10+ Best Crime Movies Based On True Stories & Events

Updated On March 22, 2016 by Pradeep Kumar | Short URL: http://movie.sc/1iw11pu  

Crime movies are awesome but do you know what is more awesome? Crime movies based on true stories and events! Because you don’t just get entertainment but also the history of the crime and you get to know what really happened. I love such movies.

Crime Movies Based On True Stories

I was stuck with normal ‘Horror’ and ‘Thriller’ movies list but when I encountered “Catch Me If You Can Movie”, I was really surprised with this movie, it was mind-blowing and the fact that this movie is based on a true guy made me watch it over 10 times in a single day. So I decided I should make a list on this. Below I have complied a list of crime movies based on true stories and events, arranged chronologically.

Crime Movies Based On True Stories

1. M (1931)

M (1931) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “M (1931)”

Fritz Lang asserts that he cast real criminals for the court scene in the end. According to biographer Paul Jensen, 24 cast members were arrested during filming.

M (1931)

Storyline: When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

True Event: Believed to be based on the real-life case of serial killer Peter Kürten (a.k.a the “Vampire of Düsseldorf”), whose crimes took place in the 1920s. Fritz Lang (director) met him and other such criminals while researching for his film.


2. Rope (1948)

Rope (1948) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Rope (1948)”

Alfred Hitchcock’s first color film.

Rope 1948

Storyline: Two young men strangle their “inferior” classmate, hide his body in their apartment, and invite his friends and family to a dinner party as a means to challenge the “perfection” of their crime.

True Event: Based on the play Rope (1929) by Patrick Hamilton. It is believed to be inspired by the real-life murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks in 1924 by University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. They did this just because they want to commit a perfect crime.


3. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Anatomy of a Murder (1959) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Anatomy of a Murder (1959)”

James Stewart’s father was so offended by the film, which he deemed “a dirty picture”, that he took out an ad in his local newspaper telling people not to see it.

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

Storyline: In a murder trial, the defendant says he suffered temporary insanity after the victim raped his wife. What is the truth, and will he win his case?

True Event: Based on a novel of the same name written by Michigan Supreme Court Justice John D. Voelker (pen name – Robert Traver). He based the novel on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney.


4. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Dog Day Afternoon (1975)”

Al Pacino’s performance as Sonny Wortzik is ranked #4 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

Storyline: A man robs a bank to pay for his lover’s operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.

True Event: Based on P.F. Kluge’s article “The Boys in the Bank”, which tells a similar story of the robbery of a Brooklyn bank by John Wojtowicz and Salvatore Naturale on August 22, 1972.


5. Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas (1990) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Goodfellas (1990)”

The word “fuck” is used 321 times, for an average of 2.04 fucks per minute. About half of them are said by Joe Pesci.

Goodfellas (1990)

Storyline: Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

True Event: Based on the rise and fall of Lucchese crime family associate Henry Hill and his friends over a period from 1955 to 1980.


6. Philadelphia (1993)

Philadelphia (1993) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Rope (1948)”

Tom Hanks lost 26 pounds during his role for this film.

Philadelphia (1993)

Storyline: When a man with AIDS is fired by his law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.

True Event: Based on or similar to the events in the lives of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain. They sued the law firm Baker & McKenzie for wrongful dismissal in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases.


7. Casino (1995)

Casino (1995) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Casino (1995)”

The costume budget for the film was $1 million. ‘Robert de Niro’ had 70 different costumes throughout the film, Sharon Stone had 40. Both actors were allowed to keep their costumes afterwards.

Casino (1995)

Storyline: Greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two mobster best friends and a trophy wife over a gambling empire.

True Event: De Niro’s character is based on Frank Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Fremont and the Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas for the Chicago Outfit from the 1970s until the early 1980s. Joe Pesci’s character is based on real-life Mob enforcer Anthony Spilotro.


8. Donnie Brasco (1997)

Donnie Brasco (1997) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Donnie Brasco (1997)”

To prepare for his role, Johnny Depp met with the actual Joseph D. Pistone a number of times, and took shooting lessons from the FBI.

Donnie Brasco (1997)

Storyline: An FBI undercover agent infilitrates the mob and finds himself identifying more with the mafia life to the expense of his regular one.

True Event: Based on the true story of Joseph D. Pistone (a.k.a Donnie Brasco or “The Jewel Man”), an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family in New York City during the 1970s.


9. Blow (2001)

Blow (2001) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Blow (2001)”

To prepare for the role Johnny Depp interviewed the real George Jung in prison.

