Kurt Russell – This is the one exception on this list that isn’t just a character from a single movie. Chuck Norris got two hits, but Norris never really played different characters in his films. Russell is always changing and always doing roles that do America proud in one way or another.
This entire list was almost just based on Kurt Russell alone, as America’s greatest film patriot. But I held back, I gave him his own spot. Here we can talk about his ode to the blue collar in Big Trouble in Little China, his run for political office in Used Cars, his role as a pilot in the desolation of Antarctica in The Thing, and his leadership of soldiers plunging into the unknown in Stargate. The roles are there and they all great, making him deserving of such a salute.
John Winger (Stripes) – Here’s the story of a guy who had no real direction in life, joined the Army out of desperation, and then finds himself becoming a shining beacon of heroism.
We love a good rags to riches, nothing to something story here in America and Stripes is a good example. The spirit of rebellion from Animal House is present, but now it is in the military and now it’s getting some discipline. Winger goes from goof off to joining an elite group of soldiers in a matter of moments, but the seeds were planted from the start.
Not only that, but he goes out of his way to bust through enemy lines and save his captured comrades from Soviet Forces. He could’ve stayed knee deep in P.J. Soles, gallivanting around West Germany in their suped up van. Instead he mounts up and rides in to the rescue. That’s a patriotic hero.
The Wolverines (Red Dawn) – While the remake was silly and foolish for all the wrong reasons, the original from John Milius is a full on camp classic that takes the notion of an insurgency and gives it some high school flavor.
I have to include the entire group of Wolverines because they are a several teens that make up one strong unit. Their bonds are hard to break, taking torture and cheap spying on the behalf of the invading Soviets in order to split their ranks. Add in Powers Boothe as the fallen American pilot Lt. Col. Tanner and you have a recipe for some patriotic success.
You can’t forget the line up of names here either. Swayze, Sheen, Thompson, Grey, Howell. It’s a who’s who of prime 80s talent that was given every shot in the world to be successful. Some did and some didn’t, which is probably the most American thing about this movie. And let’s not overlook the presence of Harry Dean Stanton, giving the performance of a lifetime as a foolish old man who uses a Soviet invasion to justify the abuse of his kids. Classic America.