American War Movies

Surprisingly, there is a dearth of good American war movies. Studios have made films about the Revolutionary War on a regular basis going all the way back to the silent film era, but few of them have received much critical acclaim, and most of them have been intensely criticized for ignoring the facts and presenting fiction as truth. Television is a different story. There have been a significant number of made-for-TV movies, TV series, miniseries, and documentaries that have been filmed for the small screen that are both factually accurate and well-made. Below are some of the few American Revolution movies produced for the big screen that are worth watching. 

  1. “The Patriot.” Mel Gibson plays a South Carolina veteran of the French and Indian War who wants no part of the American Revolution. But, when British troops burn his farm and murder his son, Gibson gets revenge by leading a militia force that uses guerrilla tactics to harass British forces. Gibson's character is primarily based on Francis Marion, the famed “Swamp Fox,” but it incorporates elements of other important Revolutionary War figures as well.

  2. “Drums Along the Mohawk.” Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert play a couple that settle a frontier farm in New York. During the war, their farm is burned, and they and the other settlers must fight off a series of attacks by Indians, Tories, and Redcoats. This American Revolution movie was based on a popular novel that was itself based on actual events. John Ford directed this excellent film and cast many actors from his stock company in it.

  3. “Johnny Tremain.” This American Revolution movie was also based on a classic historical novel. Hal Stalmaster plays the title character in this tale of a young apprentice silversmith who winds up fighting in the Revolutionary War's first battles.

  4. “John Paul Jones.” This film is a fictionalized account of the life of the Revolutionary War naval hero. While it contains numerous historical inaccuracies, this American Revolution movie, starring Robert Stack and Charles Coburn, still captures the essence of Jones as a tenacious and capable seaman.

  5. “The Devil's Disciple.” This intriguing film stars Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, and Laurence Olivier and is a film adaptation of a George Bernard Shaw play. Lancaster plays a minister who is also a patriot leader. Douglas plays a roguish character who is mistaken for the minister, captured by the British, and sentenced to be hanged. All the while, the minister's wife is falling in love with the rogue. This is a humorous and entertaining American Revolution movie that is often underrated.

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