10 Best Movies About American History
Looking for the 10 best movies about American history? When you stop to think about it, the U.S. has had quite a colorful history for such a relatively young nation. Let's take a look at the best of the historical films that document America's past.
- "The Crucible" (1996). Few got inside the American mind better than Arthur Miller, and this film, set during the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1632, is far scarier than, say, "Death of a Salesman." Not coincidentally, Miller originally wrote this play in the '50s, which you may recall was the time of McCarthyism, a witch hunt of an altogether different variety.
- "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992). The French and Indian War in upstate New York was not America's proudest moment. James Fenimore Cooper first captured this period in his book of the same name, and Daniel Day Lewis (among others) brought Fenimore's immortal words to life.
- "Gone with the Wind" (1939). Maybe you consider this Vivian Leigh/Clark Gable film a glorified soap opera. But frankly, you should give a damn, because this films dramatizes the Civil War in ways few films have before or since.
- "Little Big Man" (1970). Clearly, this country got a lot of things wrong when it came to dealing with Indians. This best movie about American history stars Dustin Hoffmann in a film about the Indian wars on the Great Plains during the 19th century.
- "The Grapes of Wrath" (1940). To this day, Bruce Springsteen still sings songs inspired by Steinbeck's pivotal book about America's great western migration. Director John Ford hit it right on the nail, and Henry Fonda steals the show in this best movie about American history.
- "Patton" (1970). For better or worse, a nation's history is written with its wars. So it should come as no surprise that many of the best historical American films have military themes. This one takes place during World War II, and gave George C. Scott perhaps his greatest role.
- "The Right Stuff" (1983). These days, we take for granted that ships can be sent into space. So if you've forgotten how significant this part of American history was, this film will jog your proudest memories. Like the astronauts it salutes, this film has all the right stuff.
- "Woodstock" (1970). I know it's only rock & roll, but I like it. Ah, but Woodstock was about much more than mere music. It signified a significant change in American history; a time where young people truly began to flex their political muscle.
- "Apocalypse Now" (1979). There have been many Vietnam movies made, but few captured how strange and scary that jungle war was better than Francis Ford Coppola did with this one. You'll never love the smell of napalm in the morning after being dragged kicking and screaming through this sordid period of American history.
- "All the President’s Men" (1976). This movie is all about the president that was almost impeached. Attitudes have softened a bit towards Richard M. Nixon since this one was made. This movie changed the way all of use looked at politicians. From then on, everybody was looked on with suspicion.