When it comes to America, the values, the principles, and ideals that we strive for are great. Freedom, liberty, truth, justice, happiness and the right stand up against tyranny are ideas that we can all believe in... but what about the stuff? The tangible things that distinguish this great nation from others are worth taking note of as well. That’s why we’re taking a moment, in honor of our great nation, to say “Thanks” to the movies that celebrate uniquely American cultural artifacts.
Bread has been around for tens of thousands of years and sausage too has been around for a couple millenia, but it was only in America that a hot dog could be created. And only an American comedy legend like Steve Martin could bring to the big screen the hot dog conundrum that has perplexed us all.
The Italians might just have us when it comes to sculpting blocks of marble using chisels and whatnot, but when it comes to sculpting a mountain face with dynamite? Nobody beats us there. And when it comes to directors who like to incorporate historic, patriotic landmarks into movies, nobody did it better than Alfred Hitchcock. Ok, he wasn't an American, but he sure did have a knack for incorporating cool American monuments into his movies.
Car racing is a sport that is popular the world over, but nowhere else on Earth has invented a sport quite like NASCAR. Luckily this great American sport is celebrated by a classic American comedy. We only have the little baby Jesus — and maybe Adam McKay and Will Ferrell — to thank for that.
Route 66 — Cars
America loves its cars, so it’s no wonder that it builds roads worthy of those classic cars. It's not for nothin' that it's called The Mother Road, and it's cool enough that people from all around the world travel to the US just to drive from Chicago to LA. It's not like we hear about people traveling to Scotland for a chance to drive the A9. Just sayin'.
Vermont maple syrup — Elf
Apparently Canada also has maple syrup? Who cares. Vermont maple syrup is where it’s at. Everybody knows that. And there's no doubt in our minds that Buddy the Elf's beloved syrup came from Vermont and not from America's funny hat.
If asked which country is known for their pastries, France, Italy, and Denmark might be the first places that come to mind. But when it comes to highly processed, bright yellow, sponge-cake tubes filled with white goo, there’s only one place that really gets it right, and that’s the great US of A. Let them have their fancy lady fingers because we, and Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee, will choose Twinkies every time. A word of warning: the above clip, like most any clip from this movie, is NSFW due to language.
Dolly Parton — 9 to 5
We admit that there are plenty of actor/singers the world over, and some of them have fun, charismatic personalities. However, we challenge any country to produce a singer songwriter who is as blonde, buxom, witty and vibrant as Dolly Parton with as memorable a filmography. Yup, that’s right. They’ve got nothin’ on our Dolly.
Aviator sunglasses — Top Gun
Aviator sunglasses came about when American test pilot John Mcready and collaborated with Bausch and Lomb to create sunglasses that would protect aviators’ eyes at high altitudes. They then became a staple for military men, like Gen. MacArthur, as well as actors who portrayed military men, like Tom Cruise. And really, what else would you wear in the Danger Zone?
Plenty of countries produce fun, fast, good looking vehicles, but no one builds a big, loud, powerful muscle car like America. Muscle cars are an American classic, and the movie Bullitt pays tribute to these machines like no other. And to make it even better, the classic American 1968 Ford Mustang is driven by the classic American movie star Steve McQueen.
For over 150 years, baseball has been called America’s pastime, and for two and a half decades, there’s been one movie that has been the archetype for American baseball flick.
Is there any piece of clothing more iconic than Levi’s blue jeans? We don't think so, and it turns out that there’s no shortage of Levis featured in films. From flicks like Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One to Grease and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the Levi brand dungaree is a Hollywood staple.
Burgers are an American culinary icon, while Quentin Tarantino is an American cinematic icon. It’s no wonder then that this duo made the list. Pulp Fiction featured many burgers, from the discussion of the Royale with Cheese, to Sam Jackson stealing a Big Kahuna, to vegetarian Uma Thurman chowing down on a bloody burger at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. If that’s not a cinematic celebration of our favorite American sammich, what is?
Clips and images courtesy Buena Vista Pictures, MGM, Columbia Pictures, New Line Cinema, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, and Miramax Films.