Features lean on me poster, rudy poster

Published on July 22nd, 2013 | by Allan Brown


Movies Based On A True Story….Or So We Thought #2


We don’t ask a lot from our movies but sometimes a film comes along that takes on special credence and extra meaning especially when it’s been marketed as ‘based on a true story’. The simple thought of knowing someone has lived through the events being played out on screen adds a weight which in turn helps encapsulate it’s audience. However if you’re going to tag a movies Based On A True Story all we ask is that you make the story, you know, kind of true.


Lean On Me

Lean_on_Me_true-story-movie-review-worldThe Hollywood Version:

Joe Clark is the kind of man don’t mess with him. When Paterson, New Jersey’s Eastside High School found itself on the brink of being taken over by the state due to poor test results, Clark is brought on board as principal to shake things up and correct the sinking ship.

And correct it he did, by fighting expelled students in the hall and throwing chains and padlocks on the doors. After all, if Joe Clark was going to go out in a blaze of glory, he was going to take as many students with him as possible. In the end, thanks to a hip new school song and the bullying ways of Principal Clark, Eastside saw a meteoric rise in its test results which ultimately saves the school.

In reality …

Apart from the fact that the test scores never really improved, or that the state takeover had never actually been threatened, or the various ways they changed facts just to make sure the audience was aware that Joe Clark was a bad man, it’s pretty close to the real story. That is to say, a man named Joe Clark did serve as principal at Eastside High for a short time at the end of the ’80s.

The biggest goal of the filmmakers was apparently to make Clark as menacing as possible, giving him a bullhorn with which to more loudly crush the spirits of students and faculty alike, and having Morgan Freeman spend the entire film wearing such a fierce scowl that you’d swear someone just shit in his sandwich.

Here’s the punchline to the whole thing, though: One year after Clark resigned and less than two years after the film’s release, the state came in and took control of the school. And since they weren’t actually threatening to take over in the first place, it is widely assumed they got the idea from the movie.



Rudy-true-story-movie-review-worldThe Hollywood Version:

Back in the 70s, there was a plucky young American football player who dreamed of nothing other than playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Unfortunately for young Rudy, his support system consisted of people who went out of their way to point out his flaws, of which there were many, and let him know repeatedly that “Son, how many times I gotta tell you, goals are for chumps!”

When Rudy’s best friend is victim to a freak accident,it inspires him to play football. And play he did, no thanks to the evil scheming of Notre Dame coach Dan Devine, who only allowed Rudy on the field after the entire team threatened to walk out otherwise.

In reality …

The real life Dan Devine was actually the one who insisted on playing Rudy in his final game. Even when the movie was being made, Devine gave the filmmakers permission to turn him into the film’s villain in order to help Rudy, who he considered a good friend.

So naturally he was repaid for his kindnesses by being turned into the mr burns of college football, and forever being remembered as the coach whom winning football games was more important than anything else. Ensuring that Rudy’s dream would die.

Further note, ever wonder who saw Rudy play that day and got so inspired he just had to make it into a movie? Nobody. It was Rudy himself who spent a full decade trying to convince studios that his life was so awesome it deserved a movie, before one of them finally relented.


Next time I will name and shame 2 more movies Based On A True Story….Or So We Thought

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Despite my 9-5 being consumed by the daily duties of an Electrician, Movie Review World serves as a platform for me to share my thoughts, explorations and reflections on one of my biggest passions, film.

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