New Hampshire native Robert Rodat moved to Los Angeles thinking he might produce films but began writing scripts during the ten years spent working on his MFA at USC's film school. He received his fir...
This week’s Big Miracle, about a duo’s (John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore) struggles to save a family of whales, is “inspired by the incredible true story that united the world.” While it’s not often that movies bear such a heartstring-tugging tagline, it is quite often that they're inspired by or loosely based on real events. Below we list our favorite such movies, not to be confused, however, with biopics, docudramas or alteration-less “true story” fare. So no Schindler’s List, etc. Also no Titanic – but not because it doesn't qualify.
“True story” notes: Based on the book of the same name – self-adapted by William Peter Blatty – which itself is based on a real-life exorcism that was purported to have included supernatural events.
It is often forgotten that the scariest movie of all time – according to my recurring nightmares – is ultimately “inspired by true events.” Or perhaps we just don’t want to believe that the devil can inhabit cute little kids and turn their voices into gravel. And enable them spin their heads around. And spider-crawl down the stairs.
Saving Private Ryan
“True story” notes: The invasion of Normandy and horrors of war are, of course, the stuff of nonfiction, but the last-surviving-brother plot is largely the result of screenwriter Robert Rodat’s imagination (he was inspired after a story of eight siblings who died in the Civil War).
The opening sequence is forever burned in our brains – if there’s a moviegoer version of PTSD, it is induced here – but Spielberg masterfully, and characteristically, mixes humanity and adventure with unforgettable visuals.
“True story” notes: Fictional but based loosely on writer/director Cameron Crowe’s time as a young writer for Rolling Stone.
Crowe’s best movie (sorry, Jerry Maguire fans and Say Anything diehards) captures what the writer/director always seems to be reaching for: the rock ‘n’ roll of life.
“True story” notes: Adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s novel Wiseguy, based on real-life mobster-turned-informant Henry Hill; other characters’ names were changed but mostly based on actual people.
Pileggi and Martin Scorsese might’ve changed names and condensed a lot of the Henry Hill saga, but it’s hard to imagine Goodfellas feeling any more authentic, even if had it been an all-inclusive 10-hour movie. We’ll give The Godfather the top spot and maybe Part II the No. 2 spot, but not many would disagree with Goodfellas being ranked the third-best Mob movie ever.
“True story” notes: Loosely based on/inspired by the life and times of porn star John Holmes.
Our proper introduction to – and thus fascination with – Paul Thomas Anderson commenced with this pseudo-biopic about the Golden Age of porn and the, um, rise of its, ahem, biggest star. Great performances were in abundant supply, but it was Anderson’s unwillingness to do anything conventional and/or expected that kept our interest, er, aroused. (Sorry.)
One of the best-ever sports movies is also quite possibly one of the best “true story” movies – even though it isn’t, per se: The only keywords that the movie and real-life story have in common are “Indiana,” “basketball” and “high school.”
Terrence Malick’s mesmerizing feature-film debut – loosely based on a killing spree perpetrated by a teenaged couple, and about a similar couple’s (Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek) murderous road trip … and so much more – earned him the right to make us wait sometimes a decade between each of his films. But if he wants to speed up the pace, as is reportedly the case nowadays, that’s OK too.
The French Connection
With The Exorcist (see above) two years after this crime-thriller masterpiece – in which several of the characters have real-life counterparts – director William Friedkin is the sole two-time “true story” director on our list, and he boasts one of the best back-to-back movie runs of all time. How he wound up directing Blue Chips, we’ll never know.
The Hitchcock classic is based on a book loosely inspired by infamous murderer/grave robber/body snatcher Ed Gein. So, uh, thanks for being such an unfathomable psychopath, Mr. Gein … ?
Tim Burton could’ve made an honest, earnest biopic about “one of the worst directors of all time,” but it wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting or fitting – and it wouldn’t have made our list, which was no doubt on Burton’s mind at the time – as the zany homage he paid with Ed Wood.
Just days after Patty Jenkins lost the Thor 2 directing gig over those ever-pesky "creative differences," Marvel is said to be narrowing its list of possible replacements. THR reports that Alan Taylor and Daniel Minahan, two prolific TV directors with minimal feature-film experience, are the leading candidates to helm the sequel to the 2011 summer blockbuster, which starred Chris Hemsworth as the hammer-wielding Norse hero and Natalie Portman as his plucky love interest. THR adds that the studio is mulling different writers for the job of re-tooling Don Payne's Thor 2 screenplay draft, including John Collee (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), Robert Rodat (TNT's Falling Skies) and former Tarantino collaborator Roger Avary.
Thor 2 may not have a director or a screenwriter, but it does have a release date: November 15, 2013.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Click for more images of Chris Hemsworth:
Spider-Man director Sam Raimi told MTV that the movie Warcraft (based on the popular video game World of Warcraft) will be penned by Saving Private Ryan scribe, Robert Rodat. Raimi said they will adapt the game, rather than use a previously conceived story.
"We want to be really faithful to the game," Raimi said. "We would have our writer, Robert Rodat, really craft an original story within that world that feels like a 'World of WarCraft' adventure.
Rodat's other screenplay credits include The Patriot
The Sam Raimi directed Warcraft is due out in 2011
Top Story: Police Call Off Search for "COPS" Producer
A search for the body of reality TV producer-director Paul Stojanovich has been called off, Variety reports. Stojanovich, who created the hit Fox show COPS, is presumed dead after he slipped and fell from a cliff in Oregon and into the Pacific Ocean on Saturday. He was posing for a picture for his fiancée, Kim Srowel, when he fell. After developing and serving as a producer of COPS and producing the ABC series American Detective, Stojanovich executive produced a wave of reality shows modeled on the COPS genre, including World's Wildest Police Videos, World's Scariest Police Chases and Ultimate Police Challenge. Stojanovich, 47, moved to Oregon about 10 years ago. He is survived by his fiancée and two sons from a previous marriage, Paulie, 20, and Chet, 18.
Gandolfini and HBO Back on Track
After dropping his lawsuit against HBO, James Gandolfini agreed Tuesday to fulfill the terms of his original contract, meaning that a fifth season of the mob drama The Sopranos will be filmed as scheduled, The New York Times reported Wednesday. HBO, which had filed a counterclaim against Gandolfini, said it would drop its lawsuit once both conditions were met. According to the Times, the agreement between HBO and Gandolfini, who won Emmy Awards in 2000 and 2001 for his role as Tony Soprano, came with no change in the salary offer.
Construction Company Wants Minnelli To Pay Up
A New York construction company is asking the Manhattan Supreme Court to order the sale of an Upper East Side apartment owned by Liza Minnelli and her husband David Gest so it can recover $138,000 the couple allegedly owes them for renovations, Reuters reports. The suit alleges that Minnelli and Gest agreed to pay the construction company $250,000 for major renovations when they signed the January 2002 contract, but were only paid $112,148, leaving a balance of nearly $138,000. On top of the balance owed, the company is seeking interest and $50,000 in legal expenses.
Paul Reubens Appeals Porn Charge
Paul Reubens is appealing a judge's refusal to throw out a misdemeanor child pornography possession charge, The Associated Press reports. Attorneys for Reubens argued Monday that a February ruling by Superior Court Judge Carol H. Rehm was flawed because a 1989 statute does not apply to material produced before the law was enacted. Reuben's attorney's also argued that the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor crime expired before the city filed the charge last November. The charge resulted from a search of Reubens' home in November 2001, when police seized the actor's collection of vintage erotica.
Dixie Chicks' "Travelin' Soldier" Takes a Hit
The Dixie Chick's No. 1 hit "Travelin' Soldier" dropped 15 percent on the country singles charts to No. 3 as more radio stations are dropping the band from their playlists, USA Today reports. The depth of anger displayed by the Chicks' country fans is one the most dramatic to date in the backlash against artists and celebrities who comment on the nation's divisive policies toward Iraq. The trio is set to begin a U.S. tour May 1 in Greenville, S.C.--expected to be one of the marquee events in country touring for the year--but it is unclear now how the tour will play out.
Presley Belts Out Tunes for Record Execs
Lisa Marie Presley quietly made her first singing appearance at an industry trade show Tuesday in Orlando, Florida to promote her soon-to-be-released first album. Presley performed three songs before 1,000 enthusiastic record label executives and music sellers at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers' annual convention. According to the AP, convention attendees surmised that Presley's Capitol label is hiding her quiet voice behind the music as she starts her career. Music Universe's Alan Josef Kaplan told the AP, "She's a little shy, but she's new. Give her six months, and she's going to get much more comfortable."
Sharon Osbourne Suffers Heat Exhaustion
Sharon Osbourne was admitted to an undisclosed Las Vegas hospital after she was overcome by heat exhaustion Friday during her husband Ozzy's concert at the Hard Rock Hotel, People.com reports. According to spokeswoman Lisa Vega, Osbourne complained of feeling faint, and because of her medical condition, was taken to the hospital. "It was nothing serious. We were there for about 20 minutes," Vega confirmed. Ozzy had finished playing by the time the ambulance arrived, and accompanied his wife to the hospital. Osbourne was diagnosed with colon cancer last year and has since undergone chemotherapy treatment.
Role Call: Queen Latifah's "Just Wright," Paramount Nabs Clancy's "Red Rabbit"
Disney has purchased screenwriter Michael Elliot's pitch Just Wright as a starring and producing vehicle for Queen Latifah. The pic is a modern-day Cinderella tale set in the world of pro basketball ... Paramount Pictures has acquired the rights to Tom Clancy's latest thriller, Red Rabbit. Scribe Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan) will adapt the book for just under $2 million.
Spike Lee hates "The Patriot." The director of "Summer of Sam," "Malcolm X" and other films blasted the Mel Gibson Revolutionary War-epic-cum-action-movie in today's Hollywood Reporter, calling it "a complete whitewashing of history, revisionist history" because none of the characters, conveniently, are depicted as slaveholders.
Lee also noted the absence of American Indians in the movie.
"When talking about the history of this great country, one can never forget, leave out or whatever, that America was built upon the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African people. To say otherwise is criminal," Lee wrote in the trade's weekly guest column.
Lee concluded his missive like this: "I say to producer Dean Devlin, director Roland Emmerich and [screenwriter Robert] Rodat that maybe SIZE DOES MATTER," alluding to the bombastic ad campaign for Emmerich's last film, "Godzilla." "... But shouldn't TRUTH MATTER MORE?"
This isn't the first time Lee has taken a major film to task for alleged racism. In 1998 he lambasted writer-director Quentin Tarantino for using the word "nigger" 38 times in the film "Jackie Brown." That time, his barbs drew reprisals from Tarantino and actor Samuel L Jackson, who uttered most of those "n-words" in the movie.
The folks at Columbia Pictures responded with a resounding "no comment."
With Vince McKewin, co-wrote the family drama "Fly Away Home"
First feature credit as co-writer, "Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill"; co-wrote spec script with USC chum Steven L Bloom
Penned the original Starz! TV-movie "The Ripper", about Jack the Ripper
Initial solo feature screenwriting credit, "Saving Private Ryan"
Raised in New Hampshire
Scripted the Revolutionary War drama "The Patriot"
Debut as screenwriter, the HBO baseball comedy "The Comrades of Summer"
New Hampshire native Robert Rodat moved to Los Angeles thinking he might produce films but began writing scripts during the ten years spent working on his MFA at USC's film school. He received his first screenwriting credit for "Comrades of Summer", a 1992 HBO movie about an American baseball manager (Joe Mantegna) hired to train a Russian team for Olympic competition. Exploring one of the more recent hypotheses about the identity of the notorious British criminal Jack the Ripper, he penned "The Ripper" (Starz!, 1997), which posited the notion that the murderer was a member of the English royal family. After years of writing spec scripts, Rodat received his first feature credit on a project he co-wrote USC pal Steven L Bloom. "Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill" (1995). This well-crafted but unusual fable about a boy who encounters the mythical heroes Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, John Henry and others won critical praise but failed to find an audience. He fared somewhat better with the delightful family picture "Fly Away Home" (1996, co-written with Vince McKewn), the story of a father (Jeff Daniels) and daughter (Anna Paquin) who teach their adopted geese how to migrate. It was, however, his script for Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) that elevated Rodat to the circle of A-list screenwriters by highlighting the enormity of the sacrifice and bravery of World War II combatants in a realistic film which at the same time made a powerful anti-war statement.<p>He continued to explore themes of the effect of war on individuals in his next produced screenplay, "The Patriot" (2000). Originally a more realistic biopic of the 18th-century hero Francis Marion (nicknamed 'The Swamp Fox'), the screenwriter eventually opted for the fictional route, using Marion's life as the inspiration for the character of Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson), a former soldier who fought in the French and Indian War, now a widower raising his children. As the American rebellion grows and his family is drawn into the conflict, Martin must decide whether to abandon his pacifist stance or not. "The Patriot", helmed by Roland Emmerich, proved to be that rare film which was set during the Revolutionary War period which managed to infuse a sense of drama on history, partly via Rodat's strong script.
School of Cinema and Television, University of Southern California
Harvard Business School, Harvard University
"We all agreed that their [WWII veterans] generation was very different than what the baby boomers might have thought during the 60s. Especially the people seen in war films. The guys who fought the war were not like the guys you saw in the John Wayne war films. Those movies were made during the war as sort of morale-builders. Realism was not allowed for those films. But reading about these guys, you realize this was a very knowing and almost cynical generation that simultaneously had a strong sense of duty. And that was a fascinating juxtaposition for me."
"Think about it. These guys grew up in the Depression. They had seen the Bonus Army of World War I veterans fired on in the streets of Washington DC. It was shortly after the Socialist Party had pulled over 12% in the presidential election. There was a pacifist movement in the early part of World War II that dwarfed anything we saw during the bulk of the Vietnam War. And yet, at D-Day, and elsewhere in the war ... they did what needed to be done at enormous personal jeopardy. And so that admirable combination of knowingness and duty, of cynicism and self-sacrifice, was really worth looking at." --Robert Rodat quoted in Daily News, August 2, 1998.