Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America

Films and Videos

  • Each library wishing to show films, videos or DVDs related to Alexander Hamilton to the public must arrange for public performance rights (PPR).

  • Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. now offers a Movie Public Performance Site License to libraries on an annual basis. Information is at www.movlic.com/library.html. Some distributors include PPR in their fee for renting or purchasing a work.

  • Please share information about films and videos with other libraries on the tour through the exhibition electronic discussion list. The ALA Public Programs Office will also pass along to you any film information we find.

Documentaries

There are several well-reviewed documentaries about Hamilton and the Founding period of U.S. History available from various sources.

Duel: Hamilton vs. Burr (History Channel, 2004, 70 min.) Available on VHS and DVD at http://store.aetv.com/html/home/index.jhtml or 1-800-708-1776.
Actor Richard Dreyfuss asks the question, "Why did the Vice President of the United States kill the former Secretary of the Treasury?" The documentary reveals the personal and political rivalry between Hamilton and Burr while questioning the conventional telling of the story.

The Duel (PBS Home Video, 2000, 60 min.) Available on VHS at www.shoppbs.org or 1-800-531-4727.
The Duel
is the story of the conflict between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Drawing upon the techniques and style of feature filmmaking, The Duel brings to life this tragic tale from America's earliest years. Linda Hunt narrates.

Founding Brothers (History Channel, 2002, 200 min.) Available on DVD and VHS at http://store.aetv.com/html/home/index.jhtml.
Based on Joseph Ellis's Pulitzer PrizeĀ® winning book, Founding Brothers examines six pivotal moments that shaped U.S. history, including the duel between Hamilton and Burr. Edward Herrmann narrates and well known actors represent Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Hamilton, Madison and Franklin.

A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation. (KBYU TV/PBS, 112 min.) Available on DVD and VHS at www.nccs.net/ampu.html.
The first comprehensive recreation of the stirring, heated debates of the Constitutional Convention during the sweltering summer of 1787. Filmed on location at Independence Hall, Williamsburg, Virginia, and other historical sites, it dramatically chronicles how America became a nation and the underlying principles that guard our freedoms today.

Other film works

The Patriots (WNET, New York, 1976, 119 min.) Available in DVD and VHS from The Broadway Theatre Archive www.broadwayarchive.com or (800) 573-3782.
Based on the play by Sidney Kingsley, The Patriots is a dramatic retelling of the bitter discord between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton in the early days of the Republic. The playscript itself is included in Sidney Kingsley: Five PrizeWinning Plays (Ohio State University Press, 1997).

Alexander Hamilton (Warner Brothers, 1931, 70 min., b/w) The only feature film on Hamilton, this one concentrates on Hamilton's efforts to pass the "Assumption" bill, which required the federal government to assume the debts incurred by the 13 states during the Revolutionary War and was the first step toward the young country achieving financial stability. However, it is not historically accurate and would require some explanation for audiences if shown. The timing of events, the addition of fictional characters, and the distortion of some of Hamilton's relationships to advance the dramatic effect are a few of its problems, but it received decent reviews for performances and direction.