Thursday, December 15, 2011
"No one flew you to Nassau, Cliff -- you're not that important."
In 1971 writer Clifford Irving (Richard Gere) comes up with an idea to secure respect and power in the publishing field by purporting to have worked with the infamous Howard Hughes on his autobiography. Excited by what they think they've got in their hands, his agent and publishers go along with him, quelling suspicions, until the questions become insurmountable. The film details how Irving, aided by collaborator Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina) and Irving's wife, Edith (Marcia Gay Harden), comes up with some immoral if gutsy maneuverings to outwit his doubters, rips off his publishers for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and basically disgraces himself -- although Irving himself probably wouldn't have put it that way. Irving tries to convince people that his real goal was to "take down a corrupt president" in a clumsy attempt to tie it all in with Watergate and come out smelling like a rose. Irving published a book about his experiences as a con artist, which was turned into this film, for which he was undoubtedly paid good money for the screen rights, sort of proving that sometimes crime does pay. By all rights, Irving should have been completely shunned by the publishing world but he managed to see a few more books in print. Gere is quite good as Irving, if probably less obnoxious than the real man, and an excellent Molina (Spider-Man 2) steals the show as his buddy-in-crime, the forgotten Suskind. Harden and other cast members, including the always-oustanding Eli Wallach, are also notable.
Verdict: Entertaining, but basically another hoax. **1/2.