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Born on the Fourth of July

A movie directed by Oliver Stone

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Powerful, earnest, and wrenching.

  • May 13, 2001
Oliver Stone explored the effects of the Vietnam war with three movies: Platoon, Heaven and Earth, and Born on the Fourth of July. Most regard Platoon as the best of this "trilogy," although I always preferred this one. Platoon was gritty and realistic, but this was powerful and more emotionally driven. Until I saw this film, I didn't have much respect for Tom Cruise as an actor, but everything changed afterwards. Cruise goes through a number of critical changes throughout this film, from a patriotic young man to a bitter, crippled veteran, and he does it better than you could imagine.

Cruise is the young athlete Ron Kovic, an idealistic and patriotic American who joins the Marines to fight in the Vietnam War. When he gets there, his brash eagerness is diluted by horror when he accidentally kills one of his own men. The pains in his heart are compounded by a bullet wound that leaves him paralyzed from the chest down. Returning home, he steadfastly clings to his national spirit, which puts him in conflict with the populace's growing aversion to the mess in Vietnam. He winds up in Mexico as a tormented drunkard, then reforms and becomes an anti-Vietnam activist, writing the autobiographical book on which this movie is based.

This movie is tremendously powerful because of its acute historical significance, strong anti-war message, and Tom Cruise's stunning acting. The movie is sad and wrenching, but it ends with an uplifting note of someone who rises above the pain and hate to a stronger condition. This is Oliver Stone's best film, I think. I also love the score by John Williams; the movie's theme does an incredible job evoking the feelings behind some of America's most painful years.

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More Born on the Fourth of July reviews
review by . May 13, 2009
Born on the Fourth of July follows the life of Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise) a high school athlete from a east coast working class family who's proud of God and country and when duty calls, he volunteers for the U.S. Marines. During his second tour of duty, his life changes. Can Kovic deal with his new lifestyle? Will his love for God and country be challenged by the ever changing environment of the 60's and 70's? To find out you'll have to watch Born on the Fourth of July.    Born …
review by . May 31, 2000
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: One of Cruise's best ever     Cons: The misjustice to Kovic     NOTE: I have never been to Viet Nam, I did not fight in Viet Nam, I have never been in the service, nor have I ever been in or visited a VA Hospital. My review of this movie is based solely on my interpretation of the movie - MY interpretation.       I am not saying Stone is correct nor am I saying what he shows is the truth. To me this is ONLY a movie and nothing more. …
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Clayton Reeder ()
Rogue capitalist in search of all that is interesting, weird, or beautiful.      Collected here are my hundreds of reviews from, covering mostly music that is offensive … more
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About this movie


Set in the years between 1956 and 1976; Produced and released in 1989.

One of the best films made about the devastating impact of the Vietnam War on the body politic, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY is superbly executed by director Oliver Stone, who evokes what may be Tom Cruise's best performance as Vietnam vet Ron Kovic. Before the war starts, Kovic is a normal American kid, going to school, hanging out with his friends, and bagging groceries for pocket money. But as the Vietnam conflict begins to impact the lives of everyone around him, the patriotic teenager decides to enlist. Although his father (Raymond J. Berry) is not happy with his decision, his mother (Caroline Kava) could hardly be more enthusiastic. Once in combat, Kovic becomes disillusioned with his commanding officer (John Getz) who dismisses the fact that Kovic accidentally shot one of their own men in combat. Shortly thereafter, Kovic is paralyzed from the chest down by a bullet in the spine. He must begin a lengthy and excruciatin...
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Cast: Daniel Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Willem Dafoe, Peter Benson, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, John C. McGinley, R.D. Call, Brian Tarantina, Brian Larkin, Byron Minns, Billie Neal, Mike Starr, Wayne Knight, Vivica A. Fox, Ed Lauter, Peter Crombie, Sean Stone, Dale Dye, Ivan Kane, Holly Marie Combs, Frank Girardeau, Oliver Stone, Bob Gunton, James LeGros, Chris Pederson, Damien Leake, Reg E. Cathey, Lucinda Jenney, Jack McGee, Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Jake Weber, Michael Miller, Claudio Brook, Frank Whaley, Mike Miller, Begonia Plaza, Stephen Baldwin, Raymond J. Barry, Michelle Hurst, David Herman, William Mapother, Melinda Ramos Renna, Alan Toy, John Getz, Ron Kovic, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Jason Gedrick, Real Andrews, Tom Berenger, Geoff Garza, Andrew Lauer, Gale Mayron, Lili Taylor, William Baldwin, Frank Cavestani, Tony Frank, Erika Geminder, Anne Bobby, Jayne Haynes, Ben Wright, Corky Ford, Beau Starr, Michael Smith Guess, William Wallace, Mark Moses, Bruce MacVittie, David Warshofsky, Kyra Sedgwick, Claude Brooks, Rocky Carroll, Abbie Hoffman, Norm Wilson, Annie McEnroe, Stacey Moseley, Samantha Larkin, Chuck Preiffer, Edith Diaz, Paul Sanchez, Jodi Long, John Galt, Melvin Allen, Jerry Levine, Seth Allen, David Neidorf, Joseph P. Reidy, Caroline Kava, Josh Evans, Jamie Talisman, Cordelia Gonzalez, Elizabeth Hoffman, John del Regno, John Falch, Markus Flanagan, Robert Camilletti, Cody Beard, Bill Allen, Jenna von Oy, Christopher Walker, Rick Masters, Sean McGraw, Willie Minor, Norma Moore, Kevin Harvey Morse, J.R. Nutt, Richard Panebianco, Jessica Prunell, Lane R. Davis, Richard Poe, Paul Abbott, Philip Amelio, Lisa Barnes, Ryan Beadle, Edie Brickell, David Carriere, SaMi Chester, Michael Compotaro, Amanda Davis, Dan Furnad, Fred Geise, Richard Grusin, Greg Hackbarth, Richard Haus, Ed Jupp, Jr., Jason Klein, Elbert Lewis, Richard Lubin, Kevin McGuire, Michael McTighe, Christopher W. Mills, Chip Moody, Liz Moore, Lorraine Morin-Torre, Pamela S. Neill, Karen Newman, Ken Osborne, Kristel Otney, Jimmy L. Parker, Ellen Pasternack, Anthony Pena, John Pinto, Eduardo Ricardo, Keri Roebuck, Sergio Scognamiglio, Michael Sulsona, Bob Tillotson, Harold Woloschin, Joy Zapata, William Hubbard Knight
Director: Oliver Stone
Genre: Drama, War
Release Date: 1989, December 20, 1989
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Oliver Stone, Ron Kovic
Runtime: 2hrs 25min
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