Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
The cover is just a shot of Richard Gere’s (as Clifford Irving) top half. While this may be a real seller for some, I was kind of disappointed. Here we have a great story about one of the biggest con artists in history, and all we get is a shot of Gere. What about something to do with Howard Hughes, or the con job itself? This cover is just not a real attention getter in my opinion.
The menus are a bit better, with a background shot of Irving writing “HOAX” in the window of a car as he is taken away. The bottom part of the menu shows a typewriter up close. This would have made for a better cover shot than what they included.
The DVD includes two standard commentary tracks (one with director Lasse Hallstrom and writer William Wheeler, the other with producers Leslie Holleran and Joshua D. Maurer). Also included as extras are a few deleted or extended scenes, and a short called Stranger than Fiction, about the making of the movie. There is also a very interesting short with Mike Wallace, of 60 Minutes fame, discussing Clifford Irving and the con job that was pulled on everyone. The Wallace short is very informative, and really gives a good view of just how believable Irving really was, and how Wallace (and many others) took the bait and never questioned Irving until the truth was out. It was a cool look at just how big this con really was, and how normal people simply wanted to believe this unbelievable story. The extras are not by any means brilliant, they are informative and interesting, even if the documentaries are a tad dry.
I really enjoyed this film. It is, or course, based on the book The Hoax by Clifford Irving, and it tells the tale of Irving’s attempt to pass of a fake autobiography that he had supposedly been asked to write with reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Irving sold the rights to the fake book to publishing house McGraw-Hill, a huge firm in New York, for $1,000,000. Of course Irving never even met Hughes, and took the money for himself. The story revolves around Irving’s downward spiral as he attempts to cover his tracks and keep his book and rouse from being uncovered. Richard Gere is excellent as Irving, and I found that he was not only believable as the jittery con artist, but I found that I both felt sorry for him, and despised his character at the same time, which is exactly the way it should be. Irving’s best friend and co-conspirator is played by Alfred Molina, and his performance is also really great. The two characters were excellent together, and really made this movie click for me.
This is not an action film, or a true comedy, but it is a great drama, and the character development really worked for me. I liked the pace of the film also, as it didn’t seem to make me wait too long or linger on any one scene. For some reason this film really resonated with me, and I was completely drawn in, even though at first I wasn’t sure if I would like it. Perhaps the fact that this really took place makes it even more compelling, because as they say, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
Video & Audio: 7/10
This was a standard DVD, and the transfer was not noteworthy. It looked and sounded just fine. It was interesting to see how Hallstrom interjected shots from the Nixon era into the film however, as the grainy images really added to the feel of the film, and were a nice reminder that this was a different era. Overall this was a good audio and video transfer onto standard DVD.
This is a solid rent, even though I don’t know how many people would want to watch this over and over again. I loved this film, and the acting was superb, but like I said, it may not be a DVD that stays in my player for too long. That being said, I highly recommend this film to any viewer who likes a good story and great acting. This was a superb film.
Overall Score 8/10