Bad Things Happen on July 4, At Least According to ‘Jaws,’ ‘Independence Day,’ and ‘Die Hard’

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate America’s independence with John Philip Sousa marches, baseball games, various red, white, and blue foods, and, of course, fireworks. Sometimes in movies the fireworks are the perfect opportunity to steal a kiss (or more). Sometimes those fireworks are more like fireballs that consume everything in their path. At least that’s how Roland Emmerich celebrates Fourth of July. But, actually, if you think about it, there’s often been a lot of July 4 destruction and terror in movies. Here are six examples of absolutely terrible, disastrous Independence Day celebrations on the big screen.

1. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) — Never commit a murder when it’s moonbright. That’s the message in John Ford’s film about young Abe defending wrongly accused murder suspects in Illinois after a corpse turns up at a July Fourth celebraton.  But hey, even if murder and mayhem isn’t the way you wanted to celebrate our nation’s independence at least you can then expect some swift justice. Public hangin’s are fun!

2. Independence Day (1996) — Why not celebrate the Fourth with the destruction of every iconic U.S. landmark you cherish?

3. Jaws (1975) — What’s more disturbing: the carcharadon carcharias devouring Amity Island swimmers or the plaid-suited mayor who refuses to close the beaches for fear of losing out on those sweet, sweet Fourth of July tourist dollars? 

Credit: Universal Studios

4. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) — Yankee Doodle went to London just to ride the ponies. But then he’s accused of throwing a race! Some Independence Day for a guy who was born on the Fourth of July. Of course, George M. Cohan’s musical ultimately sees him exonerated — he learns he’s cleared once a rocket is fired off the back of a ship — but it’s still tough going.

5. 1776 (1972) — Having to sit for days inside an AC-less Continental Congress chamber? Not fun. Having to listen to proto-Tea Partiers sing “Cool, Cool Considerate Men”? Even less fun. 

6. Live Free or Die Hard (2007) — John McClane may enjoy going mano a jet fighter on his Fourth. We see it as the moment that the Die Hard franchise lost all touch with reality. Fourth of July ruined.

Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

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