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Disclaimer re "resemblance to persons living or dead..."


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Welcome to the boards. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that somewhere in the past somebody got sued and the disclaimer was the lawyers' way to protect the authors or producers from future lawsuits. Especially important for shows like Law & Order where stories are "inspired" by real events. Of, course, it's not just used in films and TV, I've seen it in books and other printed works.

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It goes back to 1933. MGM was sued (and lost). The film was RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS.

 

Here are the details from wiki:

 

The model for Princess Natasha was Princess Irina Romanoff Youssoupoff, the wife of Felix Yusupov, one of Grigori Rasputin's actual murderers. Yusupov filed a lawsuit against MGM in 1933, claiming invasion of privacy and libel. The film portrays her as a victim of Rasputin, and it is implied that he raped her, which never happened. She won an award of $127,373 in an English court and an out-of-court settlement with MGM, reportedly of $250,000, in New York. The familiar disclaimer "This motion picture is a work of fiction..." in the credits of every Hollywood film is a result of the lawsuit. The scene was cut, which rendered Wynyard's character somewhat incomprehensible if the viewer of the film is not aware of this cut - in the first half of the film, Princess Natasha is a supporter of Rasputin, and in the second half she is extremely afraid of him, for no apparent reason. The laserdisc release of this film includes the original theatrical trailer, which contains a portion of this deleted scene.

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One thing we need to mention is that studios abuse that disclaimer. CITIZEN KANE was very much based on Hearst, and Hearst probably could've sued RKO and ruined them over that. Instead, he just blocked advertising for RKO in his newspapers.

 

I am sure there have been other films since then that pretend to use composite characters, when they are actually borrowing heavily (and indicting, defaming and blaspheming) real-life subjects.

 

Some of Oliver Stone's films blur that line, almost with relish.

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> THE CAINE MUTINY has the disclaimer that no mutiny has ever taken place in the U.S. Navy.

 

That was obviously added to satisfy the Navy so they could get permission to film on U.S. naval vessels.

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> {quote:title=MilesArcher wrote:}{quote}

> The movie "The Greek Tycoon" has that disclaimer. You recall that it stars Jacqueline Bisset as the widow of a slain U.S. president. She is pursued by a Greek tycoon, played by Anthony Quinn. Who were they trying to fool?

 

 

Pericles Pernassis - at least that's what Rocky and Bullwinkle called him, when they satirized him. :)

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The disclaimer is typically under the last cast member's name in the opening credits of older films ("older" meaning films from the era where all of the credits were usually at the beginning). I have seen older films where the disclaimer was not in the opening credits but was in an end-credit cast list. Usually I expect to see longer cast lists at the end of a film when there are a small number of actors credited at the beginning, but the absence of the disclaimer in the opening credits might be another clue that there will be a cast list at the end.

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