Thursday, July 4, 2013

American History shorts again

I've briefly made mention of some of the two-reel Technicolor shorts that Warner Bros. made in the late 1930s looking at early American history. Today being July 4, it's a good time for them to come out of the woodwork again, and TCM is airing three of them consecutively, following Ah, Wilderness, which starts at 10:45 PM.

First up, at 12:28 AM, is Give Me Liberty. For those who remember their American history, this line was uttered by Patrick Henry, during a speech to Virginia's House of Burgesses in which he was arguing for an end to British colonial rule. Needless to say, getting to that point wasn't a bed of roses for Henry (played by John Litel), and the troubles he had with the British colonial authorities form the dramatic storyline here.

That's followed at 12:50 AM by The Declaration of Independence. I mentioned it last year, as it unsurprisingly got an airing last July 4. The dramatic plot behind this short involves one of the signatories, who is set to cast the deciding vote in favor of the declaration -- if only he can get to Philadelphia before the British capture him!

Last, and probably most interesting, is Sons of Liberty at 1:08 AM. This short looks at little-known Haym Solomon, a Jewish immigrant from Poland who settled in Philadelphia, and helped the American independence effort by using his personal fortung to finance it. It's a part of the war effort that doesn't get looked at as much, which makes it mildly interesting. More interesting is that we've got Claude Rains, who was already a big enough name not to have to do shorts like this, playing Solomon.

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