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Word Count: 1,389
Until the 1970s there was no such word as docudrama Prior to that time there had been no need for the word because most movies fit fairly neatly into categories of either fiction or non-fiction There was fact-based drama of course such as Gung Ho 1943 but such films never pretended to be exact re-enactments of the events they covered or the people involved In the 20 years since its invention however the term stuck and now refers to one of the most popular and controversial film genres The change from dramatization to docudrama took place during the 1970s beginning with the production of television features movies of the week that purported to give re-enactments of events and personages There were earlier films such as The Battle of the Bulge which had personalities telling a true story using dramatized facts More frequently the films were billed not as re-enactments but as purely dramaticized tales using fictionalized names and loosely based on an actual event -- a difference which left producers room to maneuver in dramatizing events and audiences with the realization that to get the facts they should check the history books During the late 1930s and early 1940s Hollywood began flirting with a subgenre similar to docudrama the historical biography -- beginning with Warner Bros The Story of Louis Pasteur 1936 which scored an unexpected hit with Paul Muni in the title role and William Dieterle who came to specialize in such films In these films the lives of great scientists Marie and Pierre Curie inventors Edison twice in Young Tom Edison and Edison The Man musicians Franz Lizst Richard Wagner sports heroes Knute Rockne and George Gip in Knute Rockne All American Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees and even businessmen Julius Reuter in A Dispatch From Reuters were dramatized by an array of Hollywood stars But none of these movies ever pretended to give more than some basic facts of the
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