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De Rochemont Discovers Docudrama

1847 Docu-drama

Did you know that maverick film producer Louis de Rochemont won two Academy Awards? After his lengthy success with March of Time, the Seacoast NH filmmaker merged documentaries with factual dramas. We call him the "Father of the Docu-drama". De Rochemont's films were "ripped from the headlines" long before the made-for-TV movie made this genre a hot property.




SEE: Louis de Rochemont FILMOGRAPHY
SEE: More Local Film Stories

It's not easy being the parent of a wayward child. The elders live in the wake of their infamous issue, consigned to the footnotes of history. And so it has been, undeservedly, for Seacoast film producer Louis de Rochemont, father of the "docu-drama". This risky mix of fact and theater has found a permanent hideout on television. I gave up television a few years ago, but in my day this outlaw film style offered us the "true story" of Charlie Manson, Pam Smart, Amy Fisher, Bill Gates, the raid at Waco, Lady Di, John Belushi and countless others.

Louis de RochemontLong before all that, de Rochemont gave us "The House on 92nd Street" (1945), his seminal docu-drama of atomic spies and counter espionage. Like no one before him, de Rochemont ignored glitzy Hollywood sets and took his cameras deep inside the covert world of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A documentary filmmaker by trade, de Rochemont wanted to tell real stories, starring real people in real locations. The result is a gritty classic that some critics still credit as the beginning of film noir, popular into the 50's and enjoying a revival in films today.

Certainly de Rochemont influenced the noir movement (from the French for "black" film) rooted in the dark richly-sleazy crime tales of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. De Rochemont was caught up in the same fearsome War era, when the world waited to see who would become the next Evil Empire. But he did not wallow in the romance of it all, preferring the drama "ripped from the headlines" to fiction. His heroes were well-schooled ID-toting G-men, not moody alcoholic gumshoes. His style looks like film noir because film noir also drew its content from the dark crime tales that fed the city tabloids.

CONTINUE de Rochemont

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