Based on a True Story: Fact and Fantasy in 100 Favorite Movies

Overview

Exposing the real stories behind 100 hit reality-based movies, this captivating resource offers interesting facts about some of the most well-respected and much-loved films. For both film buffs and casual moviegoers, this invaluable guide explores Hollywood's ardent and often uncomfortable relationship with the factual accounts it converts into fantasy. Illuminating films such as A Beautiful Mind, Adaptation, Apollo 13, Black Hawk Down, Catch Me If You Can, Erin Brockovich, The French Connection, The Perfect ...

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Overview

Exposing the real stories behind 100 hit reality-based movies, this captivating resource offers interesting facts about some of the most well-respected and much-loved films. For both film buffs and casual moviegoers, this invaluable guide explores Hollywood's ardent and often uncomfortable relationship with the factual accounts it converts into fantasy. Illuminating films such as A Beautiful Mind, Adaptation, Apollo 13, Black Hawk Down, Catch Me If You Can, Erin Brockovich, The French Connection, The Perfect Storm, and Titanic, this work reveals how Hollywood alters history for movie fans, leaving filmgoers often unable to tell the difference between fact and fiction. A riveting examination, this volume focuses on alterations to the "true story" such as concocted love affairs, annoyingly obvious character motivations, trumped-up endings, bigger explosions, more car crashes, and spontaneous songs, all created for the sake of entertainment.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Films that purportedly document real-life events have a special allure for moviegoers, posit journalists Vankin and Whalen, which is why the phrase "based on a true story" is so prevalent in movie promos. But the term is loose and poorly defined, and in this highly entertaining dissection, the authors examine 100 films, detailing what about them is really true and what's simply a story. Wittily working their way through most of the well-known "true" films of the last four decades-Adaptation, Catch Me If You Can, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Amityville Horror, etc.-Vankin and Whalen categorize movies by type (e.g., crime thrillers, war movies, sports films). Sometimes, what's on the screen diverges wildly from known history, as in the case of Braveheart, and Vankin and Whalen may be overwhelmed by the differences between truth and fiction. Less often, a film really does provide a mirror, like Coal Miner's Daughter, which left only more subtle details of Loretta Lynn's life for the authors to explore. Most of the movies, though, fall between the extremes, including enough fact to warrant the "based on a true story" tag, but not accurate enough to be completely true. Not surprisingly, readers who've actually seen these films stand to get the most out of Vankin and Whalen's often picky but always jaunty analyses. 110 b&w photos. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Vankin and Whalen present 100 reviews of movies that have been designated by Hollywood production studios as "based on fact." Grouped into genres such as "True Crime" or "Out of the Past," the reviews provide background into the fictionalization and the facts behind each of the selected films. Few of the movies, the authors point out, bear resemblance to actual events, people, or actions upon which they were supposedly based. Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte de Loups), for example, seems to contain more legend and theorizing behind its "facts" for the simple reason that little is known of the true events that took place between 1764 and 1767 in a rural province of France. The movie, the authors suggest, becomes somewhat of a mix of genres-science fiction, horror, mystery. The bottom line, it is pointed out, is that movies are made for entertainment. As such, they are, more often than not, creatively altered. The entries are chock-full of interesting details, historical backgrounds, production stories, and other bits and pieces. While certain to appeal to movie fans and those interested in theater, the information-packed reviews offer enticing reading for just about everyone.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556525599
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen are the authors of The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time. Both are award-winning journalists whose writing has appeared in L.A. Weekly, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Salon. They have appeared together on the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

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