Patriotic imagery and content pop up in the most unexpected cinematic places.
Take, for example, the beloved boxing drama "Rocky" (1976). At the end of the movie, bloodied but still unbowed fighter Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) winds up wrapped up in an American flag.
It's a very stirring image, since rooting for the underdog has become such an American institution. As a result, "Rocky" is both inspirational and patriotic and makes a perfect movie-viewing option for the Fourth of July.
Speaking of which, there are some pretty obvious choices in recent years including the Tom Hanks duo of "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) and "Forrest Gump" (1994), "Patriot Games" (1992), "The Patriot" (2000) and even "Independence Day" (1996).
But here are 10 more worthy, less-obvious options from the past three decades:
• "An American Tail" (1986, rated G): A surprisingly involving animated feature about a young Russian mouse who gets separated from his family while they're emigrating to the United States.
• "Apollo 13" (1995, rated PG): Ron Howard's engrossing drama stars new American icon Hanks, as one of the three imperiled Apollo astronauts (Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton are the others).
• "Field of Dreams" (1989, rated PG): Kevin Costner has never been better than he was in this sentimental fantasy-drama about our love affair with baseball and with father-son relationships.
• "Ghostbusters" (1984, rated PG): In both this smash hit comedy and its inferior, 1989 sequel, the title characters rally the residents of New York City to combat supernatural threats.
• "National Treasure" (2004, rated PG): While it's true that some OK, a lot of its American history is completely fictional, there's some fun to be had from this treasure-hunting adventure.
• "The Natural" (1984, rated PG): Once again, what's more American than baseball? And this rousing, mythic sports drama is one of Robert Redford's most appealing big-screen vehicles.
• "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981, rated): Harrison Ford's heroic archaeologist character Indiana Jones single-handedly helps the United States war effort by preventing the Nazis from getting their hands on a holy relic.
• "Superman" (1978, rated PG): After saving the entire world from destruction, the wholesome title character, played by Christopher Reeve, restores the flag to the top of the White House.
• "WarGames" (1983, rated PG): A young Matthew Broderick stars in this tense thriller as a computer whiz who must save the United States after he accidentally hacks into the U.S. defense system mainframe.• "World Trade Center" (2006, rated PG-13): A real surprise coming from usually bombastic filmmaker Oliver Stone, this fact-based drama looks at examples of heroism after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
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