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Film / Sons of Liberty

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Sons of Liberty is a 1939 short film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Claude Rains.

It's the story of Haym Salomon, a Real Life broker and financier who helped fund the American war effort during The American Revolution. Haym, a Jew from Poland, believes in America as a haven from religious persecution, having escaped anti-Semitic persecution in Europe. He acts as a spy against the occupying British in New York, is imprisoned, and escapes. Finally gaining refuge in Philadelphia, he embarks on an emergency fundraising campaign to allow George Washington's army to conduct the 1781 campaign that led to victory at Yorktown and American independence.

Sons of Liberty is atypical for short films of the day, which usually featured second- and third-tier studio talent. Instead, this film was helmed by Curtiz, Warner Brothers' top director, and starred Rains, one of its biggest stars.

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Not to be confused with the television series Sons of Liberty.


Tropes:

  • Artistic License – History: Reference is made to Cornwallis having defeated Washington. While Cornwallis did enjoy some spectacular triumphs in the southern theater before everything went bad at Yorktown, he never faced off in combat with Washington until the Yorktown siege.
  • The Cavalry: Literally, as the American cavalry swoops down Just in Time and prevents Morris, Salomon, and their huge load of cash from being captured by the Hessians.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Salomon himself, George Washington, Robert Morris (who worked with Salomon and was the chief financier of the American war effort), and a brief appearance by Nathan Hale.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Salomon is talking to a young man in the prison holding cell when he says "What's your name?" Cue a British sentry opening the door and calling "Nathan Hale!" Hale is led away to his hanging.
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  • Informed Judaism: An odd example. Reference is made to Salomon fleeing from religious persecution. He is shown at a Sabbath service, made obvious by the clothes everyone is wearing. It's even referred to as the Day of Atonement. His name is "Haym Salomon". But the words "Jew" and "Jewish" are never said in the movie.
  • Large Ham: Everybody, the narrator worst of all.
  • Narrator: An over-the-top bombastic narrator who relates the events of Salomon's life.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Claude Rains, playing a Polish Jew, sounding like Claude Rains.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Just how did Salomon escape from jail in New York? You'll just have to keep wondering.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Haym reciting the "We hold these truths to be self-evident" bit from the Declaration of Independence immediately before he dies might be going a little bit over the top.
  • Title Drop: Multiple references to the Sons of Liberty group.
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