As we've repeatedly pointed out, in Hollywood the words "Based on a True Story" are usually just a code for "Vaguely Resembling a True Story, but Mostly Bullshit." Sometimes, the filmmakers feel like they have to lie and make up stuff to make the story more interesting -- but it turns out that other times, they actually have to cut stuff that really happened because it's all so awesome that no one would believe it.
Here are some mind-blowing moments from real life that Hollywood decided were too fantastic, even for their movies.
5Public Enemies -- John Dillinger Didn't Take Three People Hostage With a Wooden Gun ... He Took 17
About halfway through Public Enemies, a biopic of Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp), Dillinger manages to break himself out of jail by whittling a chunk of wood into a shape resembling a pistol, painting it black with shoe polish and then taking three guards hostage as he raided their weapons stores. By the time the guards realized the pistol was fake, Dillinger was already loaded up with real guns.
"Looks like you just got Dillingered."
According to director Michael Mann, when Dillinger escaped from that prison in real life, it wasn't three guards he tricked into imprisoning themselves like they showed in the movie -- it was 17. If our math is correct, that means that reality is almost six times as awesome as what we got. Dillinger himself wrote in a letter to his sister that it was actually eight deputies and 12 trusties (prisoners with special privileges), bringing the total number of people he duped with a piece of wood up to 20.
Even more impressive was the time he captured an armored car by disguising a hoagie as a bazooka.
Mann, however, decided to make the scene less realistic because it was already unbelievable enough with three hostages. Johnny Depp tricking a bunch of guards with some ridiculous ploy that ends up working seems like something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, not a biopic based on reality. There's just no way to put Depp on screen tricking more cops than the number of bullets they thought he had into locking themselves in a jail cell without it looking silly.
Then again, maybe we shouldn't be so surprised that the stunt worked, because the wooden gun apparently still exists, and it turns out that Dillinger cleverly wrote "Colt 38" on one side.
And "Actual Gun, Not a Piece of Wood" on the other.