Give Me Liberty (1936)

Approved   |    |  Short, Biography, Drama

Give Me Liberty (1936) Poster

Patrick Henry's rousing speech before the Virginia legislature argues for colonial independence.


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Cast & Crew

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B. Reeves Eason


Forrest Barnes (story and screenplay)

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13 June 2008 | bkoganbing
| "Let George III profit by their example"
Give Me Liberty was the first of three short subjects in which character actor John Litel played the fiery Virginia bred founding father. This one is a competently made film which gives the essence of the real Patrick Henry.

One of the other reviewers mentioned that he thought Litel was old fashionedly flamboyant as Henry. But in point of fact that's what he was in real life. He was indeed the kind of spell binding orator whose words did move men. Henry was one of the leaders of the Virginia bar as well as a Delegate in the Virginia House of Burgesses, his summations to the jury were legendary.

That aroused a lot of jealousy among his contemporaries. Thomas Jefferson whose forte was writing not speaking, trained as a lawyer as a young man. I recall reading Dumas Malone's multi-volume Jefferson biography where Jefferson wrote in his diary about how hard he worked on researching precedents and that all Patrick Henry did was bamboozle juries with bull. Nothing's changed in over 230 years as far as lawyers in this country. Jefferson gave up law practice and it was Patrick Henry's stock in trade.

He was a mercurial man Henry, you never knew which side of an issue he'd wind up on. He was at various stages after the Revolution, a Federalist and an anti-Federalist whatever the mood struck him.

Don't look for consistency with Henry, but this film will give you a good idea what he was like in his glory days of the Revolutionary War.

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