Lights! Camera! Learning! - History

Updated August 9, 2021 | Beth Rowen

History lesson: Real history on film

George C. Scott as Patton

George C. Scott as Old Blood and Guts


This unforgettable biopic explores the hot-headed military genius General George Patton, played by George C. Scott, and follows the leader from battle to battle during World War II. Not only a biography of "Old Blood and Guts," but also a study in military history. The film won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, though Scott refused the honor, Best Director (Franklin Schaffner), Best Story and Screenplay (Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North), Best Art Direction (Urie McCleary and Gil Parrondo), Best Set Decoration (Antonio Mateos and Pierre-Louis Thevenet), Best Sound (Douglas Williams and Don Bassman) and Best Editing (Hugh S. Fowler).

Rated PG. Released: 1970.

Malcolm X

Spike Lee's epic biography of Malcolm X follows the slain leader from his days as a Boston hustler to his time in prison, where he embraces Islam and the preachings of Elijah Muhammed; to his ascent to leadership of the Nation of Islam to his pilgrimage to Mecca; and, finally, to his death by assassination. A thoughtful, intelligent and surprisingly uncontroversial profile of a controversial figure. Denzel Washington plays X and Angela Bassett portrays his wife, Betty Shabazz. Based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley.

Rated R. Released: 1992.


Is there anyone out there who still believes the Warren Commission's conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone? It's doubtful. And JFK makes the commission's conclusion all the more dubious. Despite criticism that he has attempted to rewrite history, Oliver Stone, who has never been known for his subtlety, has crafted a compelling docudrama that's jam-packed with fact, and yes, some fiction. JFK was released nearly 30 years after the assassination of Kennedy, and its major revelation is that time is the greatest fertilizer for the human imagination. Stone's film did not set the record straight; it simply served to further cloud the fuzzy images of that fateful day in Dallas.

Rated R. Released: 1991.



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