Truth and Lives on Film

The Legal Problems of Depicting Real Persons and Events in a Fictional Medium, 2d ed.

Original price was: $39.95.Current price is: $19.99.

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About the Book

As early as the Silent Era, movie studios were sued over depictions of real people and events. Filmmakers have always altered the details of true stories and actual persons, living or dead, to make narratives more workable and characters more compelling. When truth and fantasy become inextricably mixed, the effect on people’s lives can be significant, even devastating.
This expanded second edition presents an updated history of legal issues surrounding the on-screen embellishment of reality, with a focus on important court decisions and the use of disclaimers. Seventeen courtroom dramas are given fact-versus-fiction analyses, and the The Perfect Storm (1991) is covered in extensive detail. A concluding chapter is devoted to actors who became so identified with fictionalized characters that they sought exclusive rights to those personas.

About the Author(s)

John T. Aquino is an attorney, journalist and author in Silver Spring, Maryland. He has served as editor of three national trade magazines, has written several trade books, short stories, and over 4,000 bylined articles for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and websites on entertainment law, intellectual property law, and other issues. He is a member of several state and federal bars, and the National Press Club and the Mystery Writers of America.

Bibliographic Details

John T. Aquino
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8823-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4656-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
I. Fictionalization in Movies and Television 9
II. The Disclaimer and the Myth of Fictionalization 26
III. Fictionalization Goes to Court 52
IV. The Perfect Storm 76
V. Courtroom Movies Based on Fact 92
Trial of Thomas More (1535)
Film: A Man for All Seasons (1966) 92
Amistad Trial (1840)
Film: Amistad (1997) 99
Trial of William “Duff” Armstrong (1858)
Film: Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) 105
Trial of Mary Surratt (1865)
Film: The Conspirator (2010) 109
Andersonville Trial (1865)
Film: The Andersonville Trial (1970) 114
Trials of Oscar Wilde (1895)
Film: The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) 124
­Leopold-Loeb Trial (1924)
Film: Compulsion (1959) 129
State of Connecticut v. Harold Israel (1924)
Film: Boomerang (1947) 136
Scopes “Monkey Trial” (1925)
Film: Inherit the Wind (1960) 139
Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1925)
Film: The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) 146
Nuremberg Judges’ Trials (1948)
Film: Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) 150
­Reynolds-Pegler Libel Case (1954)
Film: A Case of Libel (1983) 164
Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1958–67)
Film: Loving (2016) 168
Trial of the Chicago 7 (1968–69)
Film: The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) 172
Big Dan’s Tavern Rape Trial (1983)
Film: The Accused (1988) 177
Von Bülow Murder Trial (1985)
Film: Reversal of Fortune (1990) 181
Trial of the Memphis 3 (1993–2011)
Film: The Devil’s Knot (2013) 184
VI. What Protection for Dramatic Fictional Personas? 190
Afterword 222
Chapter Notes 225
Bibliography 249
Index 253

Book Reviews & Awards

From the first edition:

• “Provides a framework for thinking about legal issues in film”—Choice

• “An excellent and concise study of the many legalities pertaining to ‘fictional-factual’ movies…highly recommended”—Hal Erickson, author of Any Resemblance to Actual Persons: The Real People Behind 400+ Fictional Movie Characters