The first independent production of former studio mogul Jack Warner
was adapted from the hit 1969 Broadway musical by Peter Stone
and Sherman Edwards. William Daniels
, Ken Howard and Howard Da Silva
are among the many actors who recreate their Broadway roles. The story is set during the Second Continental Congress, when the Declaration of Independence was drafted by such founding fathers as John Adams (Daniels) and Benjamin Franklin
(Da Silva). The script attempts to "humanize" these remote historical characters with wisecracks, scatology, and an abundance of sexual innuendo--particularly in the case of the libidinous Ben Franklin. Blythe Danner's character of Martha Jefferson is expanded for the film version to allow for an elaborate outdoor production number. Director Peter Hunt
, who helmed the original Broadway production, can't quite overcome the essential staginess of the project, though the cast is game and the music is well showcased. After 1776, Jack Warner made only one more film, the 1972 "grunge western" Dirty Little Billy.