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Movie ideas for American Heritage

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Our council is putting on a Winter Camp this year, and I am counseling American Heritage. I am looking for movie suggestions we can show after dinner. The requirement states:


5. Do ONE of the following:

Watch two motion pictures (with the approval and permission of your counselor and parent) that are set in some period of American history. Describe to your counselor how accurate each film is with regard to the historical events depicted and also with regard to the way the characters are portrayed.


I want to consider shorter movies, as this will be taking up time from the scout's free time in the evening. So many of what I consider great movies in American history tend to be much longer. What ideas can you off for this?

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Trying to stay under two hours and maintain their interest can be a challenge!


Older but shorter films:

Drums Along the Mohawk (104 minutes)

Young Mr Lincoln (100 minutes)


Longer, but perhaps able to hold their attention:

The Right Stuff (193 minutes)

Glory (122 minutes)

Last of the Mohicans (117 minutes)

Rudy (116 minutes)


For the Scouters: Follow Me Boys! (131 minutes)

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I respectfully submit the foloowing for your consideration.


The Patriot - Set during the American Revolution. Stars Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger.


Glory - Set during the Civil War. Subject is the first all black regiment to engage in battle during the Civil War. Stars Matthew Broderick and I believe Denzel Washington.


If time wasn't a constraint, I'd recommend Gettysburg.

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Keeping the scout's attention is a consideration, but the truth is that I only have only been allocated an hour and a half to show one movie one night. I may be able to squeeze in one other night, but I am requesting that the scouts watch one movie on thier own before camp.


One of the ones I am considering is The Red Badge of Courage. It is a story which most boys that age have read in school, so they should be familiar with the material, and it is only 69 minutes in length. I want to have a back-up if I can squeeze in another session (of if there are scouts who have not followed through with another movie in advance.

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What happens at the 90 minute mark? Is there another group using tha facility or is that timeline based on Scout attention span? 90 minutes isn't a lot of time to watch a movie, much less discuss it and get every Scout's participation; I don't envy your task. Red Badge of courage would be excellent, I think, especially at 69 minutes.

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Nothing happens after the 90 minutes are up, per se. But our council's first Winter Camp is only 4 days long, so we have a "rushed" schedule. I aleady have the scouts for one evening in addition to the daytime classes, so I want to be respectful of the scouts and try not to keep them from the fun around camp.


I am however a stickler to the "no more, no less" school of Merit Badge Counseling, so I want to ensure that the scouts have the opportunity to complete all the requirements. I am finishing writing the "recomended to do in advance" list so that we have few partials, but neither do I want them to spend their whole time at camp "researching" for their MB and not having troop and fun time. It is all in finding the right balance.

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Friendly Persuasion ::: Unfortunately, 2 hrs.


ANY of Ken Burns documentaries. All are formatted for tv, so are one and two hour episodes. Jazz, baseball, Civil War, National Parks,you name it:::


Brooklyn Bridge (1981)

The Shakers: Hands to Work, Hearts to God (1984)

The Statue of Liberty (1985)

Huey Long (1985)

The Congress (1988)

Thomas Hart Benton (1988)

The Civil War (1990)

Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (1991)

Baseball Innings 1-9 (1994), 10th Inning (2010)

Thomas Jefferson (1997)

Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (1997)

Frank Lloyd Wright (1998)

Not For Ourselves Alone: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (1999)

Jazz (2001)

Mark Twain (2001)

Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (2003)

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2005)

The War (2007)

The National Parks (2009)


All are available from www.shoppbs.org -


Have fun.

(This message has been edited by SSScout)

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Lewis and Clark is (I think 5 episodes. Each can stand alone, but I don't remember the exact progress of each. Most anything by Burns is worthwhile, right? I especially liked the Statue of Liberty (singleton) . Check the PBS site and you will see which are single episodes and which are multi and how long. I dare say your library or video store would have some of them, and you can always check Netflix. Moviesunlimited.com can order almost anything ever recorded on celluloid (or nitrate) or mylar.




Oh yes, nothing like a movie night when the cabin walls start to close in in the dead of winter, when the wind hooowwwwls outside the frosted windows and the snow drifts up to blockade the door and the beans and ham is runnin' low....

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Here are some other movies to consider/stick in a file to recommend to the Scouts, although I think most are too long for your purposes. Many are rated R for language/violence/both, so they would not be for every Scout. I didn't list any of the fine films already listed before (Glory, Gettysburg, anything by Ken Burns)


- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) (I also highly recommend the book for anyone who has never read it) (133 minutes - No rating?) - the story of the Sioux Indians


- Gangs of New York (2002) - R. 167 minutes. Nominated for ten Oscars, a microcosm of the clash in the United States between older "Native" population and the thousands of immigrants pouring off the boats each day in the mid-1800s.


- Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier (1955) - G. 93 minutes. This was already mentioned, but it was my favorite movie as a kid (and I wasn't born in '81, I must have been a strange kid). Its historical accuracy is terrible, but the Scouts could easily pick it apart. For the record, I still love this movie.


- Tombstone (1993) - R. 130 minutes. The Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday fight the Clancys at the OK Corall.


- Tora! Tora! Tora! (1973) - G. 144 minutes. The attack on Pearl Harbor, although you average Scout would probably poison you if you had them watch this movie. I refuse to recommend "Pearl Harbor".


- Sands of Iwo Jima (1949 - 100 Minutes), The Big Trail (1930 - 120 minutes), or a host of other John Wayne movies.


- Saving Private Ryan (1999) R. 170 minutes - Won Oscars, Tom Hanks, I'm sure we've all seen and enjoyed this movie.


- A League of the Their Own (1992) R.


and the finest of all modern documentary, historical films...


- Godzilla vs the Sea Monster (1966).

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Great lists of movies. May I suggest Johnny Tremain, a Disney production? In 80 minutes a good treatment of revolutionary Boston.

One caution I must make to your idea of showing movies at camp, is copyright infringement. The DVD you and I buy or rent only allows home viewing.

My Church, the ELCA has a page on the subject and remedies suggested.



Have fun I love historical movies even when they have no relation to the facts.


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