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USA 1975
Directed by
Orson Welles
85 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

F For Fake

Orson Welles' last effort as a director is a kind of free-associating essay on the art of deception in various forms, a subject about which he has a good deal of knowledge, as a film-maker, an amateur magician, and the famous perpetrator of the "War of the Worlds" CBS radio broadcast on Sunday, October 30, 1938, that scared the American public into believing that Martians had landed.

The main drift concerns the work of Hungarian art forger Elmyr de Hory and hoax biographer Clifford Irving, neighbours on Ibiza. The latter wrote a fake biography on de Hory and, more famously, of Howard Hughes. It is an impressionistic, playful and self-reflexive film that stretches out its material thanks to Welles’ presence as ring-master and raconteur, helped by smart editing by Marie-Sophie Dubus who skilfully weaves the various strands together into a visual accompaniment for Welles' bemused voice-over.

F For Fake is entertaining enough and will be of particular interest for Welles' fans although the suggestion that a good many of the Modernist paintings in galleries today are forgeries by de Hory and his like seems less than plausible.

DVD Extras: Audio Commentary by  Dr. Adrian Martin, Senior Research Fellow, Film and Television Studies, Monash University; an insert essay by Dr. Adrian Danks, Head of Cinema Studies at the School of Applied Communication, RMIT; and a featurette, Orson Welles: One Man Band that looks at Welles’ late work through the eyes of his companion Oja Kodar who appears in F For Fake.


Available from: Madman




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