Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ten Movies on an Island: Biographical

Flynn as Custer, right before his last stand.

A Biographical film is
a film that dramatizes the life of a non-fictional or historically-based person or people. Such films show the life of a historical person and the central character’s real name is used. They differ from films "based on a true story" or “historical drama films" in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a person’s life story or at least the most historically important years of their lives (source).
Biographical films have been made and remade since the beginning of cinema. Presidents, Military Heros, Inventors, Musicians, Saints, Athletes, Kings and Queens, and even Actors and Actresses have all been subjects of these films which seek to memorialize an individual for something they have done. And while normally I am not a huge fan of true stories (which usually mean sad or bitter-sweet endings), there are a few that I am especially fond of:
1. The Great Ziegfeld (1936) - William Powell as Florenz Ziegfeld, Luise Rainer as Anna Held, Myrna Loy as Billie Burke
2. The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939) - Don Ameche as Alexander Graham Bell, Loretta Young as Mabel
3. They Died with Their Boots On (1941) - Errol Flynn as General George Armstrong Custer, Olivia de Havilland as his wife Libby
4. Gentleman Jim (1942) - Errol Flynn as Boxer Jim Corbett, with Ward Bond, Alexis Smith, Jack Carson
5. Song of Bernadette (1943) - Jennifer Jones as St. Bernadette Soubirous
6. So Goes My Love (1946) - Don Ameche as Inventor Hiram Maxim, Myrna Loy as his wife Jane Budden
7. Houdini (1953) - Tony Curtis as Harry Houdini, Janet Leigh as his wife Bess
8. Sunrise at Campobello (1960) - Ralph Bellamy as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Greer Garson as Eleanor Roosevelt
9. PT-109 (1963) - Cliff Robertson as John F. Kennedy
10. Funny Girl (1968) - Barbra Streisand as Actress Fanny Brice, Omar Sharif as first husband Nick Arnstein
My favorite modern Biopics: Rudy (1993) - Sean Astin as Rudy Ruettiger, The Queen (2006) - Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, Becoming Jane (2007) - Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen, The Young Victoria (2008) - Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria,  The King's Speech (2010) - Colin Firth as Prince Albert/King George VI.

What are your favorite biographical films?

Tomorrow, my Top Ten Horror/Ghost/Sci-fi!


  1. I love biopics, but oddly enough, I've only seen two of all the films you mentioned: "The Great Ziegfeld" and "The Queen."

    My favorite biographical films (so far): "The Pride of the Yankees" (1942), "The Stratton Story" (1949), "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967), "Chaplin" (1992), "Schindler's List" (1993), "Remember the Titans" (2000), "Anne Frank: The Whole Story" (2001), "James Dean" (2001), "The Pianist" (2002), "Elvis" (2005), "Lords of Dogtown" (2005), "Walk the Line" (2005), "Hollywoodland" (2006), "Into the Wild" (2007), "La Vie en Rose" (2007), "Zodiac" (2007), "The Red Baron" (2008), "The Social Network" (2010) and "The Theory of Everything" (2014). Like I said - I love biopics. :)

    1. I want to see Pride of the Yankees and The Theory of Everything. I like Remember the Titans and Walk the Line. I haven't seen any of the others you listed.

  2. Wow, I haven't seen any of these. Probably a solid sign that biopics aren't usually my thing, although I do like some more modern biopics like "The Aviator," "Cinderella Man," and "The Imitation Game." I may have to find "Houdini" though since he fascinates me.

    1. The only ones that really feel like biopics are Ziegfeld and Funny Girl. The rest just feel like classic movies :) So Goes my Love is hilarious and a must for any Ameche fan and de Havilland gives a beautiful performance in They Died with Their Boots On. It was aloso the last film she made with Flynn. Hope you get a chance to watch some of them!

  3. I'd throw in Walk the Line and The Life of Emile Zola.

    1. Walk the Line is fantastic. Phoenix is amazing in it! Haven't seen the other one yet!

  4. Eek! Of these, I've only seen Funny Girl, Rudy, and The King's Speech.

    Biopics I like:

    Beyond the Sea (Bobby Darin)
    Walk the Line
    42 (Jackie Robinson)
    Miss Potter (Beatrix Potter)
    Amazing Grace (William Wilberforce)

    I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting, but it's past my bedtime.

    1. You definitely need to watch "They Died with..." I'll be posting on it for the de Havilland blogathon :)

    2. Just checked, and it's not on the Errol Flynn collection I bought recently. Onto my wish list it goes!