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Part II - Films About Famous PeopleAlmost everybody who's anybody has had at least one movie made about him or her. These are some of the best ones.
The Desert Fox (1951)
James Mason is German Field Marshall Irwin Rommel, the brilliant tactician who tried to overthrow Hitler. This is one of Mason's two movie portrayals of Rommel, the other being in The Desert Rats (1953), with Richard Burton.
The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
Based on the powerful true story of Jews hiding from the Germans in Amsterdam during World War II.
Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940)
Edward G. Robinson, who should have received an Oscar nomination for this role (he never received one during his career), is outstanding in this biography of Dr. Paul Ehrlich, the German physician who developed the first synthetic antimicrobial drug, a cure for syphilis. Excellent supporting cast, directed by William Dieterle, who was nominated for a directing Oscar two years earlier for The Life of Emile Zola.
Jim Thorpe - All American (1951)
Burt Lancaster gives his all in the role of the Native American athlete who was victimized by racism after a record-setting Olympic performance.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Peter O'Toole turns in a brilliant performance in the role of real-life hero T. E. Lawrence, the British soldier who tried to unite the Arab tribes during WWI.
Lust For Life (1956)
Kirk Douglas stars in this film based on the life of painter Vincent Van Gogh, with Oscar-winner Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin.
A Man For All Seasons (1966)
Students can learn about Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII, and at the same time enjoy the screen version of a great play, starring a wonderful cast headed by Oscar-winner Paul Scofield.
George C. Scott delivers an Oscar-winning performance in this Best Picture winner about General George S. Patton.
Raging Bull (1980)
Martin Scorsese's black and white masterpiece about real-life boxer Jake LaMotta featured a De Niro performance that many feel was his best.
Sergeant York (1941)
Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of this unlikely WWI hero, Alvin York.
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)
Don Ameche plays the inventor of the telephone. Though embellished, the movie still influenced our understanding of the man. (Out of print.)
The Story of Louis Pasteur(1935)
Paul Muni won a Best Actor Oscar for his wonderful portrayal of the man responsible for the discovery of bacteria as a cause of disease, who struggled heroically against the ignorance of his contemporaries. The film also won two writing awards and was nominated for Best Picture. It is an old-fashioned, idealistic biography, directed with style by William Dieterle.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
This smashing biography of George M. Cohan proved that Jimmy Cagney could have been a big star even if he'd done nothing but musical comedies.
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
John Ford's film about Abraham Lincoln's early life stars Henry Fonda in one of his most endearing portrayals. The movie is the source of many historical myths about Lincoln.
Part II: Films About Famous People
Part III: Films About History
Part IV: The Important Films
Other classic movie checklists that you'll enjoy.