It debuted on the boards of The 46th Street Theater in New York and ran for almost exactly 3 years, over 1217 performances. (Source Playbill)

The Director's cut is almost the original version with one of the most important improvements being the restoration of the song Cool, Cool Considerate Men. This song was so hated by then President Nixon that White House pressure forced it out of many versions and even original recording disks and tapes were destroyed.
Truth is there is a slight lean to the left in this musical and this song comes down hard on the typical idea of the moneyed classes. While we are on the topic, there is some mildly spicy language and a few disguised sexual references. I refuse to say that this movie is not family friendly but the oaths are repeated as are references to love lives, boozing and the products there of. All of this is in historic context and appropriate to both the times and the topics.

1776 begins as a comedy. Congress is a piddling, trivial debating society and John Adams ( William Danials) is obnoxious and disliked. Howard De Silva as sage and humorous commentator Ben Franklin is a match up that defies genetic testing. The duets between Abigal Adams (Virginia Vestoff ) and John are more than touching, based as they are on the real correspondence between the historic husband and wife.

At some point the musical moves into the more serious topic and loses much of its breezy by play. Members of the Congress have personal issues. Georgia Represented, Dr. Lyman Hall (Jonathan Moore) must choose between what he knows to be public opinion in Georgia and what he knows to be the right decision. The correspondence from the otherwise unseen George Washington culminates with the powerful, song for the dying colonial soldiers Momma Look Sharp sung by the young, spare voice of Stephen Nathan. And finally Congress must come the issue that forces all present to look deep into themselves. Slavery.

John Cullum as the haughty, unbending Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, sings Molasses to Rum to Slave; the infamous triangle trade that implicates the sanctimonious, anti-slavery New Englanders as the carriers and profiteers of the slave trade. This song can be very hard to hear. It must be heard. The play all but stops here, as history almost came to a stop. Either the Congress dissolves trying to force closure on the hard facts of slavery, or there a nation is to be formed by looking away from its own lack of freedom. This will not be the last compromise of principle.

1776 is a superior effort to teach history with music. It belongs in any home with a love for the musical, Americana or needing a July 4 tradition separate from the fireworks.
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on September 17, 2015
I really like this musical, although it plays fast and loose with some of the historical realities of the vote on independence (for instance, keeping or removing the clause on slavery wasn't nearly the crisis the movie makes it out to be), and there is, frankly, something silly about making the Founding Fathers into song-and-dance men. Jefferson probably could have carried a tune, but I have my doubts about Ben Franklin and John Adams....

But I appreciate this story for a couple of important reasons. First, it brings the Fathers back to earth, de-mythologizing them and revealing them as the human beings they were; the characterizations as such are generally accurate. Second, it makes it clear that, as human beings, the Founding Fathers were uncertain, fumbling, feeling their way forward toward an uncertain future. They were engaged in a desperate business, fighting the world's greatest empire with almost nothing; they knew it, knew that the odds were against them, which only illuminates their courage. The movie does a good job depicting this.

Of the musical numbers, Momma Look Sharp is the best, and practically worth the price of admission by itself.

On the whole, I highly recommend this movie.
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on May 12, 2010
I saw this movie when it was first released many years ago. Ever since I've been impressed by the music and the spirit of the production. It brings together the many perspectives of the men who formed the Congress that created the Declaration of Independence. These were not a group of men with the same idea. They were men who came to the congress with their own particular ideas and ideals which they wanted to preserve. Some of the characters, Caesar Rodney and James Wilson are rather inaccurate but they add to the drama of the production. Edward Rutledge's performance of Molasses to Rum to Slaves is interesting, not to mention just a little chilling and illustrates the many perspectives of the participants at the congress. Howard de Silva and James Daniels are outstanding as Franklin and John Adams but all the actors by their performances add tremendously to the production.

If there is any particulary impressive scene that might strike a note with today, it is Washington's last despatch to The Congress - wherein he asks for the status of a reply to his previous despatches and ends with "Is anybody there, does anybody care?" and Thompson, the Secretary of the Congress, feels that Washington is talking to him. One might say the same of Congress today.

Although it has historical inaccuracies I would highly recommend this film to all to get a different perspective as to the creation of the United States.
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on August 3, 2015
I simply love this film.

The Colonial/Revolutionary period of US history is my favorite, and seeing everyone in period clothing and going about historic buildings is really a fascinating sight to me. The humor of the film is also incredibly charming, especially Howard Da Silva's Benjamin Franklin, though one might find John Adams to be a close second.

But it isn't all fun and games: the issue of freedom from England and of open warfare weighs heavily, and not everyone is willing to go that route. Arguments and even fights break out, and you get a taste of how rife with discord the colonies were back then, trying to decide their identity and future.

The singing is superb, and the songs creatively done (and you will very likely find yourself perhaps singing along a little, or at the very least you'll get a laugh out of the lyrics as some songs are quite comedic).

While this is a longer film (The Lord of the Rings isn't the only three-hour tour), it is definitely worth seeing. It isn't totally historically accurate (for one thing, the delegates did not all sign at the same time, and Hancock's real reason for signing so large isn't what the film asserts), but it is very much a priceless piece of cinematic and American history.
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