Powerful Movie Biographies – Review Page

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This Movie Biographies Page contains a growing list of our favorite movies for the entire family!

We love watching biographies because they inspire us to achieve things we never dreamed possible. We especially like watching about men and women who defied the odds, overcame great obstacles and dreamed great dreams. Standing on their shoulders, we believe that we can attain great things too.

We realize that many movies are just short glimpses into a hero’s life and that they are often interpreted by writers and directors to have more “crowd appeal” than “real life.” If there is a biography that really piques your interest, please pick up the book or two so you can get a truer picture of the real person.

October Sky

The movie October Sky is based on the life of a young boy , growing up in a coal mining town in West Virginia, dreaming of becoming a rocket scientist.

Homer’s Inspiration

Homer’s father is the superintendent of the coal mine that the town is built around. Homer’s older brother is a star football player. Much to the disappointment of both, Homer doesn’t aspire to work in the mine and is a terrible football player. The inspiration for Homer’s future came on October 4, 1957, when he, along with the rest of the town, stood mesmerized as Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to be successfully launched, shot across the Coalwood, West Virginia sky. At that moment Homer’s knew his future was set.

The movie chronicles Homer’s attempts, along with three of his Coalwood friends, to build and launch their own rockets.

Homer’s Support Network

Miss Frieda Riley, their high school algebra teacher provides guidance, resources, and encouragement to “reach for the stars.” The faithful teacher watches as the boys struggle and research through multiple rocket launch failures, until the day that they discover the solution in formulating a semi-solid rocket fuel. Success and improvement then become their goal. Miss Riley is totally behind their pursuit, in spite of the antagonism that the high school principal and Homer’s father constantly ridicule the boys with.

In the end, father and principal are won over and the whole town supports the boys as they enter a local science fair and are catapulted into the national completion.

The Rocket Boys’ Victory!

Each of the four friends earns college scholarships and degrees; quite an accomplishment for four “geeks” in a town where the only opportunity for scholarships and getting out of the mining town are offered to those who excel at sports.

A group of high school students looking up at the sky as model rocket is launched in the movie October Sky. This is a great story of hope, perseverance and pursuing dreams. If you want to inspire your kids or need some inspiration yourself, this movie will encourage you to reach for the stars!

October Sky is based on the life of Homer Hickham. Family friendly, mild profanity.


Rudy is a true story about a little guy with a big dream – to play for Notre Dame Football. It’s a story about perseverance and courage in the face of criticism and discouragement. Rudy (Daniel Ruettiger) was raised in Joliet, Illinois in an Irish Catholic family of 14 kids.

Rudy is a true story about a little guy with a big dream – to play for Notre Dame Football. It’s a story about perseverance and courage in the face of criticism and discouragement. Rudy (Daniel Ruettiger) was raised in Joliet, Illinois in an Irish Catholic family of 14 kids. School was difficult for Rudy due to a learning disability (dyslexia) and a lisp.

Although Rudy’s family believed that all the boys in the family will follow their father into the steel mill, Rudy has bigger dreams.

Rudy does work in the steel mill for 2 years and by living frugally, is able to squirrel away $1000 (in 1974 dollars) toward tuition at Notre Dame. But when a tragedy strikes Rudy is compelled to pursue his dream now, instead of waiting until he had more money saved.

Rudy Goes to College

He heads to Indiana to chase his dream of Notre Dame University and playing football there. The road to the goal is full of discouragement, gentle mentors and a few hilarious twists and turns. Rudy works harder than he imagined he could and finally gains admission to Notre Dame. He works odd jobs to pay his tuition, room, and board. And with absolute abandon, he walks-on and tries out for the legendary Fighting Irish football team.

Eventually, he makes the practice squad . . . basically a bunch of “tackling dummies” for the A-team. Despite his small stature (he’s only about 5’ 7” and 150 pounds in a world of 6’ tall 200 plus pounders) Rudy perseveres through 2 years of brutal practices and lots of bumps and bruises, and in the end earns the respect of all of the varsity players and the coaches because of his heart to be excellent.

As we watched this movie we were inspired to reach our goals. There was a great interview with the real Daniel Ruettiger on the DVD that was almost as inspirational as the rest of the movie.

The Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskeegee AirmenAirmen  is based on the true story of the 332nd Fighter Squadron. It is the dramatic story of a black squadron of Air Force flyers that take on a dangerous WWII mission. It chronicles their training and the prejudices they endure as they bond to fight the mission of their lives.

