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Hollywood History Showdown: Discussions

Posted By - Brian Falk
Feb 23, 2010 at 1:24pm | Filed Under “Hollywood History S...

“The Best American History Movies NEVER Made”

As we at the American Film Company have endeavored to turn American history into movies, I've been struck by how many amazing true stories have not been given the green light. There are two reasons for this: first, Hollywood's formula for commercial success has only included the history genre sparingly, and second, there are so many incredible stories that it would take a company solely dedicated to producing only American history movies many years to make a dent in this enormous stockpile. Luckily, that company now exists and we're hammering away every day.

So, this is a discussion about those fascinating pieces of American history that have not made it to the silver screen. And by "fascinating" I don't necessarily mean "popular." I'll get the ball rolling with three American history stories that, as far as I know, have never been made into a motion picture (but should be):

1. THE BRADDOCK CAMPAIGN: British General Edward Braddock attempts to deliver a decisive blow in the French-Indian War, accompanied by a young and brash militia officer named George Washington.

2. THE MAYFLOWER: that's right, the ship that brought the pilgrims. May not be a laugh-a-minute, but you can't beat the conflict.

3. JOHN HENRY: Not just a folktale about a man who beat a steam shovel and died with his hammer in his hand. Recent scholarship suggests that John Henry may have been the real deal.

Keep reading for my own personal ground rules:

Here are my own ground rules for this discussion (feel free to challenge these):

(1) We're talking about movies here, so documentaries, home movies, plays/musicals, and anything involving sock puppets don't count.

(2) American history is 1492-1992 (okay, 1992 is a bit arbitrary but makes a nice 500-year span, and, I'd argue that anything after 1992 falls into the category of "recent non-fiction" as opposed to history).

(3) the story can involve an American abroad (think WWII, etc.), but MUST have an American or Americans to count as American history.

(4) History is defined here as real things that happened with real people, not historical fiction.

And, by the way, if you find that a real movie exists where someone says it doesn't, great! Although nobody likes to receive a public shaming (least of all me), it always helps to have our knowledge of cinema expanded.

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  • 1809
    05/18/2012 at 2:26pm

    1809

    I always thought a film about John Tyler's presidency would be captivating.

    So much drama! Death, in-fighting, action (USS Princeton explosion), a strong-headed President who worked to make deals even without the support of his party. Ended up becoming an enemy of the US near the end of his life during the Civil War, despite some efforts made to intervene in the months leading up to the war with Buchanan's administration.

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  • sonofkenny
    04/22/2012 at 4:57pm

    sonofkenny

    Well there has never been a truly good account of the American Revolution..."The Crossing" was better than most, but highly flawed. So my wish would be for one really decent movie on this.

    Also, movie recounting the COnstitutional convention could also be riveting...

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  • Dscriptboy
    04/17/2012 at 12:00pm

    Dscriptboy

    In 1780, George Washington asked 23 year old John Champe to defect over to the British in order to capture the American traitor Benedict Arnold. Champe defected and became a close confidant of Arnold's. It's a great story that should be a film.

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  • Bdoon
    04/15/2012 at 12:31am

    Bdoon

    How about a film about Champlain...the real Father of Canada? Or the greatest machismo who ever lived...Hernando Cortez?

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  • Bdoon
    04/15/2012 at 12:29am

    Bdoon

    Comment one about the Mayflower...I agree as long as the truth is told...how within a few decades these Puritans were landgrabbing from Native Americans, turning tribes against tribes , killing Native American women and children with fire and sword , burning "witches" and slaughtering French Canadian Catholics for defending the Native peoples who the French treated like real people (granted as much from necessity as choice, but nevertheless much better than the English or Spanish, the other two winners in the Euro free for all in first Nation America).

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Brian Falk

President, The American Film Company

Brian Falk recently directed GHOSTS OF THE PACIFIC for The American Film Company. His producing credits include THE CONSPIRATOR and PARKLAND. Brian has also produced more than eighty hours of broadcast news, documentaries, and television series worldwide for a variety of outlets including PBS,... More

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