F for Fake

Movie Information

Genre: Essay Film
Director: Orson Welles
Starring: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, Joseph Cotten
Rated: NR

Though it’s usually pegged as a documentary, Orson Welles always referred to this engaging, playful movie as an “essay film,” and that’s probably nearer the mark. It’s ostensibly an examination of two of the 20th century’s great fakers — art forger Emyr de Hory and writer Clifford Irving, two men Welles suggests may have become hoaxers because the world rejected their very real talents.

But it’s really clear that Welles is — more than anything — having a field day playing with his chosen art of film, in a format that allowed him to indulge his passions for magic tricks and being a great raconteur. In some ways, it’s the Welles film that most captures the sense of his famous statement that making movies was “the best set of electric trains a boy ever had.”

It’s also one of his most engaging — and slyly creative — works. It looks like a kind of cinematic doodle, until you examine it a little more closely, whereupon you realize (with some shock) that there are moments in it that are as fine as anything he ever did. And what does that make it? A fake documentary about fakers that’s really a minor masterpiece passing itself off as something less than it is? Pretty much, yes, and that’s the sheer delight of it.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

[The Hendersonville Film Society will show F for Fake at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to Lake Point Landing entrance and park in lot at left.)]

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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