History Movie Question

1) Choose one film or series from the attached list to watch, then follow the guidelines below for your paper. DO NOT JUST SUMMARIZE THE FILM!!! I have seen all of them.

2) For the content of your paper:

  • Give a BRIEF overview of the film.
  • Provide some historical context/background for the people and events portrayed in the film. Connect them to the larger historical themes of the era.
  • Based on your course material (lecture, textbook, course reader), discuss the historical accuracy of the film. Your answer must be more than, “this film is historically accurate.” You may also use outside sources if you wish (see below).
  • OPTIONAL: Considering when this film/series was made, do you think there was a contemporary message? If so, how does that message relate to the actual historical events?



The Conspirator (2010): the trial of Mary Surratt, one of the accused conspirators in the Lincoln assassination

Hell on Wheels (2011-): AMC series about the construction of the Union Pacific portion of the Transcontinental Railroad (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

Gangs of New York (2002): urban street gangs of New York during the 1860s

Molly Maguires (1970): Irish labor group following the Panic of 1873

Deadwood (2004-2006): Life in the illegal mining settlement of Deadwood in the Black Hills of South Dakota (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

Wyatt Earp (1994): life of western lawman Wyatt Erp, from cowtowns to mining towns

The Searchers (1956): fictional story of a Civil War veteran that returns to Texas to find his niece captured by Comanches and embarks on a long journey to get her back

Lonesome Dove (1989): Cattle drive from Texas to Montana

Dances With Wolves (1990): U.S. soldiers and Native Americans in the West after the Civil War

Geronimo: An American Legend (1993): story of Geronimo and the Chiricahua Apache as they resist the US reservation system

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007): HBO movie, Sioux Wars and Little Big Horn, reservation life, the Ghost Dance, and Wounded Knee

Rough Riders (1997) (TV): story of Theodore Roosevelt’s volunteer regiment during the Spanish-American War

Iron-Jawed Angels (2004): fight for women’s suffrage in the early 1900s

Godfather II (1974): the mafia during the 1920s and 1950s, based on the novel by Mario Puzo

Matewan (1987): 1920 West Virginia mining strike that turned violent

Rosewood (1997): violent lynch mob destroys a black community in the Deep South during the 1920s

Lawless (2012): dramatized version of the Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy, prohibition-era Virginia

J. Edgar (2011): the life of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover

Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014): HBO series based on the illegal alcohol business and organized crime in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the era of National Prohibition (1920-1933) (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

The Untouchables (1987): federal government’s effort to bring down Al Capone

Modern Times (1936): Factory worker cracks under the strain of his job and goes nuts in the streets during the Great Depression

Grapes of Wrath (1940): Oklahoma farmers forced to move to California during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, based on the novel by John Steinbeck

The Great Debaters (2007): A newly formed debate team from Wiley College, a small black college in Marshall, Texas, went on to challenge the Harvard debate team for the 1935 national championship

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970): attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II

Pearl Harbor (2001): attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II

Band of Brothers (2001): HBO miniseries based on Easy Company of the US Army 101st Airborne division in Europe during World War II (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

The Pacific (2010): HBO miniseries based on American Marines in the Pacific during World War II (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

Patton (1970): General George Patton during World War II

Saving Private Ryan (1998): World War II invasion of Normandy (D-Day) and beyond

Fury (2014): American tank crew in Europe during the final months of World War II

Tuskegee Airmen (1995) (HBO TV): African-American pilots in World War II

Red Tails (2012): African-American pilots in World War II

Zoot Suit (1981): A fictionalized version of the Sleepy Lagoon case and the Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots during World War II

Hiroshima (1995): the decision to use the atomic bomb during World War II

Emperor (2012): Post-World War II Japan, General Douglas MacArthur orders an investigation to determine if the Emperor of Japan should be tried as a war criminal.

MacArthur (1977): Douglas MacArther during World War II and the Korean War

The Good Shepherd (2006): the early history of the Central Intelligence Agency

Good Night, Good Luck (2005): broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow vs. Senator Joseph McCarthy

Thirteen Days (2000): JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis

Dr. Strange Love or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964): Cold War paranoia erupts into possible nuclear war

Mad Men (2007-2015): AMC series based around an ad agency during the 1960s (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

Malcolm X (1992): life of Malcolm X

Selma (2014): Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1965 march for voting rights in Selma Alabama

Ali (2001): life of boxing legend Mohammad Ali

George Wallace (1997) (TV): Alabama governor George Wallace during the Civil Rights movement

Cesar Chavez (2014): Biographical story of labor leader and civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez

Walkout (2006): East Los Angeles student civil rights protests

Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (2013): The politics and Supreme Court case surrounding Muhammad Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam War based on his conscientious objection

We Were Soldiers (2002): Battle of Ia Drang during Vietnam War

Platoon (1986): American soldiers during the Vietnam War, based on the real life experiences of director Oliver Stone

All the Presidents Men (1976): journalists who broke the Watergate scandal

Narcos (2015-): Netflix Original Series about Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, cocaine, and the US “War on Drugs” (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

The Americans (2013-): FX series about deep-cover Soviet Agents during the 1980s (WRITE ABOUT 2 OR MORE EPISODES)

Charlie Wilson’s War (2007): The political side of the United States covert activities during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, 1979-1989

Too Big to Fail (2011) (TV): HBO movie chronicling the financial meltdown of 2008, and centering on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson