Based on a true story (kind of)

by Alberto-7 | created - 04 Jan 2013 | updated - 1 month ago | Public

Some films that I have seen that are (somewhat) based on true events. I have not included sports films.

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1. Victory at Entebbe (1976 TV Movie)

Unrated | 119 min | Action, Drama, History

In 1976, terrorists hijack an Air France airplane, and divert it to Uganda, where they demand to exchange their hostages for fellow terrorists held in Israeli jails.

Director: Marvin J. Chomsky | Stars: Helmut Berger, Linda Blair, Kirk Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss

Votes: 859

A little too schmaltzy and overlong. Not as interesting as Raid on Entebbe.

2. Raid on Entebbe (1976 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 145 min | Action, Drama, History

True story of a daring Israeli commando assault on the Entebbe Airport in Uganda to free hostages of a terrorist hijacking.

Director: Irvin Kershner | Stars: Peter Finch, Charles Bronson, Yaphet Kotto, Martin Balsam

Votes: 2,470

The best of the three films on the Entebbe rescue with an in-form Charles Bronson and a great performance from Peter Finch.

3. Mivtsa Yonatan (1977)

PG | 124 min | Action, Drama, History

In July 1976, an Air France flight from Tel-Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked and forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. The Jewish passengers were separated and held hostage in demand to ... See full summary »

Director: Menahem Golan | Stars: Yehoram Gaon, Gila Almagor, Assi Dayan, Klaus Kinski

Votes: 702

This has the Israeli government's seal of approval but it isn't as engrossing as Raid on Entebbe.

4. Sword of Gideon (1986 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 173 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

Chronicles a Mossad team hand picked to hunt down the terrorists involved in the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes.

Director: Michael Anderson | Stars: Steven Bauer, Michael York, Robert Joy, Laurent Malet

Votes: 1,012

Solid made for Cable film with a great cast and lots of location work. Although based on the same book, this is better than Munich.

5. Munich (2005)

R | 164 min | Drama, History, Thriller

74 Metascore

Based on the true story of the Black September aftermath, about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josée Croze, Ciarán Hinds

Votes: 191,195 | Gross: $47.40M

This was good but not as well made as Sword of Gideon.

6. Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper (1981 TV Movie)

97 min | Drama, History, Thriller

A dramatized account of how the staff of the Canadian Embassy helped a group of American diplomats escape from Iran during the Iranian Revolution.

Director: Lamont Johnson | Stars: Gordon Pinsent, Chris Wiggins, Diana Barrington, Robert Joy

Votes: 116

Tense, character driven drama based on the escape of 6 Americans from Iran. I prefer this to Argo.

7. Argo (2012)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

86 Metascore

Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1979.

Director: Ben Affleck | Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin

Votes: 508,173 | Gross: $136.03M

Great start to the film but a ridiculously exaggerated, unreal ending spoiled it for me. I much prefer the more realistic Escape From Iran The Canadian Caper.

8. Operation Eichmann (1961)

Not Rated | 92 min | Drama

Werner Kelmperer stars as one of the most infamous mass murderers in all history in this true story. With the defeat of Germany that ends World War II in Europe, the Allies discover the ... See full summary »

Director: R.G. Springsteen | Stars: Werner Klemperer, Ruta Lee, Donald Buka, Barbara Turner

Votes: 123

Really, really bad.

9. The House on Garibaldi Street (1979 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama

Nazi's, in places not seen, almost invisible to the naked eye, travel to Bologna Italy starting a concentration kamfp there and discover a secret underground group thru payoffs to Interpol ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Collinson | Stars: Topol, Nick Mancuso, Janet Suzman, Martin Balsam

Votes: 252

Very tense and exciting with solid performances from Topol and Albert Burke. Great location filming in Spain doubling for Argentina.

10. The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, History, War

The story of the 1960 hostile extraction of the Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, by the Mossad to Israeli justice.

Director: William A. Graham | Stars: Robert Duvall, Arliss Howard, Jeffrey Tambor, Jack Laufer

Votes: 608

Ok film but much too slow and drawn out.

11. Passchendaele (2008)

R | 114 min | Drama, History, Romance

The lives of a troubled veteran, his nurse girlfriend and a naive boy intersect first in Alberta and then in Belgium during the bloody World War I battle of Passchendaele.

Director: Paul Gross | Stars: Paul Gross, Michael Greyeyes, James Kot, Jesse Frechette

Votes: 7,394

A little corny but still very good with spectacular war scenes. Paul Gross is a little old for the role but he still pulls it off.

12. Captain Phillips (2013)

PG-13 | 134 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

83 Metascore

The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the U.S.-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.

Director: Paul Greengrass | Stars: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Catherine Keener

Votes: 366,534 | Gross: $107.10M

Absolutely riveting film with a tour-de-force performance by Tom Hanks. The last hour is so intense you will not be able to breathe.

13. Charlie Wilson's War (2007)

R | 102 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

69 Metascore

A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.

Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams

Votes: 96,339 | Gross: $66.66M

Not too bad story but what is Julia Roberts doing in this?

14. Nirgendwo in Afrika (2001)

R | 141 min | Biography, Drama

72 Metascore

A German Jewish refugee family moves to and adjusts to a farm life in 1930s Kenya.

Director: Caroline Link | Stars: Juliane Köhler, Merab Ninidze, Matthias Habich, Sidede Onyulo

Votes: 11,379 | Gross: $6.17M

Beautiful film with great performances.

15. Safar e Ghandehar (2001)

Not Rated | 81 min | Biography, Drama, War

76 Metascore

After an Afghanistan-born woman who lives in Canada receives a letter from her suicidal sister, she takes a perilous journey through Afghanistan to try to find her.

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf | Stars: Nelofer Pazira, Hassan Tantai, Ike Ogut, Sadou Teymouri

Votes: 6,010 | Gross: $0.02M

Sad, sad film about people caught up in war and oppression. Will leave an impression on you for a long time.

16. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

PG | 112 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau

Votes: 97,388 | Gross: $43.00M

Clint Eastwood is too good to play the lead. Patrick McGoohan too over the top. This is what happens when Hollywood does what it likes. Still, there are some tense moments in the film.

17. Mountains of the Moon (1990)

R | 136 min | Adventure, Drama, History

The story of Captain Richard Francis Burton and Lt. John Hanning Speke's expedition to find the source of the Nile river in the name of Queen Victoria's British Empire. The film tells the ... See full summary »

Director: Bob Rafelson | Stars: Patrick Bergin, Iain Glen, Richard E. Grant, Fiona Shaw

Votes: 3,022 | Gross: $4.01M

Solid period piece.

18. Bhopal Express (1999)

100 min | Drama

From producer Deepak Nayer (Buena Vista Social Club, Lost Highway) comes this powerful drama about a newlywed couple whose lives are changed during the lethal gas tragedy in Bhopal, India in 1984.

Director: Mahesh Mathai | Stars: Kay Kay Menon, Nethra Raghuraman, Zeenat Aman, Vijay Raaz

Votes: 337

Gut-wrenching film on the Bhopal disaster. The only negative: What in heck is a Bollywood musical number doing in this?

19. In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I. Murders (1988 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 92 min | Crime, Action, Drama

Florida 1985: A series of brutal robberies and murders keeps the F.B.I busy. Although all crimes seem to be comitted by the same group, they can't hunt them down. The experienced officer ... See full summary »

Director: Dick Lowry | Stars: Ronny Cox, Bruce Greenwood, Michael Gross, Doug Sheehan

Votes: 668

Intense to the extreme. The final shootout with the FBI is as gritty as you can get.

20. Von Richthofen and Brown (1971)

PG-13 | 97 min | Action, Biography, Drama

The story of Manfred von Richthofen, the German air ace during World War I and his struggle with the enemy aces and some jealous German officers.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: John Phillip Law, Don Stroud, Barry Primus, Corin Redgrave

Votes: 851

Aerial combats are great but the acting is weak. Too bad.

21. Not Without My Daughter (1991)

PG-13 | 116 min | Drama, Thriller

An American woman, trapped in Islamic Iran by her brutish husband, must find a way to escape with her daughter as well.

Director: Brian Gilbert | Stars: Sally Field, Alfred Molina, Sheila Rosenthal, Roshan Seth

Votes: 10,643 | Gross: $14.79M

Sally Field is great in this.

22. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)

R | 112 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

57 Metascore

A journalist recounts her wartime coverage in Afghanistan.

Directors: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa | Stars: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina

Votes: 42,177 | Gross: $23.05M

This film does not know if it wants to be a comedy or a drama. Consequently, it falls flat and never gets us involved. Disappointing. Tina Fey is ok but can't save the movie. Billy Bob Thornton is about the only actor who pulls his weight. Don't bother with this one.

23. Sully (2016)

PG-13 | 96 min | Biography, Drama

74 Metascore

The story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight's passengers and crew.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Valerie Mahaffey

Votes: 175,902 | Gross: $125.07M

Terrific recreation of the 2009 landing on the Hudson river. Hanks is amazing as always and he is backed by a great supporting cast including Aaron Eckhart as the first officer. The crash scenes are tense and the rescue well set up. Overall top marks to Clint Eastwood and company.

24. Alien Thunder (1974)

PG | 93 min | Western

Based on an actual event, this is the tragic story of Saskatchewan fugitive Almighty Voice (Gordon Tootoosis), a Cree Indian who isarrested for stealing government livestock out of desperate hunger.

Director: Claude Fournier | Stars: Donald Sutherland, Gordon Tootoosis, Chief Dan George, Kevin McCarthy

Votes: 229

The true story this film tries to tell is very interesting and significant in the history of Canada. Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided to focus on the sensational and let their imaginations run wild which ruins the movie. Donald Sutherland does what he can with the poor script but he can't save this fiasco. The Saskatchewan landscapes are beautiful, thankfully.

25. Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990)

115 min | Biography, Drama, Romance

Bethune has long been a hero in China. Perhaps for reasons of politics and personality, however, his fame in North America lagged far behind. The film explores the complexity of a character... See full summary »

Director: Phillip Borsos | Stars: Donald Sutherland, Helen Mirren, Helen Shaver, Colm Feore

Votes: 289

Terrific biopic with a spectacular performance by Donald Sutherland as Dr. Norman Bethune. The story is epic in nature and the location filming in China adds greatly to the overall experience. Not to be missed.

26. Chaplin (1992)

PG-13 | 143 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

47 Metascore

A film about the troubled and controversial life of the master comedy filmmaker Charles Chaplin.

Director: Richard Attenborough | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, John Thaw

Votes: 47,301 | Gross: $9.49M

Robert Downey Jr. is actually not bad as Chaplin but I got the feeling that they were more interested in showing all the sleazy parts of his life and focus less on his brilliant cinematic career. This could have been so much better had they dealt more with the film making process.

27. The Thin Red Line (1998)

R | 170 min | Drama, War

78 Metascore

Adaptation of James Jones' autobiographical 1962 novel, focusing on the conflict at Guadalcanal during the second World War.

Director: Terrence Malick | Stars: Jim Caviezel, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Kirk Acevedo

Votes: 153,250 | Gross: $36.40M

One of the greatest war films of all time. Terence Malick's direction is sublime. The acting is mostly top notch and the location filming epic. Not to be missed.

28. Grey Owl (1999)

PG-13 | 118 min | Biography, Drama, Western

The story of the life and work of the Canadian fur trapper-turned-conservationist who claimed to be an aboriginal North American.

Director: Richard Attenborough | Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Stewart Bick, Vlasta Vrana, Annie Galipeau

Votes: 3,068 | Gross: $0.63M

Overly schmaltzy biopic which only covers a small part of Grey Owl's life. A lot of this film feels forced. At least the landscapes(Chelsea Quebec doubling for Northern Saskatchewan) are beautiful. Your enjoyment depends a great deal how much you like Pierce Brosnan.

29. Louis Cyr (2013)

123 min | Biography, Drama, History

Biopic of Louis Cyr, strongest man in the world at the end of the 19th Century.

Director: Daniel Roby | Stars: Antoine Bertrand, Guillaume Cyr, Rose-Maïté Erkoreka, Gilbert Sicotte

Votes: 1,308

Very good effort. The historical reconstruction is well done. The story fairly interesting.

30. The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)

Not Rated | 122 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

The feature adaptation of Roger Lewis' book about the actor best remembered as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies.

Director: Stephen Hopkins | Stars: Geoffrey Rush, Charlize Theron, Emily Watson, John Lithgow

Votes: 13,682

Geoffrey Rush is simply amazing in this but like most biopics, they have tried to cram too much into this. The focus on Sellers' troubled romances is given too much screen time. The whole bit about what happened during the shooting of Casino Royale should have been a lot better. Instead it falls flat. I have mixed feelings about this one.

31. The General (1926)

Not Rated | 67 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Directors: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton | Stars: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley

Votes: 65,915

Buster Keaton's masterpiece is simply that-a masterpiece.

32. The Terminal (2004)

PG-13 | 128 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

55 Metascore

An eastern immigrant finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chi McBride, Stanley Tucci

Votes: 343,235 | Gross: $77.87M

This film does not come close to telling the true story it was inspired by. Instead, it is a completely Hollywood re-imagining of the premise. As such it works extremely well . This is in no small part because of the winning performance by Tom Hanks.

33. Paris 1919: Un traité pour la paix (2009 TV Movie)

90 min | Documentary, Drama, History

A film about the Paris Peace Conference that negotiated the end of World War I with the Versailles Treaty.

Director: Paul Cowan | Stars: David Lowe, Paul Bandey, Yan Brian, Jean-Gabriel Nordmann

Votes: 111

Ok, this is mostly a documentary but there are enough historical recreations of the most important moments that justify me adding it to this list. A terrific docu-drama on an important moment in the history of the modern world.

34. Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983)

720 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A dramatization of the missions and adventures of the greatest spy in British history.

