Published on November 15th, 2014 | by Allan Brown5
Movies Based On A True Story….Or So We Thought #4
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 movie “Based On A True Story” all we ask is that you make the story, you know, kind of true.
The Hurricane is the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer who showcased amazing talent and potential, before he was falsely convicted of a triple murder and sentenced to 20 years behind bars, subsequently ending his boxing career.
However, after 20 years in prison as an innocent man convicted by a overtly racist system, three young white Canadians come to Rubin’s aid. After investing all their time and resources into fighting his case – after discovering a key piece of evidence – prove Hurricane’s Carters innocence and set the fella free.
In reality …
The scene showing Carter beat the a young white boxer (Joey Giardello) only to lose when the racially motivated judges award the fight to the opponent. In real life, Carter lost the fight so badly that the real Giardello sued the filmmakers over the scene, and received a generous settlement fee out of it.
But far more unsettling are the murders themselves. Now I’m not saying Rubin was in-fact culprit here, but I will point out that by his early teenage years, Hurricane Rubin Carter had already been arrested for assault and armed robbery. By 22, imprisoned twice for “brutal street muggings” . Later in his life, he was booted put the military after being court-martialed a staggering four times, being described as “unfit to serve.” But hey, that doesn’t mean he killed anyone, right?
Well, when it came to the murders, there was enough evidence to convict him twice (both times set aside due to procedural errors by the prosecution). Rubin Carter failed a lie detector test–miserably–and then was given a chance to retake it after he’d been imprisoned for a time. He refused. At his second trial, several witnesses who had provided Carter’s alibi, admitted they had been asked to lie for him.
But what about that evidence that proved his innocence? Well, there was in fact none. The judge was forced to throw out the conviction because the prosecution had failed to turn over some evidence, and thus didn’t give Carter a fair trial. The prosecution could have chosen to re-try the case from scratch to convict Carter a third time, but they decided it wasn’t worth doing since 22 years had passed and all of the people involved were either dead or on their last legs.
Of course the law is the law and the law said Carter should go free. But it’s probably not quite accurate to use Carter’s story as proof that the criminal justice system of that time was run by the KKK.
The Amityville Horror
The Amityville Horror is not only one of the most well-known horror films of the late 1970s, but perhaps one of the most infamous BASED ON A TRUE STORY haunted house tales of our time . The film accounts the story of George and Kathy Lutz who in December 1975, along with Kathy’s three children, moved into 112 Ocean Avenue – a large Dutch Colonial house in Amityville located on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Thirteen months before the Lutzes moved in, Ronald DeFeo, Jr. shot and killed six members of his family in the house, including his mother, father and 4 brothers and sisters in their beds, claiming demonic voices in his head had urged him to carry out the massacre.
Despite knowing the history surrounding the house prior, only 28 days after the Lutzes moved in, they left abruptly, claiming to have been terrorized by demonic spirits. Their account went on to spur countless best-selling novels and no less than 10 motion pictures.
In Reality …
The authenticity surrounding the Amityville Horror has always been shrouded in doubt and speculation. However, the truth was finally revealed when Ronald DeFeo’s lawyer, William Weber, admitted that he, along with the Kathy and George Lutz, “created this horror story over many bottles of wine”.
Weber had planned to use the haunting as a basis for a new trial for his client Ronald DeFeo, who was now destined to spend the rest of his days behind bars.
Despite both big claims and small details being refuted by eyewitnesses, investigations, and forensic evidence over and over again, the Lutzes stuck to their story, reaping tens of thousands of dollars from all the film and book rights their story generated.
Next time I will name and shame 2 more movies ”Based On A True Story….Or So We Thought”