Despite having to battle overwhelming bigotry from their U.S. military leaders, these intelligent and devoted fighting men do earn their wings and move on to serve their country by escorting a squadron of bombers to Berlin to deliver their payloads. Before the “Red-tails,”  (Tuskeegee Airmen) showed up,  other pilots tasked with escorting the bombers had failed to show up for their mission of certain death.

WWII Changes Everything

At that point in World War II, the AXIS powers were delivering crushing defeats to Allied bombers, literally blowing them out of the sky. The Tuskegee Airmen displayed their devotion to their country and their courage by taking on the challenge and helping to win the war.

This movie is of particular interest to us because our back-fence neighbor in Scottsdale was in the second or third class of Tuskegee Airmen and eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General.  This movie is rated PG-13 – language and crashes.

Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire is a classic movie about determination, overcoming obstacles and devotion to faith in God. This 1981 classic film tells the story of two young athletes and their pursuit of their dream to run in the 1924 Olympics.

Eric Liddle– played by Ian Charlson – is from a Christian missionary family. He’s very committed to his faith and believed that God made him to be a fast runner. And that when he runs, God is pleased.

Harold Abrahams – played by Ben Cross – is a Jewish student at Cambridge. He is also a fast runner but lacks the humility and faith that defines Eric Liddle.

The story traces their preparation to run, their motivation to win and their attitudes as they compete against each other.

Liddle beats Abrahams in a race which leaves Harold despondent and angry. Despite the loss, both men make the British Olympic team and compete well. There is a tension in both men’s lives.

To Run or Not to Run on Sunday

Liddle is crushed when he discovers that his event is scheduled for a Sunday because he has a conviction that he should not run on the Sabbath.

Abrahams chooses to hire a coach to train him which flies in the face of British Olympic traditions.

Despite the tensions, they both work diligently to achieve their goals and are rewarded in the end.

There are many life lessons that you can take away from this film:

  • A disciplined work ethic
  • Goal setting
  • Staying focused on a goal
  • Staying true to your convictions
  • Faith in God and a willingness to sacrifice for what you believe

The story behind Chariots of Fire will inspire you, but the movie’s theme song will motivate you also. It’s a classic and should be played loud with surround sound and a powerful sub-woofer (this is Steve’s preference). As you listen, you’ll almost feel the wind blowing through your hair as you run down the beach.

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace – the story of William Wilberforce and his determined pursuit to freeing the slaves in England.

This is one of our favorite movies of determination and overcoming extreme odds. William Wilberforce is a politician who is committed to eradicating slavery in England in the 1800’s. He not only battles political opponents, greedy businessmen, but he also has to battle a physical malady that causes him extreme pain.

The Pride of the Yankees

Pride of the Yankees is a classic story and tribute to baseball legend Lou Gehrig. The movie chronicles his life from playing baseball in the streets of New York as a child through his college days and finally to his run with the Yankees.

It’s a story of sweetness and determination. Gehrig wrestles with his desire to please his mother and become an engineer and his love of the game of baseball. He also struggles with chronic shyness, especially around women.

Gary Cooper does an excellent portrayal of the humility of Lou Gehrig. You’ll find yourself smiling at his mother’s ignorance of the game of baseball. Cheering as Gehrig gets an opportunity to finally play in the big leagues. And you’ll shed a tear as you see him come to grips with a debilitating illness that ended his career and later his life.

There is even a cameo performance by the real Babe Ruth – another baseball legend. And you’ll probably also recognize veteran actor Walter Brennan who plays news reporter Sam Blake.

This is a wholesome and inspiring movie – good for the whole family.

Other Movie Reviews to Come

Cool Runnings — John Candy. We love the teamwork, determination, and fun this movie encourages. Jamaica’s first Bobsled Olympic Team.

Johnny Tremaine — Disney movie timed around America’s Revolutionary War.

Sergeant York — Starring Gary Cooper, WWI (Just a side note: Annette’s Grandfather, Peter Rossa, fought in WWI and was taught to shoot his rifle by the real Sergeant York!)

When a young man has to struggle with fighting in a war versus his moral convictions against killing, you see the real character of Alvin York. Terrific war movie for WWI buffs.

Watch the trailer below:

If you have a favorite Biography that isn’t listed, please mention it in the comment section and we’ll consider it for this page.

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