The Best Movies About the Making of Classic Films

The art of making movies is incredibly challenging. From the creation of a story to the actual act of filming, there is a massive crew of people who often don’t get the credit that they should. The final product can be great or it can be an absolute disaster. Still, many films become iconic, whether they are good or bad.


It’s always interesting to find out the stories behind movies, especially ones where you wonder what exactly happened behind the scenes. Well, some filmmakers have taken the liberty of pulling back the curtain to show you what the development process was like for many iconic movies. These movies also manage to be riveting themselves, telling interesting stories about the real-life people who brought their visions to life. Here are seven great movies about the making of great movies.


Baadasssss!


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Baadasssss! is the story behind the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, a film from Melvin Van Peebles that heavily influenced the creation of the Blaxploitation genre. Baadasssss! is directed by Mario Van Peebles who also plays Melvin, his real-life father. Mario also had a role in the original film that created controversy as he participated in a graphic sex scene at the age of 11.


This film is treated largely as a dramatic comedy and portrays many of the controversial decisions that Melvin made while making this film. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is an unapologetic movie and it’s interesting to see how Melvin brought this movie to life. Melvin didn’t back down to corporate pressure as he wanted to create a film that portrayed what he called “ghetto realism”. There is a level of authenticity to Baadasssss! as well since Mario was there at the actual filming and knows how to accurately portray his father. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song may not be a movie everyone knows but its creation is fascinating and Baadasssss! may lead you to check out the original.

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Hitchcock


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For a story about the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, it only makes sense that an actor like Anthony Hopkins would portray him. Hitchcock mainly focuses on Hitchcock’s development of Psycho. It shows Hitchcock going through the many corporate hoops he had to jump through with such a provocative movie at the time, considering the movie had violence and killed off the main character in the first act.


It also shows Hitchcock in his element with a behind-the-scenes of the shower scene from Psycho. However, Hitchcock still remains a great character piece as it focuses a lot on the drama and tension between Hitchcock and his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren). Hitchcock does deliver on showing the difficulty Hitchcock had with making Psycho but it is still an intriguing character piece that shows an aging director trying to create his most ambitious work yet.

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Dolemite is My Name


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Image via Netflix

Rudy Ray Moore was an African American comic who made a name for himself under the stage name of Dolemite, a crude and wise-cracking personality. Moore wanted to bring this character to the big screen in a film directed and written by him simply called Dolemite. Dolemite is My Name recreates many of the moments from that film while also showing the extreme dedication that Moore put in to become successful.


Eddie Murphy came back after a long hiatus from acting for this role and delivers. He perfectly embodies who Moore was and what he strived to bring to life. Murphy is joined by a cast that includes Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, Keegan-Michael Key, and Wesley Snipes. Dolemite is My Name is itself a hilarious movie but it also manages to honor Moore and the impact he had in bringing an underrepresented group to the big screen, even if the movie itself could’ve used some work.

Ed Wood


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Ed Wood was an incredibly unique director whose odd choices led to what some consider to be some of the worst movies of all time. So, a Tim Burton movie about his life just seems like the perfect fit. Burton brings his unique direction here to create an atmosphere that makes Ed Wood feel like we are in the mind of the actual director. Everything is just perfectly awkward and odd here, including Johnny Depp’s fantastic performance as the director.


For the Wood fans out there, the film does show Wood filming some of his most well-known works including the cult classic Plan 9 From Outer Space. In addition, there are some appearances from classic Hollywood actors as well, including horror legend Bela Lugosi (Martin Landau). Burton’s biopic feels like one that Wood would not only be proud of but one he might actually make himself (thankfully, he didn’t).

Mank


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Image via Netflix

Mank tells the story of Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), a co-writer of Citizen Kane who fought with director and star Orson Welles (Tom Burke) to receive credit for his work. While Mank doesn’t contain any scenes with characters filming Citizen Kane, it mainly focuses on Mank’s writer’s block, his struggles with drinking, and the real-life inspiration he had for Citizen Kane.


However, director David Fincher still paid homage to Citizen Kane through his direction. Mank is shot in black and white and features similar storytelling where it continuously switches between the present and the past. The film also has a dazzling nostalgic score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that takes you back to this era of Hollywood. Citizen Kane is considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made and it’s fascinating to see what inspired its inception.

The Disaster Artist


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Image via A24

Fans of The Room know it as one of the worst movies ever but that’s what makes it amazing. What’s more fascinating than the creation of The Room is the man behind it all, Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau directed, starred in, produced, and wrote The Room after struggling to make it in Hollywood.

James Franco, who also directed this film, does a great impression and while there is a lot of fun made at Wiseau’s expense, it does understand that Wiseau is someone who was tired of being laughed at and wanted respect. The Disaster Artist manages to be a hilarious comedy but it also tells a charming story about the friendship between Wiseau and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), who starred in The Room and wrote the book that The Disaster Artist is based on. Fans of The Room will love seeing many behind-the-scenes looks at scenes from the cult classic, including the rooftop scene.


Saving Mr. Banks


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Mary Poppins is an absolute Disney classic. What many may not know is that making the film was no easy task as it took a while for Disney to even obtain the rights to film it. Saving Mr. Banks takes a look at this battle between Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). Travers is a no-nonsense, stubborn woman who doesn’t want to see her creation turned into Disney fluff. As the movie progresses, we see flashbacks that show Travers’ childhood and how her relationship with her father (Colin Farrell) became an inspiration for the book.

We don’t see the filming of Mary Poppins, but we do get a look inside the creative process as Travers works with Disney creatives to create this film, denying most of their requests. We even see the Sherman Brothers (Jason Schhwatzman and B.J. Novak) imagining the songs for the film. Thompson is electric as Travers and it’s fascinating to see her in a battle of wits with Disney as the two so desperately want to get their way.


What’s also impressive about Saving Mr. Banks is that it gives you a new perspective on Mary Poppins. The magical nanny didn’t come to save the children, she came to save Mr. Banks. It’s interesting to rewatch Mary Poppins with this point-of-view as you can see this in various moments. Saving Mr. Banks is an emotional look at a Disney classic that ends up having its own brand of Disney magic.


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