Hollywood loves to base movies on memoirs, inspiring stories of sports achievements or meaty real-life crimes.
But not everything that hits the screen is the 100% unvarnished truth. Some things are shifted for creative reasons (like collapsing timelines so the story fits into the movie’s running time) and some… are just made up.
We decided to skewer seven true-life tales that are, in places, anything but…
The Film: American Gangster (2007)
The Hollywood Version: “The true juggernaut success story of a cult figure from the streets,” starring Denzel Washington as crime kingpin Frank Lucas, a Harlem based heroin entrepreneur.
Russell Crowe co-stars as detective Richie Roberts, part of the police team who brought Lucas down and “flipped” him, making him an informant who helped take down other dealers and high-level criminals.
Just The Facts: Aside from the fact that the film had to leave out an awful lot of the story to fit the film’s length, it also invented a lot of stuff to make the corrupt cops in the story look worse and the good guys better.
Take the scene where the cops raid Lucas’ home. The actor-agents are seen shooting the family dog, assaulting the drug dealer’s wife and stealing a pile of money from the house.
Never mind that at Lucas’ trial all of the $585,000.00 taken from his home during the raid was introduced into evidence. If it had been stolen by the agents how could it have wound up in court?
The 1975 raid in real life was led by agent Gregory Korniloff. Through his lawyer he says that the movie’s raid scene is completely false in almost every way.
“It was conducted pursuant to a federal search warrant. There was no wife assaulted, no dog shot, no money stolen.”