You won’t find any frantic, ”Moulin Rouge”-style editing in this stately musical about America’s founding fathers struggling to ratify the Declaration of Independence. Full of long, deliberate camera moves, this adaptation of the Broadway hit is about character, not choreography (despite Oscar winner Onna White’s contributions). William Daniels (”St. Elsewhere”) hits a career high as John Adams, abetted ably by Howard Da Silva as Ben Franklin, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, and Blythe Danner as Jefferson’s perky wife (she sings a sweetly dirty waltz about her hubby’s sexual prowess).
A commentary from writer Peter Stone and director Peter H. Hunt reveals that of the half hour that was axed from the film (it’s now restored and mightily improved from the scruffy laserdisc), the cruelest cut was the conservative-tweaking song ”Cool, Considerate Men” — which then President Richard Nixon asked producer Jack Warner to remove. The number is at last in its rightful place, sporting the same pumped-up surround-sound brassiness that graces the entire disc.