1776: They sing! They dance! They debate the merits of independence from England!
There probably is nothing worse than being stuck anywhere near me when the movie of the musical "1776" is on TV, because I sing every word. Every. Single. Word. Here are some things l love about the movie:
- Made in 1972, it's edited in trendy late '60s/early '70s style, with weirdly timed quick cuts and inexplicable ping-ponging close ups. It's looks like it was edited by an earnest teenager who was going for a cross between French New Wave and "The Graduate."
- Even though the costumes and wigs are supposed to be 18th century, they definitely smack of "1770s as reimagined by 1970s." Sometimes it looks like the costume designer studied Paul Revere and the Raiders' onstage getups more than authentic 18th century pieces. It's great.
- You can learn how to make saltpetre if you pay careful attention to the lyrics.
- Benjamin Franklin is played by Howard Da Silva, an actor who was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s.
- The punchline to one joke is, "There must be some mistake. I have an aunt who lives in New Brunswick!"
- Although it compresses the timeline of events and combines some characters, the script does contain many quotes taken from actual letters and primary source accounts, including this favorite of mine from John Adams:
"Franklin did this, and Franklin did that, and Franklin did some other damn thing. Franklin smote the ground and out sprang George Washington - fully grown and on his horse. Franklin then electrified him with his miraculous lightning rod and the three of them, Franklin, Washington and the horse, conducted the entire revolution all by themselves."
Oh, John. Stop whining and sing.