The true story of Clifford Irving, a failed novelist who fabricated
an autobiography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.
The Hoax (2006)
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Written by William Wheeler
Starring Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Marcia Gay Harden,
Hope Davis, Stanley Tucci, Julie Delpy, Peter McRobbie,
Eli Wallach, Christopher Evan Welch,
John Carter, John Bedford Lloyd
Based on the book by Clifford Irving
The Hoax was such a bizarre but wildly entertaining story, the craziest being that Clifford Irving's long con was directly responsible for the Watergate scandal. A con job like this could only happen in the 1970's, when people were thinking up the craziest schemes. Irving's just happened to be a fake autobiography of the most infamous billionaire on the planet, Howard Hughes. How he got away with it for so long is a complete mystery to me, considering he had virtually no proof of his communications with Hughes apart from three poorly written letters. The fact remains that his story made for a pretty good movie.
Richard Gere leads the pack as failed novelist Clifford Irving. Gere delivers a solid performance and his chemistry with Alfred Molina (who played Irving's best friend and co-conspirator Dick Suskind) was impeccable. I liked how the film managed to interweave actual historical footage into the narrative. For some reason, that always seems to impress me. The first half of the film is more comedy, while the second is more drama. It's an interesting dynamic, since it matches Irving's climb to success and his path to self-destruction.
I can't believe that the thing that brought Richard Nixon's dirty dealings into the limelight was a fake book about Howard Hughes. No, seriously. That's why he ordered men to break into the Watergate Hotel. He wanted to know what Hughes was saying about him in the book. It's the craziest part of the story. Irving's deception uncovered Nixon's deception. It's facts like this that make The Hoax an interesting film to watch, especially if you're interested in the intricacies of the long con. It takes a special type of person to deceive so many people for so long about something that makes almost no sense.