F For Fake (1973)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

Original title:  Verites Et Mensonges

France/Iran/West Germany, 1973Janus Film, SACI.  Screenplay by Orson Welles.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Film Editing by , .  

Orson Welles concludes his rich and varied career with a meditation on fakery, which to him is an essential part of storytelling.  This is, after all, the man whose fame began with a broadcast of War Of The Worlds that had radio listeners running into the streets in a panic, terrified that they were being attacked by aliens because his mellifluous voice read the transcript of H.G. Wells’ story with such conviction.  Welles pads out his examples of trickery and con artistry with footage of art forger Elmyr de Hory, who made waves with his scores of imitated paintings that fooled collectors for years, then spins onward to Clifford Irving, who wrote a book on de Hory as well as a faked biography of Howard Hughes that got him in his own brand of trouble later on.  Welles lulls you into a sense of security about everything you are watching and then turns on the tables on your expectations throughout, a high concept film that never feels pretentious or lofty as it continuously maintains its playful attitude from beginning to end.

The Criterion Collection:  #288

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