HISTORY AND LEGEND ON FILM AND TV

by Tony-Scheinman | created - 10 Oct 2012 | updated - 15 Oct 2012 | Public

The following titles are a mixture of history, historical fiction and legend. While they are not in any particular order, each one of them is worth watching.

 Refine See titles to watch instantly, titles you haven't rated, etc
  • Instant Watch Options
  • Genres
  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • On TV
  • Release Year
  • Keywords





IMDb user rating (average) to
Number of votes to »




Reset



Reset
Release year or range to »




































































































1. The Last of the Mohicans (1971– )

344 min | Adventure, Drama, War

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A BBC classic serial adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's famous novel.

Stars: Andrew Crawford, Tim Goodman, Kenneth Ives, John Abineri

Votes: 155

The absolute best and most faithful adaptation of Cooper's novel I have ever seen! A bit wordy at times and the productions values aren't up to much by today's standards, but the acting is superb!

2. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

R | 112 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
76 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 124,490 | Gross: $75.51M

Of the film versions of Cooper's novel, this one is heads and shoulders above all the rest! Liberties are taken with the story and characters, but if you're not too much of a purist this film should be a part of your historical fiction library!

3. 1776 (1972)

G | 141 min | Drama, Family, History

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A musical retelling of the American Revolution's political struggle in the Continental Congress to declare independence.

Director: Peter H. Hunt | Stars: William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard, Donald Madden

Votes: 6,671 | Gross: $6.10M

The film version of the Broadway musical, and not only using almost all of the original actors from the stage version but also using events that really happened and lines the actual historical characters spoke! Now in a completely restored version.

4. The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970– )

540 min | Drama, History, Romance

8.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A six-episode dramatization of Henry VIII's relationships with each of his six wives. Each episode is devoted to one wife, and is a complete play in itself.

Stars: Keith Michell, Anthony Quayle, Patrick Troughton, Bernard Hepton

Votes: 1,046

In my opinion, Keith Michell completely supplanted Charles Laughton as the "perfect" Henry VIII!

5. Elizabeth R (1971– )

85 min | Biography, Drama

8.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

When Elizabeth Tudor comes to the throne, her (male) advisers know she has to marry. Doesn't she? Thus starts a decades-long political/ matrimonial game, during an age of high passions and high achievement.

Stars: Glenda Jackson, Ronald Hines, Robert Hardy, Stephen Murray

Votes: 1,296

Just as Keith Michell was the "perfect" Henry VIII, Glenda Jackson for many years was the ideal Queen Elizabeth I!

6. Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)

PG-13 | 128 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

During the sixteenth century, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots engages in over two decades of religious and political conflict with her cousin, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England, amidst political intrigue in her native land.

Director: Charles Jarrott | Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Patrick McGoohan, Timothy Dalton

Votes: 3,364

This was the perfect battle of rival queens, with Glenda Jackson re-creating her role as Elizabeth and Vanessa Redgrave bringing life to Mary. Of course, some historical facts have been altered, but that's just being picky.

7. Robin Hood (1984–1986)

60 min | Action, Fantasy, Drama

8.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A forest mystical being appoints two men in succession as the legendary outlaw defender of the oppressed.

Stars: Peter Llewellyn Williams, Ray Winstone, Mark Ryan, Clive Mantle

Votes: 3,211

When I first saw this series, I was a bit bothered at the mysticism that the series brought to the character and legend of Robin Hood, but the music of Clannad and the performances (not to mention how the writers reconciled the problem of two different Robin Hood legends) won me over at last!

8. The Legend of Robin Hood (1975– )

50 min

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Add a Plot

Stars: Martin Potter, Diane Keen, William Marlowe, Paul Darrow

Votes: 94

I remember this as a public television mini-series, but it was close to the traditional stories I read as a child, and as always the BBC provides actors and acting of incredible quality (especially Paul Darrow of BLAKE'S 7 fame as the slimy Sheriff of Nottingham!).

9. I, Claudius (1976)

Not Rated | 669 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

The history of the Roman Empire as experienced by one of its rulers.

Stars: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Siân Phillips, Brian Blessed

Votes: 12,588

No historical fiction library should be without THIS! An all-star cast, writing and acting of the highest quality and enough blood, sex and violence to satisfy anybody, all set against the grandeur, glory, might and decadence of Imperial Rome! I do advise that you read the two Robert Graves books it was based on before seeing the mini-series.

10. I, Claudius (1937)

Drama

The life and times of the Roman emperor Claudius (10 B.C.-A.D. 54).

Director: Josef von Sternberg | Stars: Charles Laughton, Merle Oberon, Emlyn Williams, Flora Robson

While this film is considered lost, enough scenes and clips have been found and put into a documentary about it ito assure me that this would have been a masterpiece if ever completed! Charles Laughton was fantastic as Claudius, as was Flora Robson as Livia. The documentary can be found as one of the extras on the BBC mini-series DVD set, and I strongly recommend that you see it.

11. Two of Us (2000 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 89 min | Biography, Drama, Music

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

John Lennon and Paul McCartney have a chat about their lives, and if "The Beatles" will ever reunite. The movie takes place in 1976.

Director: Michael Lindsay-Hogg | Stars: Aidan Quinn, Jared Harris, Ric Reid, Martin Martinuzzi

Votes: 752

This is one of those "What-If" films, in this case what would have happened if John Lennon and Paul McCartney had gotten together just before John's death. While purely fictyional, I think this film is good enough to be classfied as Historial Fiction and definitely worth seeing.

12. Roots (1977)

TV-14 | 570 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A dramatization of author Alex Haley's family line from ancestor Kunta Kinte's enslavement to his descendants' liberation.

