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1776: The Movie

1776 Pioneer Special Edition Laserdisc

The Pennsylvania State House
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Franklin
John Dickinson
James Wilson
Abigail Adams
Silent Men of Congress
Historical Accuracy in 1776
1776 Tidbits
VHS vs. DVD
1776 Laserdisc

What have we been missing?

“That was the most revolting display I have ever witnessed.” ~ John Adams, appearing only on the Pioneer Special Edition Laserdisc.

I have recently been privileged to see the Pioneer Special Edition Laserdisc version of 1776 and I just had to cry out frustration. What have we been missing? Oh, I am telling you, there are scenes in here that just made me bust a gut! Many of them I have known about from the official musical script book, but to see them acted by Mr. Daniels and the others… oh, a real treat indeed!

 

Just a warning: This page has a lot of large pictures on it. If you have a slow internet connection, it might take some time to load. Sorry. I can and will down the picture sizes and have them linked ot their full sizes if anyone asks. I live to serve (not really, but I like my fans.)

The major new footage:

  • Longer Overture music (played over a blue screen with "overture" and "1776.") There is about 4:20 before going into the drawn sequence as on the DVD.

Overture Screen
laserdisc_overture.jpg

  • There is more to the number "Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve" (including the non-period phrase 'shut up'). "If you don't want to see us hanging from some far off British hill, if you don't want the voice of independency forever still… then God, sir, get thee to it, for congress never will!" I love this footage as Adams waves his arms around and transverses about a block (?) of Philadelphia at night, passing by a tavern and a sign saying "coaches," possibly for their hire. "I'm convinced the only purpose this congress ever had, was to gather here, specifically, to drive John Adams mad!"
  • There is extremely funny additional footage after "The Lees of Old Virginia." I had read this in the play script book, but reading it is not comparable to seeing it! What's more, when Lee suddenly spurs his horse, he manages to scare Adams right into the fountain! I had to get a screenshot of this to share!

laserdisc_adams_fountian.jpg
Hahaha! Adams in the fountain!

  • The scene added on the DVD beginning with Caesar Rodney of Delaware asking Dr. Hall of Georgia if he can talk with him for a moment in private is in "black and white" (I think it's more like sepia) on this laserdisc. My guess is that when rooting around in that "movie bunker" they must have found a color print or negative to use for the DVD. Good job!

hall_rodney_sepia.jpg

  • There is music during the Adams/Dickinson stick fight that is not on the DVD. It is on the VHS, though.
  • There is footage in the scene where Franklin gets off his "increase and multiply" joke and Adams continues "We will more then compensate - with spirit..." he goes on to say some very stirring words that I wish, above all else listed here, would have made it to the DVD:

"Why don't you pay attention to the people for a change? Why don't you read Tom Paine? 'Tis not the concern of a day, a year or an age! Posterity will be affected even to the end of time by the proceedings now! Now is the seed time of continental union, faith, honor and spirit! I tell you there is a spirit out there among the people that is sadly lacking in this congress…"

And there the DVD picks it back up. All I could do was shout, "Yes!" as the "rebel" inside me got excited. I agree with Mr. Adams - read Common Sense by Thomas Paine, please.

As Adams is shouting this, Jefferson is looking out the window (he had hopped up onto the windowsill earlier to read) as a group of children come marching by. As Adams says "posterity," one of the children is shown, looking up and smiling at Jefferson. She is part of the posterity that will be affected by what goes on in that congress. A very moving moment indeed.

jefferson_sees_children.jpg

girl_similing.jpg

jefferson_similing.jpg

  • There is more footage after "Yours Yours Yours" that shows the man who is lighting the street lamp in more detail. It goes on to show Franklin, the next morning, weaving through the street market on his way to wake Adams up. He grabs a piece of fruit (it looks like a plum or a small red apple) and comes around to where Adams is as the lamplighter comes by to blow out the lamp. There is a shot that shows the shutters are still closed.

franklin_market.jpg

franklin_fruit.jpg

  • There is an extra line of Franklin's as they talk to Martha Jefferson on the stairs: "I am not an idle flatterer, Dr. Franklin. My husband admires you both greatly." "Then we are doubly flattered, for we admire very much that which your husband admires." And Adams continues with the "Did you sleep well" joke. There is enough of a pause between the words "husband" and "admires" at the end of the line that makes me wonder if Mr. Da Silva's tongue got away from him and he had to catch up or if there was something else on Franklin's mind.
  • There is an intermission with music and a screen that looks like the Overture screen. In the original on-stage musical, there was no intermission. It comes directly after "He Plays the Violin."
  • There is footage of Dr. Hall, walking down what would be Chestnut Street, greeting people "Good morning!" (including Mr. McNair, who is getting water from a pump) and whistling. He is so jaunty! This continues into where Hall comes into the congress and Mr. Thompson is reading off the names of all those committees. The tune from "Cool, Cool, Considerate Men" is playing during this as well.

hall_street01.jpg

hall_street02.jpg

  • Something missing: The laserdisc, at the end of "Cool, Cool Men," cuts right to McNair pounding a cup on a table and saying, "Sit down, gentlemen. The chair rules it's too damn hot to work." Some wonderful footage that must have been found later on, and I am glad to see it on the DVD.
  • There is the tune of “Yours Yours Yours” playing while Adams and Abigail are up in the bell tower.
  • While Adams is talking to Thompson about where he stands (with the general, it turns out), there is a little bit of “The Egg” tune playing, quietly.

All in all a good time. What a wonderful treat! Thank you John and Otto!