5 Movies Based on True Stories (with Depressing Epilogues)

#2. Conviction -- The Wrongly Incarcerated Man Died Six Months After Being Released

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Conviction is the inspiring true-life story of Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell), a man sentenced to life in prison for a murder he didn't commit, and his sister, Betty Anne (Hilary Swank), who promised to get him out. How do we know it's inspiring? Because check out the music in this damn trailer:

OK, that's a movie where you know you're gonna leave the cinema smiling like a moron, with a renewed faith in mankind. And sure enough, the movie shows how Betty Anne, a single mother working as a waitress, put herself through law school, spent 18 years trying to clear her brother's name, and finally succeeded. She was so convinced her brother was innocent that, using previously overlooked DNA evidence, she managed to overturn his convic- ohhhh, we just got the name of the movie.

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Unfortunately, it lost the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Double-Meaning Film Title to You Don't Know Jack.

The movie ends with Kenny a free man and text letting us know that, years later, the City of Ayer formally apologized to the Waters family by way of $3 million. Woo!

The Unpleasant Epilogue:

Unfortunately, Kenny never saw a dime of the civil settlement, because he was dead just six months after leaving prison. One night he decided to pay his brother a visit. Because prison had already robbed enough of his time, Waters did not feel like walking the long way to his brother's house, so he took a shortcut instead, and by shortcut we mean he tried to scale a 15-foot wall. He slipped, fell down the wall, and that's as much detail as you'll get from a comedy website. His sister hasn't taken a case since.

Giles Price
It takes a lot to end 18 years of dedication with: "Fuck it, I'm out."

The studio even did some screenings with the crawl "Tragically, Kenny Waters died six months after release from prison" at the end, but test audiences were put off by it. To be fair, we'd feel the same way if at the end of Star Wars, they put up text saying "The Empire killed everyone 15 minutes after the ceremony." The sleazy part is that they didn't even allow a simple "For Kenny" at the end, because it would raise too many questions, and this is a feel-good movie, dammit! It's supposed to make you cry, not think.

#1. My Left Foot -- Christy Brown Was Neglected by His Prostitute Wife

Miramax Films

My Left Foot is perhaps best remembered as that movie where Daniel Day-Lewis forced extras to carry him around the set in a wheelchair, beginning his legend as the most dedicated method actor ever, but the plot of the movie itself is pretty impressive too. It follows the true story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy who could control only his left foot, and how he used that foot to become a well-known artist and writer.

Miramax Films
"That's not all I can use it for ..."

After being rejected romantically by several women, at the end of the film Brown finally scores with Mary Carr, his nurse, and we last see them frolicking on top of a hill, in love. The credits warm our hearts even more when we are informed the two got married soon after ...

The Unpleasant Epilogue:

... and that's when things went to shit. Not even Day-Lewis is dedicated enough to his job to portray Brown's married life to a harpy from hell.

Miramax Films
"Even I have my limits."

As soon as they got married, Carr took her husband as far away from his family as possible and went back to her true calling: other people's penises and vaginas. It's a mystery how a prostitute secured a job nursing one of the country's most gifted minds, but once Brown was in her clutches, the charade was over and she started leaving him home alone most nights while she went off to meet her clients (being bisexual, she probably had twice the workload as her colleagues). Meanwhile, Brown survived on nothing more than the bottles of whiskey she generously left him.

Miramax Films
He should have seen the warning signs when this was all that she brought for a picnic.

Other sources claim Carr was actually a former prostitute who simply had lots and lots of affairs. Whether she was getting naked for money or for the heck of it, Carr apparently spent her time in an alcoholic daze, tormenting and possibly abusing her husband. As a result, Brown became morose, and so did his work, something which critics and audiences did not appreciate. His final books were critical and commercial failures.

The final insult came when he choked to death on a piece of meat during dinner, at age 49. And that's why you should never again complain about Hollywood not telling you the complete story.


If you were planning on evading politics by burying yourself in holiday flicks, guess what? You can't! In our latest podcast, Jack O'Brien and David Wong complain like a bunch of old ladies about how every Christmas movie is actually just a load of political garbage. You can download it here and subscribe to it on iTunes here.


Related Reading: Some stories are too badass for any movie. Read about the man who fought evil with a Chili coated fist and you'll agree. At their worst, twins can create horror far more unsettling than a billion Wes Cravens. These Swedish twins who went simultaneously mad should convince you of that. If you're more interested in some based-on-a-true story movies that were bullshit, click here.

Watch this video for the awful truth about movies based on a true story.

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