The best movies to watch on the Fourth of July

(WHNT) – How do you celebrate the Fourth of July? Most Americans would likely say a cookout, a parade, or an amazing fireworks display. However, there are plenty of patriotic films to watch that celebrate the holiday without breaking the budget at the fireworks platform.

Even if you’re blowing out the fireworks, movies like “Top Gun” and “Air Force One” provide a chance to settle on the couch with a great movie — after all the festivities.

News 19 has compiled a list of All-American films to help celebrate the birthday of the USA.

Honor mentions: The Musical Man (1962), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Glory (1989), Patriots (2000), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)


Tom Cruise poses for the media during the UK premiere of Top Gun Maverick at a cinema in central London, Thursday, May 19, 2022 (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
  • Release date: May 16, 1986
  • Director: Tony Scott
  • spit: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt
  • Did you know? The real-life Top Gun School, founded in 1969 in California, imposes a $5 fine on any employee who quotes from the 1986 movie.

Mr. Smith goes to Washington

Actor Jimmy Stewart, star of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Fingerprints of Sergeant. Frank Zapata enlisting in the US Army Air Force, in Los Angeles, California, March 22, 1941 (AP Photo)
  • Release date: October 17, 1939
  • Director: Frank Capra
  • spit: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains
  • Did you know? Many of the outside scenes in the film were deemed illegal. Specifically, scenes in which James Stewart wanders around Washington, D.C. were deemed “stolen” after US park services refused permission for a studio to film near them.

their own league

Photographers wait for the shot as Madonna arrives at the Ziegfeld Theater for the opening of “A League Of Their Own” in New York, June 25, 1992. The film, directed by Penny Marshall, stars Madonna, Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, Jon Lovitz, Rosie O’Donnell and Laurie Petty. (AP Photo/Luis Ribeiro)
  • Release date: July 1, 1992
  • Director: Penny Marshall
  • spit: Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, Madonna, Laurie Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Straitarn, Garry Marshall, Bill Pullman
  • Did you know? The film’s famous slogan, “There’s no crying in baseball,” was chosen as the 54th film of all time by the American Film Institute.

Air Force One

American actor Harrison Ford and German director Wolfgang Petersen at the premiere of their new movie “Air Force One” at Cinema Corso Zurich on Sunday, October 26, 1997 (AP Photo/PATRICK KRAEMER)
  • Release date: 25 July 1997
  • Director: Wolfgang Petersen
  • spit: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Croson, Paul Gilfoyle, William H. Macy, Liesel Matthews, Dean Stockwell
  • Did you know? Originally, German director Wolfgang Petersen was denied permission to use the real Air Force One in the film. Harrison Ford called the White House and this was corrected.

hidden characters

Janelle Mooney, Octavia Spencer, and Taraji B. Henson and producers Pharrell Williams and Jenno Topping are seen performing “Hidden Characters” live at TIFF 2016 on Saturday, September 10, 2016 in Toronto. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Twentieth Century Fox/AP Images)
  • Release date: December 25, 2016
  • Director: Theodore Melffy
  • spit: Taraji B. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Mooney, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Glenn Powell
  • Did you know? It was Katherine Johnson, who was portrayed in the film by Taraji B. Henson, the only member of the “Hidden Characters” trio who lived to see the movie. She was 98 years old when she was cast in 2016.

Independence Day

Will Smith, in military uniform, the ‘Independence Day’ star poses for a photo with fellow cast members, left to right, Vivica Fox, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Smith, singer Harry Konnick Jr., and German director/executive producer Roland Emmerich During the film’s premiere in the Los Angeles section of Westwood Tuesday, June 25, 1996 (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
  • Release date: July 3, 1996
  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • spit: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Cullen, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rayburn, Harvey Ferstein
  • Did you know? Despite competing with many other space movies, “Independence Day” was the highest-grossing movie of 1996.

forrest gump

Tom Hanks confesses to his wife as he leaves his seat at Shrine Auditorium, March 27, 1995 to accept the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in Forrest Gump at the 67th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Associated Press/Michael Caulfield)
  • Release date: 6 July 1994
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • spit: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mylty Williamson, Sally Field
  • Did you know? Despite critical acclaim and an Academy Award win, Tom Hanks wasn’t paid for his role in “Forrest Gump.” Instead of a salary, he earned percentage points, eventually earning about $40 million.

and free

A general view shows the filming location of the 1993 movie The Sandlot, Saturday, October 3, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Associated Press/Julio Cortez)
  • Release date: 7 April 1993
  • Director: David Mickey Evans
  • spit: Tom Jerry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Reina, Chauncey Leopardi, Marty York, Brandon Adams, Grant Gilt, Shane Obedzinsky, Victor Dematia, Dennis Leary, Karen Allen, James Earl Jones
  • Did you know? Each “Sandlot” kid wears either Converse Chuck Taylors or BF Flyers throughout the movie.

Saving Private Ryan

Los Angeles – July 24: “Saving Private Ryan” directed by Steven Spielberg. Shown here from the front, from left, Barry Pepper (as Private Jackson), Tom Hanks (as Captain John Miller), and Matt Damon (as Private James Francis Ryan). Theatrical release July 24, 1998. Screen capture. Paramount photo. (CBS photo via Getty Images)
  • Release date: July 24, 1998
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • spit: Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Jeremy Davis, Vin Diesel
  • Did you know? Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon in the movie because at the time, he was a relatively unknown actor with all-American looks. Before this movie was shown, Damon won an Academy Award for “Good Will Hunting,” thereby defeating the purpose of his casting.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

FILE-In This March 4, 1943 photo, actor Jimmy Cagney, left, congratulates Gary Cooper after receiving an Oscar statuette for Best Actor for his role in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at the 1942 Academy Awards at Cocoanut Grove, the Ambassador Hotel, In Los Angeles. Auctioneer Nate D. Sanders will sell an Oscar statuette of Kanye to the highest bidder on November 20, 2014 (AP Photo/John T. Burns, File)
  • Release date: June 6, 1942
  • Director: Michael Kurtz
  • spit: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Heston, Richard Whorf
  • Did you know? This Jimmy Cagney won the Academy Award for Best Actor. With this win, he became the first actor to win an Academy Award for a musical performance.

Did we miss your favorite 4th of July movie? Tell us what’s your favorite Independence Day, National or All-American movie by sending it to!

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