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Early in 1971, McGraw-Hill passes on Clifford Irving's new novel. He's desperate for money, so, against the backdrop of Nixon's reelection calculations, Irving claims he has Howard Hughes's cooperation to write Hughes's autobiography. With the help of friend Dick Suskind, Irving does research, lucks into a manuscript written by a long-time Hughes associate, and plays on corporate greed. He's quick-thinking and outrageously bold. Plus, he banks on Hughes's reluctance to enter the public eye. At the same time, he's trying to rebuild his marriage and deflect the allure of his one-time mistress, Nina Van Pallandt. Can he write a good book, take the money, and pull off the hoax? Written by
About 12 minutes into the movie before Irving is to meet with McGraw Hill, there is a southerly view of Manhattan with the Empire State Building in the foreground. In the distance looking toward lower Manhattan are the buildings of the World Financial Center. These buildings did not exist in 1971. Also, in 1971 the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center would be visibly under construction albeit not very tall at that time. See more »
Enjoyable Screen Adaptation of a Fascinating True Story
The Hoax is a screen adaptation of the true story of one of the most daring, bold, and intricate confidence schemes ever plotted. As a long-time fan of heists, cons, and trickery, I already knew the story before seeing the film, and so seeing the movie, I judged the portrayal rather than the story itself. Lasse Hallstrom does not make a great film, but he definitely makes an enjoyable film. Certain scenes aren't quite filmed the most powerful way they could be. Clean, nice, standard cinematography is used in scenes that have less atmosphere because of it. Other scenes, in particular the scenes of theft, lying, drama, and other intense things provoked by the dangerously dishonest mind of Clifford Irving, are given a thrilling, extremely exciting pins-and-needles feeling. In terms of the story, I learned a lot about it that I didn't know that amazed and impressed me, mostly involving the influence the scheme inadvertently had politically.
Richard Gere plays Clifford Irving well enough, but the entire time, I kept thinking of different actors who would've been much more becoming and much more intense. Clifford Irving was a man of dark, magnetic, manipulative vigor and depth. Gere plays him more dryly, as though Irving was virtually cool and carefree rather than coolly masking that intensity.
Alfred Molina, a scene-stealer as always, upstages Gere greatly as his nervous friend and partner in crime who is made to do all the high-risk dirty work, which translates into hilarity on screen.
The Hoax is a wonderful story and a good movie. If it had a different lead and broader scope in the directing, it could've been a wonderful movie, too.
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