Whistleblower Books & Movies


The Tears Garden follows in the tradition of many of the great whistleblower sagas, both in print and on screen. The quest for social justice and the exposure of corruption in high places have provided the source for many compelling books and movies. We live in an age where the gap between conspiracy theories and the truth has never been closer. Below are some classic examples of the genre.

When I looked at the clock again, it was 4.44. I was about to call it a night but decided to do one last search of the archives. Among the numerous pages of documents that were returned I stumbled upon one that was stamped in red with the words Confidential - Commerically Sensitive...



Made in 1954, On the Waterfront was one of the first movies to have a whistleblower, albeit a reluctant one, as its central protagonist. Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando), an ex-prizefighter, battles union corruption on the New Jersey waterfront, putting him in direct conflict with his brother Charley (Rod Steiger) and his ruthless boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). The story had its roots in true life, produced as it was a year after the foundation of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor (WCNYH) that was introduced to stamp out many of the crooked practices featured in the movie. Terry is both driven and supported in his actions by Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint) and priest Father Barry (Karl Malden). The taxi scene between Terry and Charley has become iconic over the years and still makes for powerful viewing to this day.

on the waterfront movie



Billee Shoecroft literally lived and died by her words. Long before such popular whistleblowers as Erin Brockovich, Billee Shoecroft fought one of the biggest corporations in the world, and won! Sadly, this woman from the historic mining town of Globe, Arizona is largely forgotten, but her book Sue The Bastards still stands as a testimony to her brave achievements. It chronicles a dark chapter in the town’s history when the toxic chemical Agent Orange was sprayed in local canyons, and people in the vicinity began to fall sick, and even die. Billee Shoecroft was one of those who paid the ultimate price for that corporate greed. Most tragic of all, she passed before knowing that she had won her David and Goliath battle.

sue the bastards billee shoecraft



If any word has come to be associated with corruption and whistleblowing in high places, that word is Watergate. Indeed, almost every scandal since has come to be known as a gate of some kind. All the President’s Men was published in 1974 and was based on the investigative reporting conducted by its authors for The Washington Post two years earlier that had brought down President Richard Nixon The articles had exposed the involvement and subsequent cover-up by Nixon and other members of the administration revolving around a break-in at the Watergate Office Building in the capital, home of the opposition Democratic National Committee headquarters. The title of the book originated from the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, as had Robert Penn Warren’s earlier 1946 novel based on Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, All the King’s Men.

all the presidents men book



Based on Harry Harrison’s classic sci-fi novel Make Room! Make Room! , Soylent Green is perhaps one of the most prophetic movies ever made. Set in New York in the year 2022, Charlton Heston plays NYPD detetctive Robert Thorn, who in the course of a seemingly routine homicide case, stumbles upon a nightmarish conspiracy involving a powerful corporation and the government. He is assisted in his investigations by aged researcher Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson). It is easy to draw parallels between the dystopian and authoritarian world so dramatically conveyed in the movie and that of the pandemic and post-pandemic era. From food shortages to curfews, so much has a familiar ring. While at first glance, it is easy to categorize the movie as an early eco-thriller, it is much more than that. Soylent Green, as its promotional tagline and dramatic final words so boldly proclaims, is about PEOPLE!

soylent green movie



Erin Brockovich has become one of the most popular of all whistleblower movies. Released in 2000 and starring Julia Roberts, it chronicles the true-life struggle of its namesake, a legal clerk turned environmental activist, to secure compensation for the victims of a water pollution scandal. Together with her boss and mentor Ed Masry (Albert Finney), they take on the corporate might of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) who have effectively poisoned the water supply of the local California town of Hinkley. Erin Brockovich herself put in a cameo appearance as a waitress. Since then, we have seen many similar cases, from Flint, Michigan to Dupont, West Virgina, accompanied by a much greater public awareness and will to fight. The movie Dark Waters was inspired by the latter.

erin brockovich