Blow (2001)

Storyline: The story of George Jung, the man who established the American cocaine market in the 1970s.

True Event: Based on the real life stories of George Jung, Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder Rivas (in movie as Diego Delgado), and the Medellín Cartel. Jung was a major player in the cocaine trade in the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s.


10. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Catch Me If You Can (2002) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Catch Me If You Can (2002)”

The movie was filmed in just 52 days.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Storyline: A true story about Frank Abagnale Jr., who, before his 19th birthday, successfully conned millions of dollars’ worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor.

True Event: Based on the real life of Frank Abagnale. He performed cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan American World Airways pilot, a Georgia doctor, and a Louisiana parish prosecutor.


11. City of God (2002)

City of God (2002) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “City of God (2002)”

The director was once quoted as saying that if he knew the dangers of filming the movie in a Rio favela, he wouldn’t have done the movie.

City of God (2002)

Storyline: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.

True Event: Based on the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s.


12. Monster (2003)

Monster (2003) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Rope (1948)”

Charlize Theron won the academy award for playing Aileen Wuornos on 29 February 2004, Aileen Wuornos’s birthday.

Monster (2003)

Storyline: Based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a Daytona Beach prostitute who became a serial killer.

True Event: Based on the serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


13. American Gangster (2007)

American Gangster (2007) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “American Gangster (2007)”

50 Cent auditioned for the role of Huey Lucas.

American Gangster (2007)

Storyline: In 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas, a heroin kingpin from Manhattan, who is smuggling the drug into the country from the Far East.

True Event: Based on the criminal career of Frank Lucas, a gangster from La Grange, North Carolina who smuggled heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War before being detained by a task force led by detective Richie Roberts.


14. Zodiac (2007)

Zodiac (2007) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Zodiac (2007)”

The Zodiac case was reopened after the release of the film.

Zodiac (2007)

Storyline: A San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac killer.

True Event: Based on a notorious serial killer known as “Zodiac” who killed in and around the San Francisco Bay Area during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He left several victims in his wake and taunting police with letters and ciphers mailed to newspapers.


15. An American Crime (2007)

An American Crime (2007) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “An American Crime (2007)”

Ellen Page literally starved herself for her role as Sylvia. When director Tommy O’Haver noticed she was looking thinner, he asked her if she was eating and she replied “No, because Sylvia wasn’t being fed.”

An American Crime (2007)

Storyline: The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.

True Event: Base on the true story of the torture and murder of Sylvia Likens by Indianapolis housewife Gertrude Baniszewski.


16. Alpha Dog (2007)

Alpha Dog (2007) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Alpha Dog (2007)”

In a scene where they have a fight, Sharon Stone hit Ben Foster so hard that his nose started bleeding. He told her to do so, because he said the scene needed to be as realistic as possible.

Alpha Dog (2007)

Storyline: A drama based on the life of Jesse James Hollywood, a drug dealer who became one of the youngest men ever to be on the FBI’s most wanted list.


17. Public Enemies (2009)

Public Enemies (2009) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Public Enemies (2009)”

While filming on location in Oshkosh, WI a boy aged 11 told Johnny Depp he loved his fedora hat and would like to have one like it. Depp told the boy he would see what he could do about that. After filming finished, Depp sent the boy the hat in the mail.

Public Enemies (2009)

Storyline: The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.

True Event: Based on the notorious bank robber John Dillinger as he is pursued by FBI agent Melvin Purvis and Dillinger’s relationship with Billie Frechette.


18. Pain & Gain (2013)

Pain & Gain (2013) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “Pain & Gain (2013)”

The home of Frank Griga belongs to Michael Bay. It is also the former Miami home of Hulk Hogan, seen often in Hogan Knows Best (2005).

Pain & Gain (2013)

Storyline: A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.

True Event: Based on the true crime by an organized group of criminals that included a number of bodybuilders affiliated with Sun Gym.


19. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) on IMDb | Wikipedia | View Trailer

Interesting Fact about “The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)”

Real-life Jordan Belfort appears in a brief role in the film’s final scene, introducing his cinema stand-in Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Storyline: Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.


Though this list is my personal favourite I added them in chronological order, also if you think any other crime movies based on true stories deserves to be in this list, kindly let us know those movie names in the comments below.

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Pradeep Kumar

CEO & Founder at Slashsquare
I'm a Blogger, Internet Marketer, Striving Entrepreneur, Atheist, and Proud Indian. Loves to hang out with friends, addicted to movies and music, wannabe photographer, tech lover, and pretty much living an internet life.

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