Top 7 movies based on true crimes that are must-watch

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A list of Mafia, slaying, and mayhem epics created for you to binge-watch this summer.

Have you watched a film without realizing it was based on actual events? Usually, you learn about them at the start of a movie, but people tend to ignore those parts in a movie theater when the viewer digs deeper into the film and does a quick search to learn about the specifics to explore more about the movie. 

The events that inspired the film’s adaptation for the big screen astound them. In reality, who doesn’t want to learn about movies based on actual events? We’ve compiled a list for you to explore some of the best films made in Hollywood over the last seven decades. Furthermore, these films help us recall incidents that changed many things worldwide, whether the law or people’s perspectives.

The movies range from the 1960s, when this genre of film was heavily produced by major studios, to the current year of the 2020s, with the rise of digital streaming platforms that provide users worldwide with a much more comprehensive range of movies that they prefer to watch just a click away.

Please keep in mind that the list is ranked from the 1960s to the 2020s. As a result, keep reading to learn about year by year and discover some of the best movies you will undoubtedly enjoy and cross off your watchlist.

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Top 7 Best Movies Based on True Crimes
Credit: Warner Bros
  • Director: Arthur Penn
  • Writers: David Newman, Robert Benton, and Robert Towne
  • Stars: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Michael J. Pollard
  • IMDb Rating: 7.8 / 10 
  • Runtime: 1h 51m 


According to IMDb: Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker meet amid the Great Depression when Clyde attempts to steal Bonnie’s mother’s car. When the duo meets a dim-witted gas station attendant, their crime spree kicks into high gear. Bonnie and Blanche’s long-simmering feud soon begins.

Bonnie and Clyde’s transition from small-time robberies to bank robberies. Law enforcement, including Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, is hunting for the gang. When Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed while stopped on the side of the road, the police shoot them.

Check out the trailer below: 

Bonnie And Clyde (1967) Official Trailer #1 - Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway Movie

Badlands (1973)

Top 7 Best Movies Based on True Crimes
Credit: Warner Bros
  • Director: Terrence Malick
  • Writer: Terrence Malick
  • Stars: Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, and Warren Oates
  • IMDb Rating: 7.8 / 10 
  • Runtime: 1h 34m


According to IMDb: Holly (Sissy Spacek) is an adolescent girl who lives with her sign painter father (Warren Oates). She meets Kit Carruthers, a 25-year-old garbage collector (Martin Sheen). Holly’s stern father disapproves of Holly and Kit’s relationship and, as a punishment, shoots her dog in cold blood.

Kit and Holly are a young couple who become targets of bounty hunters. Kit kills three bounty hunters, and the couple flees once more. They make a stop at a wealthy man’s mansion, stealing supplies, clothing, and his Cadillac while sparing the lives of his housemaid and housekeeper. 

Kit and Holly are driving through Montana’s “badlands” when Kit mentions his desire to join the Mounties to Holly. A sheriff and his deputy pursue Kit across the dusty roads at high speeds. Kit pulls over, creates a stone monument of himself, and allows himself to be captured there. Kit and Holly have flown away on a military plane in the final scene to stand trial for their crimes in the final stage.

Check out the trailer below: 

Badlands (1973) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

The Untouchables (1987)

Top 7 Best Movies Based on True Crimes
Credit: Paramount Pictures Studios
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Writers: David Mamet, Oscar Fraley, and Eliot Ness
  • Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert De Niro
  • IMDb Rating: 7.9 / 10
  • Runtime: 1h 59m


According to IMDb: In the 1920s and early 1930s, the United States experienced a wave of organized crime resulting from Prohibition. Various gangs smuggle massive amounts of alcohol and use violence and extortion to maintain control over their businesses. To combat corruption, Ness recruits officers directly from the police academy.

Ness has built an impenetrable team with their fourth addition, bookish Treasury accountant Oscar Wallace. Wallace informs Ness that they can charge Capone with income tax evasion, an idea Ness appears hesitant to pursue because Capone runs the city’s illegal liquor trade and is a murderer. Wallace also begins to investigate the Capone organization’s finances. 

Elliot Ness, a young Treasury Agent, arrives in Chicago and is determined to bring down Al Capone, but he soon discovers that it will not be easy because Capone has the police in his pocket.

However, Ness meets Jimmy Malone, a veteran patrolman who is likely the most honorable on the force. He asks Malone to assist him in capturing Capone, but Malone warns him that pursuing Capone will lead to war. They enlist the help of academy cadet George Stone and Treasury Agent Oscar Wallace, an accountant who wants to charge Capone with tax evasion. Capone tries to apprehend them as they progress, but they are impenetrable.

