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The best films to watch on the Fourth of July

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

Even if you do break out the fireworks, films like “Top Gun” and “Air Force One” offer a chance to settle down on the couch with a great movie – after all the festivities.

News 19 compiled a list of All-American films to help celebrate the United States of America’s birthday.

Honorable mentions: The Music Man (1962), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), Glory (1989), The Patriot (2000), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

Top Gun

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

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Actor Jimmy Stewart, the star of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” is fingerprinted by Sgt. Frank Zapata at his induction into the U.S. Army Air Corps, in Los Angeles, Calif., March 22, 1941. (AP Photo)
  • Release Date: October 17, 1939
  • Director: Frank Capra
  • Cast: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains
  • Did you know? Several outdoor scenes in the film were deemed illegal. Specifically, the scenes where James Stewart wanders around Washington D.C. were considered “stolen” after the U.S. Parks Services denied permission to the studio to film near them.

A League of Their Own

The paparazzi wait for the shot as Madonna arrives at the Ziegfeld Theater for the opening of the film “A League Of Their Own” in New York, June 25, 1992. The movie, directed by Penny Marshall, stars Madonna, Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Jon Lovitz, Rosie O’Donnell and Lori Petty. (AP Photo/Luis Ribeiro)
  • Release Date: July 1, 1992
  • Director: Penny Marshall
  • Cast: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Straitharn, Garry Marshall, Bill Pullman
  • Did you know? The movie’s famous tagline, “There’s no crying in baseball,” was selected as the #54 movie quote of all time by the American Film Institute.

Air Force One

US actor Harrison Ford and German director Wolfgang Petersen during the premiere of their new movie “Air Force One” at the Zurich cinema Corso on Sunday, Oct. 26, 1997. (AP Photo/PATRICK KRAEMER)
  • Release Date: July 25, 1997
  • Director: Wolfgang Petersen
  • Cast: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Crewson, Paul Guilfoyle, William H. Macy, Liesel Matthews, Dean Stockwell
  • Did you know? Originally, German filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen was denied permission to use the real-life Air Force One in the movie. Harrison Ford called the White House and that was rectified.

Hidden Figures

Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Producers Pharrell Williams and Jenno Topping seen at “Hidden Figures” Live at the 2016 TIFF on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Toronto. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Twentieth Century Fox/AP Images)
  • Release Date: December 25, 2016
  • Director: Theodore Melfi
  • Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell
  • Did you know? Katherine Johnson, portrayed in the film by Taraji P. Henson, was the only member of the “Hidden Figures” trio to live to see the film. She was 98 years old when it came out in 2016.

Independence Day

Will Smith, wearing military fatigues, star of “Independence Day” poses for a photo with fellow cast members, from left to right, Vivica Fox, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Smith, singer Harry Connick Jr., and German director/executive producer/co-creator Roland Emmerich during the film’s premiere in the Westwood section of Los Angeles Tuesday, June 25, 1996. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
  • Release Date: July 3, 1996
  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Cast: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein
  • Did you know? Despite competing with several other space films, “Independence Day” was the highest grossing film of 1996.

Forrest Gump

Tom Hanks acknowledges his wife as he leaves his seat in the Shrine Auditorium, March 27, 1995 to accept his Oscar for best actor for his role in “Forrest Gump” at the 67th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield)
  • Release Date: July 6, 1994
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Cast: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field
  • Did you know? Despite critical acclaim and an Oscar win, Tom Hanks was not paid for his role in “Forrest Gump.” Instead of a salary, he took percentage points, ultimately earning him around $40 million.

The Sandlot

A general view shows the site of the filming of the movie The Sandlot, released in 1993, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • Release Date: April 7, 1993
  • Director: David Mickey Evans
  • Cast: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi, Marty York, Brandon Adams, Grant Gelt, Shane Obedzinski, Victor DiMattia, Denis Leary, Karen Allen, James Earl Jones
  • Did you know? Every “Sandlot” kid is wearing either Converse Chuck Taylors or P.F. Flyers throughout the movie.

Saving Private Ryan

LOS ANGELES – JULY 24: The movie “Saving Private Ryan”, directed by Steven Spielberg. Seen here in 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. A Paramount Picture. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
  • Release Date: July 24, 1998
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Cast: Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Jeremy Davies, Vin Diesel
  • Did you know? Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon in the film because at the time, he was a relative unknown actor with an All-American look. Before this movie came out, Damon won an Oscar for “Good Will Hunting,” thus defeating the purpose of his casting.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

FILE-In this March 4, 1943 file photo, actor Jimmy Cagney, left, is congratulated by Gary Cooper after receiving the best actor Oscar statuette for his role in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at the 1942 Academy Awards banquet at Cocoanut Grove, Ambassador Hotel, in Los Angeles. The auctioneer Nate D. Sanders will sell Cagney’s Oscar statuette to the highest bidder on November 20, 2014. (AP Photo/John T. Burns, File)
  • Release Date: June 6, 1942
  • Director: Michael Curtiz
  • Cast: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf
  • Did you know? This won Jimmy Cagney an Oscar for Best Actor. With that win, he became the first actor to win an Academy Award for a musical performance.

Did we miss your favorite Fourth of July movie? Tell us what your favorite Independence Day, patriotic, or All-American film is by submitting it to news@whnt.com!

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