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F for Fake (1973)

A documentary about fraud and fakery.


, (uncredited) | 2 more credits »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Herself - The Girl
François Reichenbach ...
Himself - Special Participant
Clifford Irving ...
Edith Irving ...
David Walsh ...
Himself - Special Participant
Richard Wilson ...
Himself - Special Participant
Himself - Special Participant
Himself (archive footage)
Richard Drewitt ...
Himself - Associate Producer (as Richard Drewett)
Alexander Welles ...
Special Participant (as Sasa Devcic)
Gary Graver ...
Special Participant


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

Plot Keywords:

fraud | biographer | ibiza | hoax | expert | See All (33) »




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

12 March 1975 (France)  »

Also Known As:

F for Fake  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 the actor Don Ameche. See more »


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


The Girl: [Pretending to quote a conversation between herself and Picasso] The best critical opinion is a load of horse manure.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Mavericks (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Contains some of the best and most invigorating editing you'll ever see
5 January 2007 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

F For Fake is Orson Welles having a lot of fun. But it is also an example of the power of effective editing – simply put, this is some of the most impressive technical cutting, swiping, panning, scanning, freeze-framing and elaborating ever put on film. It moves quicker than any other Welles film, and in fact according to the critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in his excellent Criterion Collection essay, Welles had purposely tried to separate this from his typical directorial style. The result is a film showcasing the limitless possibilities of passionate film-making – Welles was clearly in love with his material, and it shows in every frame. An entire year was allegedly spent just editing this film, and the time was well spent.

The rest of the film is just as unique – nothing like this has been done before or since. Welles called it a "new" type of movie-making: a mixture of documentary and essay. It opens with Welles performing a simple magic trick; the camera is all around him, barely allowing audiences any time to follow what's happening. Soon Welles begins to narrate the movie, but (and this is what really separates it from most documentaries) there is a decidedly theatrical quality to the proceedings. Welles chronicles the true story of the famous art forger Elmyr de Hory (as well as his official biographer and future fraud, Clifford Irving, who penned the Howard Hughes autobiography-that-wasn't-really-an-autobiography), but it doesn't feel like a documentary at all.

If you do not share Welles' passion for the subject of fraud and deception (he even recaps his own infamous War of the Worlds broadcast which nearly cost him his job at RKO), this may be a bit tiring to sit through. As one reviewer noted, it's Welles at his most personal, and this is both good and bad – good because Welles is so gleeful and joyous that it's totally infectious and, if you let yourself, it's easy to be caught up in the free flow of the film. But the bad part of this is that Welles allows himself to dabble in vices – he devotes the opening credits to shots of his mistress Oja Kodar and her back-side as she walks around a Mediterranean city catching the glimpses of men everywhere. And the finale – in which Welles tells an elaborate story about Kodar – turns into a fun and well-edited - but extremely overlong – verbal game between Welles and Kodar, preceded by an even more tiring sequence of Kodar once again walking around in provocative clothing, eventually shedding them and being captured on film in the nude by Welles for an extended length of time.

And, also, as another commentator of the film has claimed, this is a movie riddled with 1970s film-making techniques – many of which seem outdated today.

Yet, despite its flaws, a lot of them work to the film's advantage in the long run. The freeze-frames may be outdated but they help the film to develop a very distinct style which, in turn, enhances the amazing editing job.

If not for anything else, see F For Fake simply because it contains some of the best editing you'll ever see in your life. If you are a fan of Welles or share his love for the topic of deception, you'll find this to be a very enjoyable and fun little detour. It was Welles' last true finished film before his death and it seems somewhat fitting that he'd sign his departure with a project such as this: one crafted from deep passion and filled with joy and wit and wonder.

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