The clip I wanted was from the Ford's Theater production this year but...
Full disclosure: I love musicals. It was part of how I paid for college and I still perform every now and then. One of my proudest accomplishments is having been able to sing comic opera at Monticello and Ashlawn (Jefferson's and Monroe's homes, respectively) while stationed in Virginia. 1776 is one of the musicals I would try to arrange my schedule to be in if it were mounted around here. So, don't be a hater, hater.
As a movie musical it is quite solid. Most of the original Broadway principles reprise their roles and reprise them well. Williams Daniels and Howard DiSilva as Adams and Franklin are pitch perfect. Ken Howard as TJ is quite good. None of these men are exceptional singers but, like Paula Abdul, you forgive them a little pitchiness here and there. The musical heavy lifting is done by Blythe Danner, Virginia Vestoff, Ron Holgate and John Cullum. The four's moment in center light are among the best of the movie. Cullum's Molasses to Rum is, I believe, a perfect moment on film. He would star a few years later as a Virginia father torn by allegiance in the Civil War in the musical Shenandoah and shine there as well.
1776 as a patriotic movie ... Its patriotic because it shows the messiness of convictions and change. Is it historically accutate? Not on alot of levels but since its not a documentary ... A musical has certain size and cost constraints so characters get merged together and events speculated, even created from scratch. But the conflict, the backstories, the hourglass ticking as the British aim their fleet at New York Harbor--it works.
In addition to the messiness of birthing a nation, I would offer the character of John Dickinson (played brilliantly by Paul Hecht) as an example of patriotism. He is Adam's foil in the movie; not ready to split from Mother England. However, Dickinson is a great example of opposition honing the argument and galvanizing the decision. Leaders aren't supposed to be lemmings and 1776 shows that.
Up Next: "Blowed Up, Sir!"