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Movies Based on True Stories

This is a sometimes confusing book. While the title says it will be about movies based on true stories, in many cases the only thing mentioned about the cited film is the title, after which the author wanders off on a tangent concerning one of the actors, a studio boss, or Australian politics. For someone claiming to be an historian he gets a lot of things wrong.

In an epic level gaffe, Royle declares that Penny Marshall’s daughter, Tracy Reiner, was fathered by her first husband, Garry Marshall. Penny’s first husband was Michael Henry. Garry Marshall was her brother.   

At another point, he mentions how much he dislikes the term “conspiracy theorist.” Understandable, really, as the screed that follows this statement makes it clear Royle may have never met a conspiracy theory he won’t fall for.  

There were several movies he mentions that I haven’t seen, leaving me a bit confused as to how they differed (or agreed with) history, since Royle never says a thing about what happened in the film or, for that matter, what it’s supposed to be based on. He just seems to assume that everyone will know. That’s not the sort of assumption an author should make.

Now, I’m not saying this is a bad book. Royle is an entertaining writer, and a fount of Hollywood gossip. It’s just that this book really needed some serious attention from a fact checker or two, which might have eliminated some glaring errors from the articles.

If you’re looking for a more serious book on the same subject, I might recommend George MacDonald Fraser’s The Hollywood History of the World.


Kindle: Buy it now.