Celebrate Independence Day with some fine film ideas from the editors at Pursuitist. These are not simply patriotic films, but films that employ the 4th of July as a key element of the plot.

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
James Cagney soars in this hokey but utterly wonderful biopic of legendary composer and performer George M. Cohen. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, with Cagney winning for Best Actor for his tour de force performance.

Independence Day (1996)
July 4 – the day we fight back. Silly and ridiculous, but also funny and fun. Will Smith is at his wise-cracking best as the world fights off an alien invasion. Solid supporting cast including Bill Pullman, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Harry Connick Jr., Randy Quaid and Jeff Goldblum.

Rocky (1976)
Sylvester Stallone made himself into a star in this stirring, and surprisingly sweet, film about a small-time boxer who gets a chance to fight the heavy-weight champ in a bicentennial bout. This is the ultimate underdog movie with romance, redemption and a roaring finale. The film would capture three academy awards, including Best Picture.

1776 (1972)
This film version of the groundbreaking Broadway musical that chronicles the people and events that led to the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Born on the 4th of July (1989)
This is probably the anti-4th of July movie for some. But Oliver Stone’s biography of Ron Kovic, who is paralyzed in the Vietnam war, and goes on to become and anti-war and human rights activist, is moving and effective. Cruise is wonderful as Kovic.