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.
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