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Film / Give Me Liberty 1936

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Give Me Liberty is a 1936 short film directed by B. Reeves Eason.

It's about Patrick Henry, Virginia politician and advocate for American independence from Britain, and his immortal "Give me liberty, or give me death" speech of March 23, 1775. The time frame is shortly before the outbreak of open war, but tensions are high in Virginia as in the rest of the colonies. Henry is well known as an opponent of Britain and it's policies in America. At a party he's hosting, one guest sings a pro-independence song, and is promptly arrested by a British goon squad. His wife Doxie, petrified that he will get clapped in a British prison, begs him to dial down his rabble-rousing rhetoric. This proves problematic when the Virginia legislature starts debating a measure to arm a militia for an anticipated war against England.

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One of several Technicolor shorts shot by Warners in the 1930s as the studio was testing out Technicolor production before going into features.


Tropes:

  • Complete-the-Quote Title: It's from Henry's famous "give me liberty, or give me death" speech.
  • Dances and Balls: George Washington is hosting a ball when Henry's messenger arrives.
  • Parlor Games: The ladies at Patrick and Doxie's party play blind man's bluff.
  • Rebel Leader: Patrick Henry, a leading opponent of Britain in the colonies.
  • Rousing Speech: The film closes with Patrick Henry's stemwinder of a speech, which ends in the famous quote "Give me liberty, or give me death!"note 
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  • Title Drop: The last line of the film is the famous quote.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Patrick Henry's Real Life wife during this time, who was named Sarah, was a Madwoman in the Attic and had been for years, since their last child was born in 1771. She's now believed to have been a victim of postpartum psychosis.
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