1776: Director’s Cut (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 24, 2015 by  


For those who enjoyed “1776” and its music will no doubt love the film’s music and its portrayal of early American politics and what led to the signing of the Declaration of the Independence. And with this latest Blu-ray release, the film looks wonderful in HD!

Images courtesy of © 1972, 2002 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: 1776: Director’s Cut


DURATION: 166 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: NR (Not Rated)

Release Date: June 2, 2015

Directed by Peter H. Hunt

Based on the Play by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone

Screenplay by Peter Stone

Produced by Jack L. Warner

Music by Sherman Edwards

Cinematography by Harry Stradling Jr.

Edited by Florence Williamson, William H. Zeigler

Casting by Michael Shurtleff

Production Design by George Jenkins

Art Direction by George Jenkins, John Jay Moore

Set Decoration by George James Hopkins

Costume Design by Patricia Zipprodt


William Daniels as John Adams

Howard Da Silva as Dr. Benjamin Franklin

Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson

Donald Madden as John Dickinson

John Cullum as Edward Rutledge

Roy Poole as Stephen Hopkins

David Ford as Congressional President John Hancock

Ron Holgate as Richard Henry Lee

Ray Middleton as Col. Thomas McKean

William Hansen as Caesar Rodney

Blythe Danner as Martha Jefferson

Virginia Vestoff as Abigail Adams

Emory Bass as Judge James Wilson

Ralston Hill as Congressional Secretary Charles Thompson

1776 is a musical celebration of the founding of the United States of America based on the award-winning Broadway production. The story centers around familiar historical characters as they organize a movement for independence from Mother England: the tough and unyielding John Adams (William Daniels); the charming and pragmatic Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva); the brilliant Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard) who is chosen to write the Declaration of Independence even as he longs for the company of his new bride Martha (Blythe Danner); and the rest of the Continental Congress. All events lead up to that most significant date of July 4, 1776 when the Declaration was signed. Now fully restored for its high definition debut on Blu-ray, 1776 looks and sounds better than ever.

Back in 1969, the musical “1776” featuring music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards, based on the book by Peter Stone would receive positive reviews from critics.

Nominated for five Tony Awards and winning three, including “Best Musical”, “1776” would receive a film adaptation courtesy of filmmaker Peter H. Hunt and a screenplay by Peter Stone, with a song score composed by Sherman Edwards.

The film would star William Daniels (“Boy Meets World”, “St. Elsewhere”, “The Graduate”), Howard Da Silva (“Mommie Dearest”, “The Great Gatsby”), Ken Howard (“The White Shadow”, “Michael Clayton”, “Crossing Jordan”), Blythe Danner (“Meet the Parents”, “Meet the Fockers”, “The Lucky One”) and John Cullum (“One Life to Live”, “Northern Exposure”).

“1776” would also feature dialogue and song lyrics taken directly from the letters and memoirs of the actual participants of the Second Continental Congress.

And now, the musical will now be released on Blu-ray to be released as a Director’s Cut and also an Extended Addition, remastered in 4K.

“1776” takes place during a time when General George Washington is leading the charge against the British Empire on the battlefield, while back in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress debate American independence.

John Adams (portrayed by William Daniels) of Massachusetts is the leader of the independence faction who has been pushing the issue.  Meanwhile, John Dickinson (portrayed by Donald Madden) of Pennsylvania leads the opposition in hopes for a reconciliation with England.

Adams often communicates with the image of his wife Abigail Adams (portrayed by Virginia Vestoff) and often goes to his friend Dr. Benjamin Franklin (portrayed by Howard Da Silva) for advice.

Meanwhile, others representatives of different states debate on independence and the discussion become heated.  And it continues to lead to even more debate when a clause opposing slavery is not removed, which the Southern delegates are in support of slavery.  With Dr. Franklin suggesting for John to focus on Independence and pursuing ending slavery later, which direction would John Adams go?


“1776: Director’s Cut” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 Aspect Ratio).  The film was mastered in 4K and while you can see detail much clearer on the clothing of the characters and closeups also show great detail, while the film has a good amount of grain.


“1776: Director’s Cut” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear and primarily is front and center channel-driven.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH and French.


“1776: Director’s Cut” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Director Peter H. Hunt, William Daniels and Ken Howard (Director’s Cut Only)
  • Audio Commentary #2 – Featuring audio commentary with Director Peter H. Hunt and Screenwriter Peter Stone (Director’s Cut Only).
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes – Featuring three deleted and alternate scenes with two having director’s commentary.
  • Screen Tests – (1:40:07) Featuring nine screen tests with the film’s talent.
  • Theatrical Trailers – (1:39) Theatrical trailers for “1776”.


“1776: Director’s Cut” comes with a slipcover and a UltraViolet code.

It’s rather interesting to watch a musical based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the debates that took place amongst representatives of various states.  In some aspects, those who are interested in politics and the early politics of our country will find “1776” to be intriguing, while those who don’t care, would probably not find the film enjoyable.

With the political setting of the United States back in 1969 and the coming into 1972, having dealt with a decade full of war, tragedy with the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King, there was a longing for liberation and freedom, and in some ways, poking fun on conservatism.

With that being said, for those watching the film for historical education, may want to know the film is historically inaccurate.  There are no records over the debate over the Declaration of Independence.  There is also incorrect attributes on who was responsible for objections against tax abuses (it was Dickinson not John Adams).  Also, when it comes to Thomas Jefferson’s freeing of slaves and Franklin being the founder of the first abolitionist organization is also not factual.

I found the film to be fascinating but a musical I don’t see myself wanting to purchase the soundtrack immediately nor do I have the urge to watch it again.  The music to me is unremarkable nor memorable, with only one song and one scene that did stay in my mind, it was not about the politics but about a young man singing a song about wanting to see his mother before he passes.

While I’m sure fans were loving the fact that the film brought many of the Broadway stars to the big screen adaptation, the film is subjective on those who enjoy musicals about the politics of 1776.  I found the Director’s Cut of the film to be interesting in the fact that the song “Cool, Cool Considerate Men” was included but I found the film too be too long for my tastes.

As for the Blu-ray release, the film does look very good on Blu-ray as colors are much more vibrant and closeups show very good detail.  The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue and music, while there are two audio commentaries, screen tests and deleted/alternate scenes included.

Overall, for those who enjoyed “1776” and its music will no doubt love the film’s music and its portrayal of early American politics and what led to the signing of the Declaration of the Independence.  And with this latest Blu-ray release, the film looks wonderful in HD!  And you get two versions, the Director’s Cut and the Extended Cut version of the film.

The film is not 100% historically accurate and for those not entertained by musicals based on the history of the United States and its independence from British rule, may find this film not their cup of tea.  It’s a film that is no doubt subjective to the viewer but for those interested in checking out this classic musical now out on Blu-ray, you may want to give it a try.

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