Stars: LeVar Burton, Todd Bridges, Robert Reed, John Amos

Votes: 13,303

DEFINITLEY ANOTHER MUST-HAVE! This mini-series speaks for itself without any help from me! The acting is wonderful, the stories are rivetting and the production is unbelieveable! This is not just about history ... this IS history!

13. Roots: The Next Generations (1979)

840 min | Drama, History, War

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The dramatization of Alex Haley's family line from post Civil War America to the writer's search for his roots.

Stars: Dorian Harewood, Debbi Morgan, Paul Koslo, Stan Shaw

Votes: 1,959

See ROOTS above.

14. Roots: The Gift (1988 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 100 min | Drama, History

6.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The characters of Kunta Kinte and Fiddler from Roots are back in this movie. In this movie the two of them accompany their owner to another plantation at Christmas time and they learn that ... See full summary »

Director: Kevin Hooks | Stars: Louis Gossett Jr., LeVar Burton, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew

Votes: 365

See ROOTS and ROOTS: THE NEXT GENERATIONS. While a separate production from the mini-series, it's definitely a keeper!

15. The Great Train Robbery (1978)

PG | 110 min | Adventure, Crime, Drama

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
68 Metascore

In Victorian England, a master criminal makes elaborate plans to steal a shipment of gold from a moving train.

Director: Michael Crichton | Stars: Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley-Anne Down, Alan Webb

Votes: 12,827 | Gross: $13.03M

The facts are mostly true; only the details have been changed! There actually WAS a robbery from a moving train; only author/director Michael Crichton fictionalized the facts and details. Despite this, both the book and film are accurate representations of life in Victorian England and the performances of Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley Anne-Down keep everyone entertained.

16. The Winds of War (1983– )

883 min | Drama, Romance, War

8.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The trials of the Henry and Jastrow families in the early years of World War II.

Stars: Robert Mitchum, Ali MacGraw, Jan-Michael Vincent, John Houseman

Votes: 3,028

Another Must-have for a historical fiction library!

17. War and Remembrance (1988– )

1,620 min | Drama, War

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

The trials of the Henry and the Jastrow families amidst the events after the U.S.'s entry into World War II.

Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Seymour, Hart Bochner, Victoria Tennant

Votes: 2,047

See THE WINDS OF WAR.

18. Skokie (1981 TV Movie)

125 min | Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A dramatization of the controversial trial concerning the right for Neo-Nazis to march in the predominately Jewish community of Skokie.

Director: Herbert Wise | Stars: Danny Kaye, John Rubinstein, Carl Reiner, Kim Hunter

Votes: 289

If only for the performance of Danny Kaye, this is a keeper! More powerful performances I have rarely seen!

19. Gone with the Wind (1939)

G | 238 min | Drama, History, Romance

8.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
97 Metascore

A manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood | Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil

Votes: 238,388 | Gross: $198.68M

While personally not one of my favorite historical fiction dramas, I have to give the devil his due: this film is a masterfully done giant canvas captures the world of South during the Civil War at its best and its worst.

20. Tom Jones (1963)

Not Rated | 128 min | Adventure, Comedy, History

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The romantic and chivalrous adventures of adopted bastard Tom Jones in 18th century England.

Director: Tony Richardson | Stars: Albert Finney, Susannah York, George Devine, Rachel Kempson

Votes: 9,250 | Gross: $37.60M

You might not be able to get through the entire book by Henry Fieldling, but this film and the performances in it will help you get a lot more than just the gist! It earned every award it ever won!

21. The Duellists (1977)

PG | 100 min | Drama, War

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A small feud between two Napoleonic officers evolves into a decades-long series of duels.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Albert Finney, Edward Fox

Votes: 16,227

During the Napoleonic Wars, a duel fought between two officers from different backgrounds for no discernible reason turns into an obsession lasting years. The performances of Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine are beautiful (there's no other word for it!) and the time periods the feud covers are portrayed in a way that definitely shows that war in any time period is an ugly business.

22. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982)

540 min | Drama

8.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

A young, compassionate man struggles to save his family and friends from the abusive exploitation of his cold-hearted, grasping uncle.

Stars: Alun Armstrong, Suzanne Bertish, Janet Dale, Jane Downs

Votes: 415

The RSC outdid themselves when they brought Charles Dickens' novel to life! Dickens himself would have loved how his characters have been brought to life on stage in a way that no film version has matched before or since! In this stage production, all of the dirt, grime, and darkness rub shoulders with the light, upperclass finery and upperclass manners, and there are scenes that will touch your heart and shock you to the core as well as make you cheer at the downfall of the villains!

23. Excalibur (1981)

PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
56 Metascore

Merlin the magician helps Arthur Pendragon unite the Britons around the round table of Camelot even as forces conspire to tear it apart

Director: John Boorman | Stars: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi

Votes: 50,037 | Gross: $34.97M

The best adaptation of the King Arthur legend I've ever seen!

24. Quest for Fire (1981)

R | 100 min | Adventure, Drama, History

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

This story takes place in prehistoric time when three tribesmen search for a new fire source.

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud | Stars: Everett McGill, Ron Perlman, Nicholas Kadi, Rae Dawn Chong

Votes: 17,742 | Gross: $20.96M

Must be seen, if only for the original language created by Anthony Burgess and for its representations of the different levels of primitive/prehistoric Man.

25. Danton (1983)

PG | 136 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Action opens in November of 1793, with Danton returning to Paris from his country retreat upon learning that the Committee for Public Safety, under Robespierre's incitement, has begun a ... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Wajda | Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Wojciech Pszoniak, Anne Alvaro, Roland Blanche

Votes: 5,047

A marvelous dramatization of the conflicts between Danton and Robespierre during the French Revolution that would end in the destruction of one of them. One of Gerard Depardieu's lesser known works, but still one that shows his prowess with historical and literary roles.