For The Fourth: Five Strange Uncle Sam Appearances On Screen
I want you....to stop abusing me onscreen
For some people, today is the Fourth of July holiday. For others, it's Monday.
Whatever one works for you, it's time to get in a patriotic, Uncle Sam mood!! And what better way than to see ol' Sam in five strange screen appearances?
Whether it's Sam in a soft-core porn film, as a crazed murderer, as someone lazily ignoring the Japanese threat on Pearl Harbor on December 6, or even if it's Sam dying a tortured, harrowing death from thirst in a boundless desert, it's obvious the guy has range as an actor.
1. December 7th
Produced by John Ford and directed by famed cinematographer Gregg Toland, December 7th is a semi-documentary about the Pearl Harbor attack. Actual and staged footage of the attack and aftermath is preceded by an odd introduction in which Uncle Sam, in Hawaii because of corns on his feet, is interrupted by "Mr. C," his conscience.
Mr. C chides Sam for allowing Japanese people so much freedom on the island. The Army, which commissioned the work, thought the into made the U.S. look too complacent, so the film was edited down to just the attack. It took years for the Sam footage to surface.
2. Linda Lovelace for President
The lighting, the sound, the overall feel of this thing screams `70s porn, but it's actually a semi-demi-hemi-legit effort by Linda Lovelace, or her handlers, to cash in by reaching a bigger audience. From the title we guess she runs for office.
This scene features a letter from her Uncle Sam, who talks about crossing in America in a covered wagon ("And if you've seen my wife, you know why it was covered!" he adds, in what we assume is an accurate gauge of the movie's humor quotient.)
Sam isn't seen in this clip, but his voice urges Linda to follow her dream, or something.
3. Rocky IV
Sure, it has James Brown doing "Living in America." But is anyone shocked by the anti-American, doom-and-gloom symbolism here? A stoic Russian fighter, with no frills (Like Charlie in Apocalypse Now, he "didn't get much USO"), staring down American excess as a clownish, incredibly overconfident Uncle Sam prepares to get his ass kicked?
We are shocked, Sylvester Stallone. We've never actually seen Rocky IV -- Rocky II was when we got off the train -- but we are simply wondering why a man who has lived the American Dream could not have provided a picture with a little patriotic uplift at the end.
4. Public Service Announcement
Last year, because of unemployment among our poor people, we spent $20 billion on a program that returns nothing -- welfare," the narrator sneers, as Sam burns up armfuls of cash in an incinerator....a welfare incinerator.
The National Alliance of Businessmen (No dames need apply!!) produced this effort to promote a jobs program to "Help America Work."
5. Uncle Sam
"He's a red-blooded All-American nightmare!!" this trailer cries. But it's actuallyfor a movie that spoofs the killer-on-the-loose genre, so maybe it shouldn't count. On the other hand, it looks like Sam is up to some pretty grisly stuff.
Bonus: Conservation PSA
Embedding is disallowed, so click here to watch Uncle Sam, in the last throes of a horrible death from thirst, try to wring just another drop out of his canteen, which looks like a gas pump. Because, you know, it's time to get serious about fossil fuels.
After seeing one last, tiny drop, viewers are treated to the sight of Sam's corpse lying forgotten and unloved in an unforgiving desert.
Happy Fourth, everybody!!!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.