Actors: William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard
Director: Peter H. Hunt
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Run Time: 142 minutes
History buffs and Broadway enthusiasts alike will find much to be admired in Blu-ray release of 1776, the 1972 film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. You kind of have to wonder though; did anyone suggest waiting another 4 years for the production, just to maximize relevance. And fans of “Boy Meets World” will enjoy seeing Mr. Feeny (William Daniels) act out the history instead of teaching it.
Beyond all of that is a film made in the 70s which almost feels as though it could have been made in the 1950s. It is classic storytelling and wonderful performances which have that timeless feel to them. I certainly didn’t expect to become so engaged by the 2 hrs and 40 minute film that is mostly a conversation about whether or not
America should declare their independence from .
At the center of this argument is John Adams (Daniels), a man so abrasive in his opinions about a revolution against
oppression that his pleas for declaration are on deaf ears within the
Continental Congress. Conspiring with Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva), they
get Richard Henry Lee (Ron Holgate) to submit a proposal, and the debate
begins. Eventually the declaration must be written, so that Congress can vote
on it. Through musical number, the responsibility falls on Thomas Jefferson
(Ken Howard), despite his pleas to return home to his wife, Martha (Blythe
In order to inspire him to write, Adams and Franklin send for Martha to join her husband. This is only one of the film’s romantic subplots, which also include the letters and songs shared by Adams and his wife, Abigail (Virginia Vestoff). Much of this material was taken from actual letters that
and his wife wrote during the days that the declaration was written. This is
helpful, because other than the need for female presence in the male-dominated
cast, it wouldn’t be a musical without a love song or two.
Mastered in 4K, the high definition presentation on the Blu-ray disc of 1776 looks fantastic, allowing for the details of the production design and costumes to be fully appreciated. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is an extended cut of the film, along with the director’s cut. Also only available on this disc is an all-new commentary track with director Peter H. Hunt, along with stars William Daniels and Ken Howard, 4 never-before-seen screen tests, and a handful of deleted and extended scenes. Also included and available on the DVD release is a commentary track with Hunt and screenwriter Peter Stone, as well as additional archival screen tests. The package also offers a Digital HD copy of the movie.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10
Historical Significance: 7.5/10