That’s a bit of a rhetorical question, but it’s not an exaggeration. Hollywood obviously doesn’t like the American Revolution, and has signaled its disdain for the whole affair by studiously avoiding the topic for 110 years or so.
Let’s examine the statistics. In the 1910s, there were six movies made about the American Revolution. They had to interrupt the revolution to hold up cards explaining what everyone was saying, of course. But those six movies are the most for any decade since then, with the exception of the 1950s, who tied the score.
After the teens:
1930s: 4, including Daniel Boone, which is about Indian fighting, not killing Britishers
1940s: 1. No, really; one. With Cary Grant, of all people, in a sort of Peyton Revolutionary Place
1950s: 6 again, none notable really. Daniel Boone is back, with Lon Chaney of all people busting Daniel’s balls with feathers in his hair. Leon Trotsky’s Bessarabian nephew (I’m not making this up, I swear) Samuel Bronston filmed John Paul Jones in Spain of all places, starring Robert Stack of all people, and lost his shirt. Andrew Loog Oldham liked the movie poster, though, and told the bass player in Led Zeppelin, John Baldwin, he’d be hipper if he changed his name to John Paul Jones for some reason.
1960s: Basically none. For a decade where about twenty-zillion movies were made. There was one French-Italian production called La Fayette. I don’t think George Washington was that fond of spaghetti and meatballs, however, or snails for that matter, so I don’t get the connection
1970s: 3, I guess, but only technically. The first, Paths of War, is an Italian comedy of all things. The plot summary shows just how confused Italians can be about any topic you could name:
In 1858 in Italy, in Sicily, Franco and Ciccio defend the Bourbon army to prevent the unification of Italy built by Giuseppe Garibaldi. However, when the troops of Garibaldi defeated the Bourbons, Franco and Ciccio escape, taking refuge in a box, which is delivered in America. In the Far West, Franco and Ciccio find themselves involved in the American War of Independence against the Apache Indians. They, camouflage, disguise themselves first by warlike Americans, and then by Indian holy men, being able to save their skin.
Franco and Ciccio sound like they went to American public schools, with a timeline like that. Anyway, the decade wasn’t done with messin’ with us. There was 1776, a musical comedy about the Revolution, if you can wrap your head around that. In his review, Vincent Canby of the New York Times, said that “the lyrics sound as if they’d been written by someone high on root beer…” I don’t quite know how to approach that observation, so we’ll move on. The only other Revolution movies listed is a videotaped adaptation of a Broadway play shown as a Hallmark Hall of Fame special, so not really a movie. But Christopher Walken is listed as a Hessian in it, which must have been a trip.
1980s: 2. Revolution, starring Al Pacino, is chockablock full of unintentional comedy. Not since Tony Curtis was saying things like Yonder is duh cassel ov my faddah had we been treated to Bronx accents in such unBronxy settings. The only other movie about the Revolution was made by the Brigham Young University School of Fine Arts. Not exactly a David O. Selznick production, there.
1990s: Zero, unless you call The Little Patriot one. I’m not sure if I do, because I can’t find anything about it online, except notes about the director in Danish, which I’m allergic to.
2000s: 3. Mel Gibson starred in a slasher film about the Revolution, The Patriot, and proved there was at least a quarter of a billion dollars in the topic, as long as you brained enough Britishers with a hatchet during the festivities. The other two are so obscure that they might well be slides of someone’s vacation in Maryland.
2010s: 4, I guess. The only one with a link on the Wikiup is listed as an “American Christian historical action-adventure film.” I don’t know how to break it to the Wikiup editors, but everything to do with the United States up until a few years ago was American Christian history. Maybe that’s why Hollywood isn’t interested. The other three movies don’t merit links on the Wiki, but I found a screen cap from one. Enjoy:
These stalwart ’76ers appear to be trying to figure out which end the shooty bits come out of, and what time lunch is served. We’ll leave it at that.
2020s: 1. I think. There’s one listed, called The Battle of Camden, but I can’t find it much about it. Its IMDB file says the Top Cast includes Jezibell Anat, who seems to be a belly dancer. I’m not sure how that would tie in with the Battle of Camden, but it’s no stranger than casting Tony Curtis in The Vikings, is it?
OK, maybe it is.
So let’s compare that with movies about the Civil War. Back to the Wikiup. Hmm. I count 355. That’s a lot. Hell, they list 16 currently being produced.
Let’s try World War I movies to cleanse our palates. Believe me, I’m not going to try to count World War II movies. I don’t have that kind of stamina and an abacus with that many beads. But The Great War? Nobody born after Nixon got de-selected can even tell you what that one was about. I doubt most of the combatants could. But still, I count 202 entries on the Wikiup for WWI.
So Hollywood is very, very interested in wars. It’s interested in every sort of war involving Americans, and plenty that didn’t. But ipso facto they don’t care about the revolutionary war. My opinion might not be science, but it sure is at least some sort of arithmetic.
Perhaps I know why. I was in a used bookstore last year. We buy old hardcover versions of classics, mostly. Not much after the 1930s. Anyway, we were standing at the checkout and the heavy-set woman behind the counter with the owlish glasses and the tats was looking askance at our selections, and picked up one of our Graham Greene books about the Caribbean.
“My daughter just came back from vacation down near there. She said to me, ‘Mom, the money is so much more colorful down there, and has more interesting people on it’.” Then the clerk said to us, “Our money just has boring old dead white guys on it, amirite?”
I looked in my wallet. There was Alexander Hamilton. Ah yes. A bastard orphan born on the island of Nevis, taken in by a merchant who paid his way to New York for an education. He served as an artillery officer in the Revolutionary War, was the aide to General Washington, and was a delegate to the Continental Congress. On his days off from practicing law and writing 51 of the 85 installments of The Federalist Papers, he founded the Bank of New York, which currently has $45.7 trillion in assets somewhere around the place, I imagine it’s hard to remember where you put all that stuff. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury, which is only fair as it was his idea to have one. He helped abolish the international slave trade, and President Adams made him a major general in the army to keep him busy. Then he was shot to death in a duel with the third vice-president of the United States.