1776 (1972): Screen Version of Broadway Musical

“1776” received much publicity in 1972, as it was the first independent production of former studio mogul Jack Warner.

Adapted from the hit 1969 Broadway musical by Peter Stone and Sherman Edwards, it stars William Daniels, Ken Howard, and Howard Da Silva, who recreate their Broadway roles.

Set during the first Continental Congress, when the Declaration of Independence was drafted by founding fathers John Adams (Daniels) and Benjamin Franklin (Da Silva), the tale tries to my dry history more accessible by humanizing these iconic figures.

The strategy calls for contemporizing them — particularly the character of Ben Franklin. Blythe Danner’s character of Martha Jefferson is expanded for the film version to allow for an outdoor production number.

After “1776,” Warner made only one more film, the 1972 grunge Western “Dirty Little Billy,”which made clearlt the fact that he was out of touch with the zeitgeist.

The picture was originally rated G with its theatrical running time of 141 minutes. It was later expanded to 166 minutes, causing the MPAA to re-rate it into PG (for language) in 1992.

Running time: 141 Minutes.
Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Classics
Directed by Peter H. Hunt
Written by Peter Stone
DVD: July 2, 2002

Oscar Nominations:1

Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Jr.

Oscar Context:

The winner was Geoffrey Unsworth who won for lensing another Broadway musical adapted to the big screen, “Cabaret.”

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