Stars: Sam Neill, Michael Bryant, Norman Rodway, Tom Bell

Votes: 1,130

Sam Neill is great in this. Some of his adventures strain credibility somewhat but overall this works.

35. Bridge of Spies (2015)

PG-13 | 142 min | Drama, History, Thriller

81 Metascore

During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda, Amy Ryan

Votes: 243,058 | Gross: $72.31M

Brilliant recreation of the cold war era with a tense script and great performances all around. A must see if you are interested in the history of the cold war.

36. We Bought a Zoo (2011)

PG | 124 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

58 Metascore

Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.

Director: Cameron Crowe | Stars: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning

Votes: 121,611 | Gross: $75.62M

This story gets the Disney treatment and is fine for what it is-a film for the entire family.

37. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

PG-13 | 135 min | Biography, Drama

72 Metascore

After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer

Votes: 716,024 | Gross: $170.74M

I get the feeling that they changed this story a great deal. Did not really enjoy this one.

38. Amadeus (1984)

R | 160 min | Biography, Drama, History

93 Metascore

The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporary composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart's talent and claimed to have murdered him.

Director: Milos Forman | Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice

Votes: 314,573 | Gross: $51.97M

Simply brilliant biopic.

39. Trumbo (2015)

R | 124 min | Biography, Drama

60 Metascore

In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.

Director: Jay Roach | Stars: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K.

Votes: 64,424 | Gross: $7.86M

This film gets the movie-of-the-week treatment. Bryan Cranston is great but the film feels rushed.

40. The King's Speech (2010)

R | 118 min | Biography, Drama

88 Metascore

The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

Director: Tom Hooper | Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi

Votes: 562,167 | Gross: $138.80M

Terrific film with a tour-de-force performance by Helena Bonham Carter. Colin Firth is also great. A real feel for the era.

41. The Elephant Man (1980)

PG | 124 min | Biography, Drama

77 Metascore

A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud

Votes: 188,172

Sensitive portrayal of the subject. A real underplayed film. John Hurt is simply sublime in the title role.

42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

R | 111 min | Action, Biography, Crime

81 Metascore

Bonnie Parker, a bored waitress falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, stealing cars and robbing banks.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard, Gene Hackman

Votes: 88,889

Warren Beatty really surprised me in this. He turned the character into a three dimensional person and not a caricature. Great cast and real feel for the 1930s.

43. Raging Bull (1980)

R | 129 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

92 Metascore

Emotionally self-destructive boxer, Jake La Motta's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent

Votes: 269,523 | Gross: $23.38M

Intense to the extreme like a punch to the gut. Terrific cast.

44. Ed Wood (1994)

R | 127 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

70 Metascore

Ambitious but troubled movie director Edward D. Wood Jr. tries his best to fulfill his dreams, despite his lack of support.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette

Votes: 152,278 | Gross: $5.89M

Very, very funny biopic which never takes itself seriously. Martin Landau steals the show here.

45. Gandhi (1982)

PG | 191 min | Biography, Drama, History

79 Metascore

Gandhi's character is fully explained as a man of nonviolence. Through his patience, he is able to drive the British out of the subcontinent. And the stubborn nature of Jinnah and his commitment towards Pakistan is portrayed.

Director: Richard Attenborough | Stars: Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox

Votes: 197,072 | Gross: $52.77M

Sweeping epic film that is unforgettable.

46. La Bamba (1987)

PG-13 | 108 min | Biography, Drama, Music

65 Metascore

Biographical story of the rise from nowhere of early rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens who died at age 17 in a plane crash with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.

Director: Luis Valdez | Stars: Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña

Votes: 23,587 | Gross: $54.22M

Ok for what it is. A good film to see on a rainy day.

47. Midnight Express (1978)

R | 121 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

59 Metascore

Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.

Director: Alan Parker | Stars: Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli

Votes: 61,384 | Gross: $35.00M

I read the book and the movie does not do it justice. Too many things have been changed. Nonetheless this is a very harrowing story.

48. Capote (2005)

R | 114 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

88 Metascore

In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.

Director: Bennett Miller | Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Clifton Collins Jr., Catherine Keener, Allie Mickelson

Votes: 111,573 | Gross: $28.75M

Seymour Philip Hoffman is sublime as Truman Capote.

49. The Last King of Scotland (2006)

R | 123 min | Biography, Drama, History

74 Metascore

Based on the events of the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin's regime as seen by his personal physician during the 1970's.

Director: Kevin Macdonald | Stars: James McAvoy, Forest Whitaker, Gillian Anderson, Kerry Washington

Votes: 158,949 | Gross: $17.61M

Intense film with a great performance by Forest Whitaker. The film builds suspense slowly but ultimately delivers.

50. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)

R | 121 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama