Ten True Stories That Would Make Amazing Movies

by Bill Gibron

14 February 2014

The Story of the Ramones

They were four outcasts from Queens. They came together over a love of classic rock ‘n’ roll and a feeling of alienation that seemed to infest the entirety of the early ‘70s. Yet, somehow, Johnny (Cummings) Ramone, Joey (Jeffrey Hyman) Ramone, Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin) Ramone, and Tommy (Erdelyi) Ramone managed to transcend their situations to become the preeminent punk band of all time. Horribly disregarded during their career, their backstage bickering and in-fighting was as legendary as the music they made. My idea for the biopic is a bit out there, but hear me out. We take the Ramones, their divergent real life personalities (Johnny: ultraconservative Neo-Con, Dee Dee: deranged drug addict, Joey: Phil Specter worshiping romantic, etc.) and set their story within a manufactured Monkees like sitcom setting. Then tell the truth. The result would be a revelation.

John Waters and the Founding of Dreamland Studios

In his amazing memoir, Shock Value, John Waters paints a portrait of outsider art circa the ‘50s and ‘60s that is part fringe dwelling, part squatting, and a whole lot of genuine juvenile delinquency (especially shoplifting). How the man behind such memorable films as Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble met his many creative soul mates—Mink Stole, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Edith Massey, and Harris Glenn Milstead, otherwise known as diva drag queen Divine—would make for an amazing movie. Waters paints vivid pictures of drug use, amateur onset antics, and a Baltimore ill-prepared for such haughty ‘Hillbilly Ripoffs’. The eventual birth of Dreamland Studios would provide the feel good icing on this decidedly camp and kitschy true-life cake.

Professional Football in the ‘60s and ‘70s

While the rules are more or less the same, the sport we see in 2014 is a billion light years away from the struggling spectacle of some 50 years ago. Coaches were paid nominally while even the most celebrated players had to find a second job “off season” in order to make ends meet. There were no billion dollar TV contracts or video game/jersey revenues. Instead, the football names of that era laid the foundation for all the hoopla and money-fueled mayhem we see today, and many aren’t even recognized for their contribution. This would be a sprawling epic, something touching on the growth of the sport as well as the individuals who made the biggest impact toward where it is today. America’s new pastime deserves such a historical overview.

The book Blood and Money

It’s one of the most intriguing true crime books ever written. Thomas Thompson’s bestselling tome was turned into a tepid TV movie way back in 1981, but the casting (Farrah Fawcett, Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross) left a lot to be desired. Besides, that adaptation failed to focus on the things that made the story so unique: the opera loving doctor who marries into Houston society, the cold fish wife who becomes sicker and sicker over time, the mistress waiting in the wings, the family trying to see that good old fashioned Texas justice is done. Imagine someone like Todd Haynes tackling this material, with its oversized manors, ornate music rooms, accusations of feces in the wife’s éclairs, court room melodramas, and so very much more and say it wouldn’t be sensational. 

David F. Friedman’s Life in Exploitation

As a boy, he spent time with traveling carnivals in the South. In the Army, he met future king of the roadshow Kroger Babb. While working as a regional marketing man for Paramount, he started hearing stories about individuals distributing their own unique films around the country—and earning big bucks in the process. Jumping on the nudie cutie bandwagon, David F. Friedman quickly became a exploitation pioneer. Teaming up with Herschell Gordon Lewis, he brought the splatter film into the horror movie mainstream and reimagined the genre with the something called “the roughie”. While he eventually turned to soft and then hardcore porn, he ended up going back to the carnival where he got his start.

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