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when the legend becomes fact.

This is a line often misquoted, often attributed to not who wrote it, but who directed the film it was in, and often misinterpreted. According to sources it was actually written by the writers who did the screenplay, Bellah and Goldbeck for the movie and isn't even in the book by Dorothy M. Johnson.

Last night I saw a show about the man known as Brushy Bill, who contended that he was the outlaw, Billy the Kid. He had many supporters in his old age, and all were adamant about his tale of outlaw origins, based mostly on believing anything he said. It would have seemed to me, just a mere glance at his physiognomy would have proven the unreliability of that story, as ears don't lie in their shape and placement on one's cranium, nor do other features. But for Brushy Bill's supporters, this seemed unimportant.

Now I would have used the methods of Milton Erickson to root out the truth, by telling Brushy Bill that if he was Billy, well, it was time to serve his time for killing someone back in his outlaw days and would have put him quickly in the slammer. But Brushy Bill, who was asking for a pardon, didn't live long enough to incarcerate him or do anything else in terms of his background claims. They have mostly been debunked now by those who have examined photos of him and compared them to Billy's facial characteristics, but the legend lives on in some minds.

Movies and the industry that make them, have long been stewards of fudging the truth, not just in films but in their publicity campaigns about stars and such. So the legendary facts are often used over the truth to gild a statement, but sometimes one wonders why one should gild a lily.

I've been watching "Project Blue Book" on the History Channel, and it seems that they think a story about an eminent scientist being employed to seek out the truth [as the military sees it] about invading forces from alien domains, and then defaulting to the other side, is not an interesting enough story without adding all kinds of extraneous fabrications to the story.

Would you rather have just the facts, the facts with some fabrication or a mix of both in a film? Please give examples of films representing the many forms of the truth in such tales on film, of western legends and those in other areas of life. 

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I don't believe any 'picture' which anyone might show me of anything. Period. Zero. All 'pictures' are inherently misrepresentations.

I can go even further than that. I don't automatically, willingly believe anything 'my eyes tell me'. If you're familiar with Husserl, Heidegger, and especially Maurice Merleau-Ponty you will fathom my attitude on this point.


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Being that I am currently wearing my Jacques Derrida club sweat shirt, I can concur with a Deconstructionist view of the world and moves, Sgt. Markoff. 

My philosophy professor, who was a Catholic Brother, was an advocate of Heidegger and regaled me with much crucial critical thinking about such things, till it all ended when he asked me to go bar hopping with him one night.

Sadly only know Jean-Luc Ponty and not Maurice!

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Some examples that come to mind--


Based on a 1922 short story.

A Hollywood western version of RASHOMON.

The Zapruder film (1963)
Interpret that any way you like. What truly happened the day JFK was shot?

CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU? (1994)
A lot of different theories about what happened to this vehicle.

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What a great list, TB! You have covered the gamut of possibilities.

I own that book with the complete script of Kane, I have read the story that "Rashomon" was based on, I own the Zapruder film video copy and love Joe E. Ross on C54WAY, but even I refuse to ever watch that horrid Paul Newman film, "The Outrage" again.

Fabulous and legendary examples and thanks!

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My eyes tell me I'm looking at my computer monitor and I tend to believe them.

Off the top of my head, The Usual Suspects has a lot of is it or isn't it so, not

to mention the recent controversy concerning stories about its director.

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[anonymously submitted quote about Project Blue Book extraneous-fabrications]

I'd been digging up reruns of the old Jack Webb-produced 70's Blue-Book "Project UFO" series, fresh off the Close-Encounters 70's UFO craze, on YouTube--And while I remembered it from my childhood as one of those "cool sci-fi shows" of the decade (aw, man, if they ever cancel "Powers of Matthew Starr"!), looking at it again, I was struck with how much Webb and the ex-Blue Book producer/consultant had designed the show to rationally debunk UFO sightings, with at least one explainable sighting explained in each episode...And, like Dragnet's Joe Friday giving his sad "Whadda we do with 'em? 😓 " head-shake every time some disgruntled citizen said "Why don't you police do your jobs for us taxpayers??", star William Jordan, doing his dead-on Webb imitation, would do the Sad Friday Head-Shake every time some average jerk-citizen in the episodes would say "It's all a big government coverup!  When are you Air Force guys going to tell the people the REAL truth about what's in Area 51??"

That caused some problems for NBC, which had been hoping for a Neato Spaceship show for the kiddies--So, in the second season, Jordan's character was replaced, and while the fictional Blue Book investigators would still bust one sighting per episode and leave another one Unexplained, the ratio of "Unexplained" sightings began to rise in the second season, and even the Explained ones would have an ambiguously backpedaling "...Or WAS IT???" last shot deliberately tacked on by the network just before the closing-credits freeze.

Think that comes under the heading of "When facts become legend..."  

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