5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On Them

We don't mind when "based on a true story" movies skip a few details here and there in order to make more coherent tales. But it's a different story when they rewrite history and completely screw up an innocent person's entire life, all in the pursuit of adding a few paltry minutes of compelling drama for the popcorn-hounds. Sadly, it happens pretty often. For instance ...

Advertisement

5
American Hustle -- The Real Irving Rosenfeld's Wife Was A Kind Woman Driven To Suicide

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemColumbia Pictures

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

What You Saw In The Movie:

American Hustle tells the story of lovable con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who finds himself working for the feds to expose political corruption while also handling his wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), a drunken, cheating, utterly insane bitch from hell -- or in Irving's words, "the Picasso of passive-aggressive karate."

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemColumbia Pictures
"Oh, woe is me!"

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But Actually:

Names were changed to protect one innocent and a bunch of scumbags, but American Hustle was inspired by the real Operation ABSCAM, in which the FBI used con artist Melvin Weinberg to investigate political figures. Now, he did have a wife in real life, Marie, but she was in truth a dedicated mother and a good woman who felt humiliated by Mel's infidelities and wanted to divorce him. She was essentially the exact opposite of what we saw on screen.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

So where did Rosalyn come from? From Mel Weinberg's filthy, lying mouth. After Operation ABSCAM, Weinberg wanted to sell the movie rights to his story. The only problem? He'd surreptitiously pocketed a shitload of cash during ABSCAM, and he didn't want his wife ruining his odds at a film deal (and his prospects for a life outside of prison), so he started threatening her. Marie filed for divorce and went public about Mel's shady dealings, which was the right thing to do. And since this isn't a feel-good Hollywood story, she of course got screwed for it. Mel spread vicious rumors about Marie all around town, hounding her until she eventually hung herself in 1982. In even more depressing news, Marie's death didn't stop Mel from talking shit about her, as he recently referred to her in an interview as a "wacky broad."

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemColumbia Pictures
Honestly, though, what did you expect from a guy with that haircut and facial hair?

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

We have very different definitions of "wacky," Mel. Our is more "riding a unicycle to work" and less "terribly put-upon woman driven to suicide by a bunch of cockroaches hiding inside a human suit."

4
Dallas Buyers Club -- The FDA Was Trying To Save Lives

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemFocus Features

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

What You Saw In The Movie:

In Dallas Buyers Club, cowboy Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is diagnosed with AIDS and given only a month to live. So he bribes his way into a clinical trial for AZT, the first HIV/AIDS drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration ... despite the FDA knowing full well that it's toxic to the human body. After AZT basically turns his blood into acid, Woodroof starts smuggling safer but non-FDA-approved AIDS medications, like Peptide T, DDC, and Compound Q, and selling them through the titular Dallas Buyers Club. Of course, once the FDA and the head of the AZT trial (Denis O'Hare) catch wind of it, they try to shut down Woodroof's operation, because those stuffy bureaucrats value rules more than human lives.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But Actually:

AZT is perfectly safe and does in fact fight HIV ... if you get the dosage right. The problem was that, back then, we still didn't know what the right dosage was, which was why they were doing clinical trials in the first place. As for the drugs Woodroof was getting his hands on, they simply didn't work. We know now that Peptide T is absolutely useless in fighting HIV, while DDC can have even worse side effects than AZT, like irreversible nerve damage in your hands and feet.

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemFocus Features
All wrong, all wrong, all wrong.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

As for Compound Q? It straight up killed two people taking it. After that, the FDA worked with various buyers clubs around the country in order to stop them from using it. Only the Dallas club didn't listen. In the movie, FDA agents are depicted as heartless bureaucrats more interested in enforcing the law than in healing people. In reality, though, they were looking out for HIV/AIDS sufferers because the last time they approved a drug without testing it properly, it killed thousands of babies. "We'd like not to kill thousands of babies again" seems like a pretty solid motivation.

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemFocus Features
"We'd also like to avoid any more of our fuck-ups becoming Billy Joel lyrics, Mr. Woodroof."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

3
U-571 Completely Robbed British Sailors Of Their Roles In History

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemUniversal Pictures

What You Saw In The Movie:

U-571 tells the story of a daring U.S. Navy crew attempting to hijack a damaged German U-Boat and steal their Enigma Machine. Through pure American bravado, the sailors manage to secure the machine and kill a few dozen Nazis for good measure, before retiring to shoot bullets into steaks and ride bald eagles straight into an exploding fireworks factory.

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemUniversal Pictures
"The words "no teabagging" don't specifically appear in the Geneva Conventions, so if the opportunity arises ..."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But Actually:

The movie was based on a real story: That of the German sub U-110, which was indeed captured ... by British sailors. Shockingly, movie-jacking an important British military victory didn't sit well with the UK. A parliamentarian from Horsforth, a town that raised money for the ship that helped take down U-110, voiced his protests to President Clinton in a personal letter. And, oh yeah, the fucking Prime Minister also publicly condemned the film. Imagine some European director screwing up a thriller so badly that the president of the United States had to take time out of his busy day to call it garbage. Even Uwe Boll hasn't screwed up a movie that badly (yet).

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemUniversal Pictures
You know, maybe you should just avoid McConaughey historical films altogether.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

2
Foxcatcher -- Mark Schultz Never Had A Gay Relationship With His Brother's Murderer

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemSony

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

What You Saw In The Movie:

Foxcatcher tells the story of two Olympic wrestlers, Mark (Channing Tatum) and David Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), who are invited to train with John du Pont (Steve Carell). Du Pont ends up killing David, partially because he was kind of a nutjob, and partially because he blamed him for driving Mark away. See, it's heavily implied, if not explicitly shown by the movie, that du Pont was a predator who pushed Mark into a sexual relationship.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But Actually:

The real Mark Schultz served as an advisor on set and asked to have the gay molestation implications cut, because he and du Pont never had that kind of relationship, and he found the inaccuracies insulting. But the director decided to keep them in, explaining that they were meant "to give the audience the feeling that du Pont was encroaching on [Mark's] privacy and personal space."

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemSony Pictures Classics
"Cut! Great job, but let's try a take without the pants."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

We guess the butthole is a pretty personal space, but that still sounds like some bullshit excuse to us. The reviewers agreed, bashing the movie for having a villain who embodied all the traits of a homosexual predator from a fearmongering 1950s PSA. Speaking of bashing: When the movie came out, Schultz himself took to Twitter and Facebook to denounce it. He has since apologized for the outburst, but maintains that the film is grossly inaccurate. Still, though, what is he getting so worked up for? It's only his name, identity, life story, and legacy being shit on.

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemNBCUniversal Television Distribution
Plus, he could never watch that one Office episode the same way again.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

1
The Imitation Game -- Commander Denniston Was A Brilliant Cryptographer And Alan Turing's Ally

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemThe Weinstein Company

What You Saw In The Movie:

In The Imitation Game, Commander Alastair Denniston (Charles Dance) reluctantly oversees a project to decipher Germany's Enigma Machine. See, back during World War II, the idea of fighting the enemy with math seemed a bit silly to hardass military men like Denniston. That's why the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) has to all but force his way onto the Enigma team. Denniston has so little faith that he orders Turing's code-breaking machine destroyed, and Turing fired, in the hopes of using Great Britain's resources for something more realistic, like asshole-seeking missiles.

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemThe Weinstein Company
"Why are they all aiming at me?"

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

But Actually:

The real Commander Denniston was a cryptologist himself. During World War I, he worked for Naval Intelligence, helping to break the Zimmermann Telegram (a secret communication between Germany and Mexico), which contributed to the U.S. joining the war effort. For this, Denniston was made head of the Government Code and Cypher School.

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemDennis K. Johnson/Lonely Planet/Getty Images
Which looks about as X-Mansiony as you'd expect.

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

He not only understood the importance of code-breaking, he sought out Turing for the Enigma team. Denniston had so much faith in Turing that he even allowed him to take confidential documents home. If the movie was realistic, the first meeting between Denniston and Turing wouldn't have been two adversaries facing off, but a circle-jerk of nerd appreciation.

5 Real People Screwed By 'True-Story' Movies Based On ThemBill Bailey
"Oh, Alan, that patent is Turing me on."

Continue Reading Below

Advertisement

All right, maybe we kind of understand why they changed that one, but they still didn't have to make the guy look like a total idiot.

Raoni is the villain of his own biopic: The Adventures of the Brazilian Sub-Zero.

Be sure to check out what other dramatic licenses Hollywood has taken in 24 Movies Based On A True Story (That Are Full Of Shit) or 7 Movies Based On A True Story (Are Shockingly Full Of Crap).

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out The Awful Truth About Movies 'Based On A True Story', and watch other videos you won't see on the site!

Also, follow us on Facebook. Or don't; we don't care. But please do! We really care!


Want to know how to go mano-a-mano with a president? Daniel O'Brien can help, with How to Fight Presidents: Defending Yourself Against the Badasses Who Ran This Country!

To turn on reply notifications, click here

548 Comments

Load Comments

More Articles

5 Infuriating Luxuries Only Available To The Ultra-Rich

What does the person who has everything buy for themselves?

142

5 Huge News Stories The Media Straight-Up Forgot About

Sometimes the follow-up is worse than original headline-grabbing story.

146

The 6 Most Epically Lazy Ripoffs Of Famous Movies And Shows

Some people in entertainment don't even bother trying to come up with fresh ideas.

85

The Classic Sitcom That Looks Completely Insane In 2019

Let us pitch you a sitcom ...

302

6 Video Game Cons That Shouldn't Have Fooled Anyone

Maybe take video game marketing with a grain of salt?

54