Monday, May 27, 2013

Biography Films

Biographical pictures or what is commonly called bio-pic films are a sub-genre of the larger drama and epic film genres that became very popular in the 1930’s and are still prominent today.  According to the AMC filmsite “these films depict and dramatize the life of an important personage or group from the past or present era.”  One such movie, Sergeant York, came out in 1941 and is a personal favorite of mine. 
 AMC explains, “Sometimes, historical biopics stretch the truth to tell a life story with varying degrees of accuracy.”  This is not the case with Sergeant York, the story of Alvin C. York, a hillbilly from Tennessee who becomes one of the most decorated soldiers of WW1 when he single-handedly attacks and captures a German position using the same strategy he uses in an Appalachian Hills turkey shoot.  Being against war himself, York was not proud of killing and only did so to prevent more lives from being taken.  

York was opposed to having a movie made about his heroism, but under the circumstances of another impending world war, he consented to a biographical movie,  but only if the movie script was accurate.  York also specified that Gary Cooper would portray him and a non-smoking, unknown actress would portray his wife. 

The film stayed true to York’s life except that he was a corporeal instead of a sergeant at the time.  Corporeal York did not have the same sound appeal as did Sergeant York.  A great flick!


  1. There is a reference to this in Wanye's World that I never got until now. Thanks Dawn!

  2. I love bio-pics, but I haven't seen this one it has been on my list for a while. I really like The Aviator and Catch Me If You Can as bio-pics. It is just interesting to see how relatively successful people can be so flawed in their personal lives.

  3. How do bio-pics and written biographies differ in what they can or cannot do? How do they have a different life as works of art?