American Historical Films

by JakeMercierFilms | created - 5 months ago | updated - 1 month ago | Public

American historical films chronologically showing our rich history from 1607-2012.

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1. The New World (2005)

PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama, History

69 Metascore

The story of the English exploration of Virginia, and of the changing world and loves of Pocahontas.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Colin Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale

Votes: 78,844 | Gross: $12.71M


2. The Crucible (1996)

PG-13 | 124 min | Drama, History

A Salem resident attempts to frame her ex-lover's wife for being a witch in the middle of the 1692 witchcraft trials.

Director: Nicholas Hytner | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder, Paul Scofield, Joan Allen

Votes: 33,276 | Gross: $7.34M


3. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

R | 112 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

76 Metascore

Three trappers protect the daughters of a British Colonel in the midst of the French and Indian War.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig

Votes: 137,058 | Gross: $75.51M


4. The Crossing (2000 TV Movie)

89 min | Biography, Drama, History

A dramatization of George Washington's perilous gamble of crossing the Delaware River and attacking the Hessian forces at Trenton.

Director: Robert Harmon | Stars: Jeff Daniels, Roger Rees, Sebastian Roché, Steven McCarthy

Votes: 1,684


5. John Adams (2008)

TV-14 | 71 min | Biography, Drama, History

The life of one of the USA's Founding Fathers, its second President, and his role in the nation's first 50 years.

Stars: Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, John Dossett, Stephen Dillane

Votes: 25,276


6. Thomas Jefferson (1997– )

180 min | Documentary, History

A biographical film about The United States' influential and profoundly enigmatic Founding Father.

Stars: Ossie Davis, Joseph Ellis, John Hope Franklin, Gwyneth Paltrow

Votes: 531


7. Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (1997 TV Movie)

TV-G | 240 min | Documentary, Adventure, Biography

The story of the most important American exploration expedition in American history and the participants in it.

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: Hal Holbrook, Adam Arkin, John Logan Allen, Stephen Ambrose

Votes: 978


8. The War of 1812 (2011)

TV-PG | 120 min | Drama, War

For two and a half years, Americans fought Against the British, Canadian colonists, and native nations. In the years to come, the War of 1812 would be celebrated in some places and ... See full summary »

Directors: Diane Garey, Lawrence Hott | Stars: Christopher Kozak, Joe Mantegna, Craig Williams

Votes: 104


9. The Birth of a Nation (2016)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History

69 Metascore

Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising.

Director: Nate Parker | Stars: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Penelope Ann Miller, Jackie Earle Haley

Votes: 18,556 | Gross: $15.86M


10. The Alamo (2004)

PG-13 | 137 min | Drama, History, War

47 Metascore

Based on the 1836 standoff between a group of Texan and Tejano men, led by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and Mexican dictator Santa Anna's forces at the Alamo in San Antonio Texas.

Director: John Lee Hancock | Stars: Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Emilio Echevarría, Jason Patric

Votes: 18,655 | Gross: $22.41M

March - April 1836

11. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

R | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

96 Metascore

In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

Director: Steve McQueen | Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Kenneth Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt

Votes: 580,976 | Gross: $56.67M


12. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: The Cause (1861) (1990)

TV-PG | 100 min | Documentary, History, War

Slavery began to flourish in the U.S. at the end of the 18th century with Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin. Whereas it would take one person a day to produce a pound of clean ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Shelby Foote, Barbara Fields, Ed Bearss

Votes: 280

1854- July 1861

13. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: A Very Bloody Affair (1862) (1990)

TV-PG | 69 min | Documentary, History, War

By 1862, both sides had 1 million men in uniform across a 1000 mile battle front ranging from Manassas, Virginia to Missouri. Battles had taken a horrendous toll in human lives on both ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Shelby Foote, Sam Waterston, Julie Harris

Votes: 239

1861-April 1862

14. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

R | 178 min | Western

90 Metascore

A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Director: Sergio Leone | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffrè

Votes: 628,341 | Gross: $6.10M

February – April 1862; New Mexico Campaign

15. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: Forever Free (1862) (1990)

TV-PG | 76 min | Documentary, History, War

While Gen. McClellan sat outside Richmond, three Union armies were being kept occupied by Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart in northwestern Virginia. Lee was named commander of the army ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Barbara Fields, Shelby Foote, William Safire

Votes: 224

April-September 1862

16. Gangs of New York (2002)

R | 167 min | Crime, Drama

72 Metascore

In 1862, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father's killer.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jim Broadbent

Votes: 373,566 | Gross: $77.81M


17. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: Simply Murder (1863) (1990)

TV-PG | 61 min | Documentary, History, War

By early 1863, Union soldiers with the Army of the Potomac had not been paid for 6 months and supplies were thin. Some 200 men were deserting every day and by January one-quarter of the men... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: Barbara Fields, Paul Roebling, James Symington, Sam Waterston

Votes: 214

1863-Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863)

18. Gods and Generals (2003)

PG-13 | 219 min | Biography, Drama, History

30 Metascore

The rise and fall of legendary war hero Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson as he leads the Confederacy to great success against the Union from 1861 to 1863.

Director: Ron Maxwell | Stars: Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels, Donzaleigh Abernathy

Votes: 14,583 | Gross: $12.87M

1861-May 1863 (Backstory of Stonewall Jackson until his death at Chancellorsville).

19. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: The Universe of Battle (1863) (1990)

TV-PG | 96 min | Documentary, History, War

In trying to draw Union troops away from the siege of Vicksburg, Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania and over three days 150,000 men would do battle at Gettysburg. Confederate soldiers had ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Shelby Foote, Barbara Fields, Daisy Turner

Votes: 205

May 18, 1863 (Siege of Vicksburg)—Sept. 20, 1863 (Battle of Chickamauga)

20. Glory (1989)

R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History

78 Metascore

Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 113,609 | Gross: $26.83M

September 17, 1862 (Battle of Antietam)-July 18, 1863 (Fort Wagner)

21. The Beguiled (1971)

R | 105 min | Drama, Thriller, War

66 Metascore

While imprisoned in a Confederate girls' boarding school, an injured Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women's hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman, Jo Ann Harris

Votes: 14,248

December 1862-July 1863; Vicksburg Campaign

22. Dances with Wolves (1990)

PG-13 | 181 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

72 Metascore

Lieutenant John Dunbar, assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Director: Kevin Costner | Stars: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant

Votes: 221,893 | Gross: $184.21M


23. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: Valley of the Shadow of Death (1864) (1990)

TV-PG | 69 min | Documentary, History, War

By 1864, Union forces had the upper hand, though the end of war was not yet in sight. President Lincoln named U.S. Grant overall commander of the Union army, 533,000 strong and the largest ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Shelby Foote, Ed Bearss, Sam Waterston

Votes: 197

Beginning of 1864-Summer of 1864

24. Gettysburg (1993)

PG | 271 min | Drama, History, War

In 1863, the Northern and Southern forces fight at Gettysburg in the decisive battle of the American Civil War.

Director: Ron Maxwell | Stars: Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, Stephen Lang, Richard Jordan

Votes: 24,578 | Gross: $10.77M

June-July 1863

25. Cold Mountain (2003)

R | 154 min | Adventure, Drama, History

73 Metascore

In the waning days of the American Civil War, a wounded soldier embarks on a perilous journey back home to Cold Mountain, North Carolina to reunite with his sweetheart.

Director: Anthony Minghella | Stars: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Eileen Atkins

Votes: 132,658 | Gross: $95.64M

July 30, 1864 (Battle of Crater)-end of 1864

26. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: War Is All Hell (1865) (1990)

TV-PG | 69 min | Documentary, History, War

By the beginning of 1865, the Confederacy was coming to an end. Atlanta had been overrun and Sherman was marching to the sea. Lincoln approved Sherman's plan against the advice of those ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Shelby Foote, Ed Bearss, James Symington

Votes: 192

27. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: Most Hallowed Ground (1864) (1990)

TV-PG | 72 min | Documentary, History, War

By the summer of 1864, the Union push had been stopped. At Petersburg, Union troops had been entrenched in an intricate network trenches for two months. The key to victory lay in Sherman ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Shelby Foote, Ed Bearss, Stephen B. Oates

Votes: 196

Summer of 1864-December 1864

28. Andersonville (1996)

167 min | Drama, History, War

The story of the most notorious Confederate prisoner of war camp in the American Civil War.

Stars: Jarrod Emick, Frederic Forrest, Ted Marcoux, Carmen Argenziano

Votes: 1,688


29. Lincoln (2012)

PG-13 | 150 min | Biography, Drama, History

86 Metascore

As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Votes: 229,635 | Gross: $182.21M

January 1865-April 1865

30. The Civil War (1990)
Episode: The Better Angels of Our Nature (1865) (1990)

TV-PG | 68 min | Documentary, History, War

The North celebrated Lee's surrender and the end of the war. On April 14, Good Friday, John Wilkes Booth learned that President Lincoln, General Grant and others were to attend a play at ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns | Stars: David McCullough, Barbara Fields, Shelby Foote, James Symington

Votes: 191

31. The Conspirator (2010)

PG-13 | 122 min | Crime, Drama, History

55 Metascore

Mary Surratt is the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, she is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.

Director: Robert Redford | Stars: Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson, Kevin Kline

Votes: 26,489 | Gross: $11.54M

April - July 1865

32. Reconstruction: America after The Civil War (2019– )


A comprehensive and compelling history of the United States immediately following the Civil War.

Stars: Mark Lund, Andia Winslow, Henry Louis Gates

Votes: 68


33. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 133 min | Drama, History, Western

A historic chronicle based on the book by Dee Brown explains how Native Americans were displaced as the United States expanded west.

Director: Yves Simoneau | Stars: Aidan Quinn, Adam Beach, August Schellenberg, Anna Paquin

Votes: 5,598

1860s - 1870s

34. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

R | 160 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

68 Metascore

Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.

Director: Andrew Dominik | Stars: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker

Votes: 157,569 | Gross: $3.90M


35. There Will Be Blood (2007)

R | 158 min | Drama

93 Metascore

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, Martin Stringer

Votes: 466,607 | Gross: $40.22M

36. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014– )

TV-14 | 795 min | Documentary, Biography, History

A documentary that weaves together the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.

Stars: Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann, George Will, Doris Kearns Goodwin

Votes: 1,793

37. Prohibition (2011– )

360 min | Documentary, History

The story of the American activist struggle against the influence of alcohol, climaxing in the failed early 20th century nationwide era when it was banned.

Stars: Peter Coyote, Pete Hamill, Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Michael Lerner

Votes: 2,326

38. The American West (2016– )

TV-14 | 43 min | Drama, History, Western

This series will provide unprecedented access to the wilderness, frontier lawlessness, and bloodshed of the 40 years between the end of the American Civil War and after the turn of the 20th... See full summary »

Stars: Mark Lee Gardner, Bert Thomas Morris, David H. Stevens, Will Strongheart

Votes: 1,051

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