The country was still reeling from Pearl Harbor when this look at the life of George M. Cohan—arguably the most patriotic songwriter ever—provided the Stars and Stripes salve our nation needed. (That Michael Curtiz’s rah-rah film premiered less than a week after Memorial Day was far from coincidental.) It’s an aggressive, toe-tapping ode to the red, white and blue that has everything: James Cagney in full-blown hoofer mode, pro-USA sentiment as thick as hasty pudding, and musical numbers less subtle than a ticker-tape parade led by Uncle Sam. Only baseball and apple pie can be considered more American than this.
For a relatively safe industry, Hollywood has gone out of its way to celebrate good old American patriotism—and not in the most obvious ways either. In the following 4th of July movies, the idea of national pride is examined, torn down and reconstructed. Some of these films have won Academy Awards, some are blockbuster summer movies, one’s a sports movie and one could even be called sci-fi. Collectively, they are the most patriotic movies of all time.
RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the 4th of July in NYC