Check out the trailer below: 

The Untouchables (1987) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Casino (1995) 

Top 7 Best Movies Based on True Crimes
Credit: Universal Pictures
  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Writers: Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese
  • Stars: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci
  • IMDb Rating: 8.2 / 10 
  • Runtime: 2h 58m 


According to IMDb: In 1975, the Chicago-based Italian Mafia hired bookie and expert handicapper Sam Rothstein – Ace to his friends – to run the Tangiers Casino. Ace can make the casino a success, which includes the process of Mafia bosses skimming profits off the top while making the entire business appear legitimate to the authorities. Nicky jeopardizes Ace’s success by reckless, violent, volatile, and ruthless behavior and his desire to establish his gangster fiefdom in Las Vegas.

Check out the trailer below: 

Casino Official Trailer #1 - (1995) HD

Zodiac (2007)

Top 7 Best Movies Based on True Crimes
Credit: Warner Bros
  • Director: David Fincher
  • Writers: James Vanderbilt and Robert Graysmith
  • Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo
  • IMDb Rating: 7.7 / 10 
  • Runtime: 2h 37m 


According to IMDb: Robert Graysmith works as a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. His eccentricities irritate Paul Avery, a reporter whose drinking interferes with his ability to do his job. The two become friends because of their shared interest in the Zodiac killer. 

As Avery’s life spirals into drunken oblivion, Graysmith becomes obsessed with the case. Graysmith’s amateur sleuthing leads him to David Toschi, a police inspector who has yet to catch the Zodiac; Sherwood Morrill, a handwriting expert; Linda del Buono, a convict who knew one of the Zodiac’s victims; and others. Graysmith’s job, his wife, and his children all pale compared to the one thing that truly matters: capturing the Zodiac.

Check out the trailer below: 

Zodiac (2007) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers

Black Mass (2015) 

Top 7 Best Movies Based on True Crimes
Credit: Warner Bros
  • Director: Scott Cooper
  • Writers: Mark Mallouk, Jez Butterworth, and Dick Lehr
  • Stars: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Dakota Johnson
  • IMDb Rating: 6.9 / 10 
  • Runtime: 2h 3m 


According to IMDb: A brief biography of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger is presented. This chapter of his life begins in 1975 when his gangster activities are mostly confined to the South Boston neighborhood where he grew up, where his group, the Winter Hill Gang, is the kingpin of such criminal activity.

Whitey is approached by John Connolly, an FBI agent who recently returned to Boston and a childhood friend of Whitey’s state senator brother, Billy Bulger, from the neighborhood, with a proposal: to act as his snitch against other Boston mobsters, most notably the Angiulos of North Boston, in exchange for protection from any FBI action against himself, with only a handful of people within the Bureau in the know.

Although he is initially hesitant because he does not want to be caught and thus identified as an informant, Whitey eventually agrees following a specific incident. The impact of their agreement on their professional and personal lives over the next twenty years is explored, as Whitey’s criminal empire is allowed to flourish through the unfettered elimination of their competition.

As Whitey does whatever he feels he can to protect his interests without fear of FBI retaliation, those in the know within the FBI begin to question whether Whitey has been of any use to them. 

Check out the trailer below: 

Black Mass - Official Main Trailer [HD]

The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)

Top 7 Best Movies Based on True Crimes
Credit: Netflix
  • Director: Aaron Sorkin
  • Writer: Aaron Sorkin
  • Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alex Sharp, and Sacha Baron Cohen
  • IMDb Rating: 7.8 / 10 
  • Runtime: 2h 9m


According to IMDb: During the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, massive demonstrations against the Vietnam War reached their peak. When a curfew was finally instated, this led to even further protests, eventually leading to a police riot. Seven demonstrators (Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Lee Weiner, and David Dellinger) were tried for conspiracy. This is the story of the trial that followed.

As a result, the hostile Nixon administration charged seven of the accused ringleaders with conspiracy, including Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers, who was not involved in the incident. 

The result is an unfair trial presided over by the belligerent Judge Hoffman (no relation) and prosecuted by a reluctant but duty-bound Richard Schultz. As their pro bono lawyers face such odds, Hayden and his colleagues are frustrated by the Yippies’ outrageous antics undermining their defiance of the system, even as Seale is denied the opportunity to defend himself his way. The Chicago 7’s political ideologies clash along the way, even as they realize they need each other in this fight.

Check out the trailer below: 

The Trial of the Chicago 7 | Official Trailer | Netflix Film

We hope you enjoy this list of the best actual crime-based movies to binge-watch and learn more about these bizarre events and stories.