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F for Fake (1973)
"Vérités et mensonges" (original title)

PG  |   |  Documentary  |  12 March 1975 (France)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 8,250 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 71 critic

A documentary about fraud and fakery.

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Title: F for Fake (1973)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Himself
Oja Kodar ...
The Girl
...
Special Participant
François Reichenbach ...
Special Participant
Richard Wilson ...
Special Participant
...
Special Participant
Alexander Welles ...
Special Participant (as Sasa Devcic)
Gary Graver ...
Special Participant
Andrés Vicente Gómez ...
Special Participant (as Andres Vincente Gomez)
Julio Palinkas ...
Special Participant
Christian Odasso ...
Special Participant
Françoise Widhoff ...
Special Participant (as Françoise Widoff)
...
Special Participant (voice)
William Alland ...
Special Participant (voice)
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Storyline

Orson Welles' free-form documentary about fakery focusses on the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory and Elmyr's biographer, Clifford Irving, who also wrote the celebrated fraudulent Howard Hughes autobiography, then touches on the reclusive Hughes and Welles' own career (which started with a faked resume and a phony Martian invasion). On the way, Welles plays a few tricks of his own on the audience. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

12 March 1975 (France)  »

Also Known As:

F for Fake  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hidden within a montage of footage of Howard Hughes is one brief shot of a man disembarking from a ship who looks similar to Hughes, but is actually actor Don Ameche. See more »

Goofs

The word "practitioners" is misspelled "practioners" in the opening credits. See more »

Quotes

Orson Welles: [quoting a phenomenal art forger] Do you think I should confess? To what? Committing masterpieces?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in La última película (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Welles' last film is rambling, full of montage, and as provocative as ironically spellbinding
19 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Orson Welles's last full-length theatrical (ahem, emphasis on theatrical) film released before his death at times is almost like the 'News on the March' segment of Citizen Kane spread out in various spurts, and then totally played upon. Like the magician and prankster that he is (arguably one might consider Welles more of a prankster than as a textbook faker), F For Fake is as much about illusion as it is about the people who create the illusions. The film examines, chiefly, art, and not just the paintings by its subject Elmyr de Hory, but also film-making, writing (which includes signatures), architecture, and in a way a kind of lifestyle in general. It's extremely appropriate that Welles, who is always trying for a pure cinema (which is his genius, past the occasionally diverting hubris), can tackle on his 'true' subjects, Elmyr and writer Clifford Irving with such tact. And, somehow, like magicians probably have to, he slips by following the rules, fooling you every step of the way.

If this was just a film about its principal subjects- not including Welles himself as he has done (this is one of many films he starred, wrote and directed, but rarely has he been so candid about himself)- it would still hold some surface fascination. Coming from a generation that grew up after Elmyr had already passed on, and only knew mildly of the whole Howard Hughes story (of which Irving was apart of), this was all news. Which in a way made it hard to focus on here and there on the first viewing. Coincidentally with Welles's takes on the 'experts', I decided not to jump right away to conclusions like some critics even with film-making do. On the second viewing it all gelled together, like the deception in all the lines in Elmyr's Matisse's. We learn about some of Elmyr's history (including one historical note that gets only one brief mention as part of Welles's use of hints in all of his work). But it's not necessarily about that which becomes fascinating.

Just watching Elmyr, and him with Clifford Irving, the hoax author of a biography on Howard Hughes (err, the old-timer in a shrouded Las Vegas hotel Hughes), is enough to make it worthwhile for the whole hour which Welles promises at the start. Then, when Welles brings back a certain femme fatale in the form of his real-life love Oja Kodar, things become further mysterious. For a man whom mystery was the subject he loved most in films aside from Shakespeare, the last ten to fifteen minutes of the film are some of his most ambiguous, seductive, nearly pointless, but oddly cool scenes filmed. Suddenly, after getting inundated with sound-bytes and trickery with the editing style (which ranks with the best Welles and his team), verite camera-work (by a talented Gary Graver), and images that freeze up, zoom in, get inopportune poses from monkeys, and bits and pieces of a French villa and dozens of paintings, things slow down. If for nothing else, F For Fake is a masterpiece of tempo.

That's not to say that some of this will appeal to everyone. It won't. It doesn't have the instant accessible entertainment appeal of a Citizen Kane or intense ambiguity of the Trial. However for a certain viewer, there is a good deal of entertainment value- certain things that are mentioned, or even in just the way it's said by Welles, can be quite funny. Which helps considering the bits that might become top-heavy with Welles's love of quotes and pondering style of narration. It's a blend of character study, history, investigative journalism (both of the human subjects and of the ideas of forgery and painting and what is real in the mid 20th century society), and some fantastic styling. If you are a film student, even if you couldn't give a damn about Elmyr or the Howard Hughes hoax or Welles's own past of hoaxing with theater/radio/cinema, just to see how the film moves at times, how images fold and bend to another, the progression, it's rather exhilarating. And the only special effect is right up the sleeve, so to speak.


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