Biography

Zorn (1994) Gunnar Hellström, Linda Kozlowski, Liv Ullmann, Biography, Drama

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Swedish painter Anders Zorn gained notoriety for his nudes. His works are currently worth millions. The film is set in the time when Zorn, already respected for his art, was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Swedish king. Though an excellent painter, Zorn’s personal life is dreadful. A boozer and a womanizer who frequently cheats on his wife, Zorn constantly seeks approval for his art. When he travels to the U.S. for a tour he meets Emilie Bartlett the wife of sculptor Paul W. Bartlett with whom he begins a sporadic affair. After Paul commits suicide, Zorn and Emilie move to Sweden. Zorn disregards his wife’s feelings and openly displays his affections for Emilie.

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12 O’Clock Boys (2013) Lotfy Nathan, Coco, Pug, Steven, Documentary, Biography, Crime

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Pug, a wisecracking 13 year old living on a dangerous Westside block, has one goal in mind: to join The Twelve O’Clock Boys; the notorious urban dirt-bike gang of Baltimore. Converging from all parts of the inner city, they invade the streets and clash with police, who are forbidden to chase the bikes for fear of endangering the public. When Pug’s older brother dies suddenly, he looks to the pack for mentorship, spurred by their dangerous lifestyle. Pug’s story is coupled with unprecedented, action-packed coverage of the riders in their element. The film presents the pivotal years of change in a boy’s life growing up in one of the most dangerous and economically depressed cities in the US.

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Flight for Freedom (1943) Lothar Mendes, Rosalind Russell, Fred MacMurray, Herbert Marshall, Biography, Drama

Flight for Freedom (1943)
Fictionalized biography of Amelia Earhart (here called Tonie Carter). First, a flagwaving preface about air warfare in the Pacific; then flashing back to her first solo flight in 1932; whirlwind romance with sexist ace pilot Randy Britton; advanced training; a transcontinental race; world fame; first, aborted round-the-world flight; and her famous disappearance. This film popularized the theory that Earhart’s disappearance was connected with secret work for the U.S. Navy.

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Elizabeth I (2005) Helen Mirren, Hugh Dancy, Toby Jones, Biography, Drama, History

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Emmy-winner Helen Mirren and Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons star in Elizabeth I, a two-part HBO Films miniseries event that explores the intersection of the private and public life of Elizabeth I (Mirren) in the latter half of her reign, offering a personal look at her allies, her enemies and her suitors as she struggled to survive in a male-dominated world. Part 1 explores the middle-aged Elizabeth’s tempestuous relationship with the Earl of Leicester (Irons) as it survives a French suitor, war, treason, and illness. Part 2 follows Elizabeth through her later years, during which she had an equally passionate affair with the young, ambitious Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy), who had been raised, ironically, by his stepfather Leicester.

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Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004) Ken Burns, Jack Johnson, Keith David, Samuel L. Jackson, Documentary, Biography, Sport

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The story of Jack Johnson is huge. The first black Heavyweight Champion of the World, 1908 to 1915, he was rowdy, smart, rebellious, and proud. He was also resilient in the face of unrelenting racism. And, as Stanley Crouch observes in Ken Burns’ Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, “There is nobody like Jack Johnson, because, first thing, when Jack Johnson was fighting, he could have been killed at any of his major fights. There were people out in the audience who were probably willing to murder him. He knew it, they knew it, everybody in the world knew it.”

Talented and world-famous as a young man, as well as essentially unbeatable, Johnson was champion when (official, as opposed to underground) boxing was a wholly white province, when the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Jack London, all editorialized as to natural orders, in which African Americans were humble and inferior, and Caucasians were honorable, strong, and always right. And yet, as courageous and frankly brilliant as Jack Johnson was, his story is frequently forgotten in the wake of more recent flashy sports and other celebrities.

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Drake of England / Drake the Pirate (1935) Arthur B. Woods, Matheson Lang, Athene Seyler, Jane Baxter, Action, Biography, Drama

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Drake of England was released variously to the British Empire, its commonwealths and the United States as Drake the Pirate and Elizabeth of England. In an agreeably compact fashion, the film recounts the exploits of British privateer Sir Francis Drake (played by the slightly long-in-tooth Matheson Lang), culminating with his 1588 triumph over the Spanish Armada. Athene Seyler appears as Queen Elizabeth I, bad wig and all. A goodly portion of screen time is devoted to the secret marriage between Drake and one of Elizabeth’s ladies-in-waiting (Jane Baxter). Drake of England was based on a flagwaving stage play by Louis N. Parker.

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Seven Angry Men (1955) Charles Marquis Warren, Raymond Massey, Debra Paget, Jeffrey Hunter, Biography, History, Western

Seven Angry Men (1955)
Fictionalized account of abolitionist John Brown and his six sons who fought to ensure Kansas would enter the Union as a slave-free state. Firmly believing that he was doing God’s work, Brown was prepared to use force and violence to achieve his goals. His principal adversary is Martin White who organizes the raid on the town of Lawrence, burning it to the ground. Brown becomes judge, jury and executioner killing five of the raiders. Several of his sons disagree with him and leave. After completing his work in Kansas, Brown continues his quest to end slavery. His fervent belief that violence was the only way to achieve his goal led to his demise, convicted of treason and hanged after the raid on the federal armory in Harpers Ferry.

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