If you watch a Chinese film these days, you’ll notice they mix Hollywood swagger with patriotic messages that trumpet the tyrannical Communist party. They make no bones about it.

But today’s American Hollywood fare, by comparison, would rather apologize for our country’s sins, both real and imagined, than sing its praises.

That wasn’t always the case.

Once upon a time, many American-made movies saluted the red, white, and blue without apology. You just have to dial back the calendar a few years to find them. Here are 15 iconic patriotic movie moments in American film that you won’t find in most of today’s woke blockbusters. 

“Patton” (1970)

George C. Scott’s indelible performance as General George S. Patton earned him an Oscar for Best Actor and a place in Hollywood lore. The film is riveting and Scott’s “Americans Love a Winner” speech captures the general at his blunt best. The moment, replete with military iconography, finds Scott addressing an unseen group of soldiers in front of the biggest American flag you could imagine.“Americans love a winner, and will not tolerate a loser,” he barks.

It’s a treatise on American exceptionalism that would most likely be deemed “problematic” today.

“Superman II” (1980)

Sadly, today’s Man of Steel no longer fights for “truth, justice and the American way.” But back in the 1980’s, Christopher Reeve’s hero did precisely that. Having defeated a trio of his planet’s bad guys, the Krypton native helps restore some of the damage done by their reign. This includes Superman personally flying an American flag back to the White House.“Sorry I was away for so long. I won’t let you down again,” the hero says to the Commander in Chief after returning the White House’s roof, with flag attached, to its rightful place.

“The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006)

This fact-based drama is a love letter to the American dream. Will Smith’s character is a single dad desperate to make a better life for himself on behalf of his son. When he lands the broker’s gig he’s been praying to snag,  he celebrates the fruits of his impossibly hard work silently amidst a crowded big-city sidewalk. The music swells, he claps his hands, and the smile on his face says it all: hard work pays off in America. That moment, along with a stirring speech to his son on the American dream make this flick’s patriotic elements, though subtle, stand out. “If you got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it.”

“Independence Day” (1996)

There’s plenty to cheer about this blockbuster, from Will Smith’s heroism to seeing those invading aliens get their comeuppance. But nothing tops Bill Pullman’s goosebump-raising speech as the American president rallying his nation against impossible odds.

“We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night!” We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”

“Red Dawn” (1984)

This  all-American affair directed by conservative auteur John Millius is one of Hollywood’s most red-meat movies. The young “Wolverines” battle back against a Soviet invasion, and while many lives are lost, the American spirit endures.

The final scene shows a monument to the heroes who repelled the Soviet invaders. The inscription reads, “In the early days of World War III, guerrillas – mostly children – placed the names of their lost upon this rock. They fought here alone and gave up their lives, so “that this nation shall not perish from the earth,” echoing President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. 

“Rocky IV” (1985)

Sylvester Stallone’s Cold War-era sequel is patriotic down to the hero’s boxing trunks. But nothing tops the moment following Rocky Balboa’s improbable victory when he rallies his “enemies” to applaud his win. Everyone in the hall, down to an actor playing USSR Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, applauds the plucky American draped in his country’s flag.

“The Avengers” (2012)

Captain America is a relic from another era–literally. But his experience as a World War II super soldier comes in handy when a god from another planet seeks to conquer Earth. Loki, memorably played by Tom Hiddleston, lectures a crowd cowed by his mystical powers. He instructs them to kneel, but one elderly man refuses. The super villan prepares to punish him, when Captain America steps in, shield in hand.“The last time I was in Germany and saw a man standing above everyone else we ended up disagreeing,” Captain America says before his fellow Avengers rally to his side. The suit. The memories of World War II. The courage to stare down bullies, even those more powerful than you can imagine. It’s patriotic through and through. 

“Miracle” (2004)

Any movie depicting the U.S. Olympic hockey team beating the USSR qualifies as a patriotic must-see film. Focus on the speech coach Herb Brooks gives to his team before the biggest game of their lives. “Tonight we … are the greatest hockey team in the world,” Kurt Russell’s coach tells his young players. “You were born to be hockey players … this is your time. They’re time is done. They’re over.” Did he mean the Soviet squad … or the Soviet Union?

“Armageddon” (1998)

Spoiler alert: the U.S. saves the world from an asteroid streaking straight to earth in this super-sized spectacle. That’s enough to merit the film’s inclusion here, but one comical sequence finds Bruce Willis’ character listing the demands his team has for risking everything to stop the asteroid. 

One would-be hero wants his two friends to be granted U.S. citizenship. Another wants to visit the White House. The topper? “One more thing. None of them wanna pay taxes again,” Willis’ blue-collar hero says with a straight face to Billy Bob Thornton.

“The Patriot” (2000)

Now, you can’t go wrong with a title like that. Arguably the most rousing moment of this film about the American Revolution comes when Mel Gibson’s character, in the heat of a major battle, realizes his rag-tag army is losing hope. “No retreat!” he cries, grabbing an American flag and heading straight at the enemy with only the flagpole to protect him. In glorious slow motion, Gibson waves the fledgling country’s symbol while his fellow soldiers find their second wind.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939)

From his indelible film work to his heroism during World War II, Jimmy Stewart was as American as apple pie. This classic film finds him as the ultimate Everyman fighting a system that too often works against the people. Yes, it’s patriotic to challenge your country, especially if you’re doing so from a just and constitutional place. 

In the most iconic scene Stewart’s character, a freshman Senator, reminds us how the American ideal is always within reach. “And this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light; they’re right here! You just have to see them again,” Jefferson Smith says.

“Patriots Day” (2016)

This film follows the true story behind the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers. It’s one of the least-appreciated films in recent memory, but it’s a keeper from start to finish. Need some all-American goose bumps? Watch when Mark Wahlberg, playing a cop trying to root out the fleeing bombers, is asked if anyone could have prevented the atrocity. That isn’t the point, the beat cop argues: “The only weapon you have to fight back with is love. That’s the only thing he can’t touch … I don’t think there’s any way that they can ever win.”

“The Sandlot” (1993)

This kid classic is the best advertisement for America’s national pastime. It also packs a patriotic punch during a scene set on (when else?), the Fourth of July. We see these young sluggers doing what they love best – playing baseball at night as Ray Charles croons, “America the Beautiful” in the backdrop. The only lights required to cut through the inky sky? The fireworks exploding up above.

“We Were Soldiers” (2002)

Here’s Mel Gibson, again, this time as  Lt. Col. Hal Moore, a soldier  in the Vietnam War. He rallies his troops during one perilous moment by reminding them who they are and why they’re all Americans. Yes, discrimination may be raging back home during the tumultuous ‘60s, he says, but on the battlefield they’re all equal:

“I can’t promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear before you and before almighty God. That when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field and I will be the last one to stop off. And I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me, God.”

“Network” (1976)

This satire stars Peter Finch as a troubled news anchor at the end of his emotional rope. Its most notable line is feisty, unrelenting, and American to its core. Finch rages against corporate slime: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” It’s Free Speech 101, the notion that Americans don’t have to simply stand for bullies and blowhards but can do something about it by speaking up.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...