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The Hoax

3.0 2
Director: Lasse Hallström

Cast: Richard Gere, Alfred Molina, Hope Davis


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Director Lasse Hallström offers a brisk account of the scam that shook the literary community with this semi-comic biographical drama starring Richard Gere as the man who sold a fraudulent biography of Howard Hughes to publishing giant McGraw Hill. The year was 1971; the Vietnam War was raging and protestors filled the streets.


Director Lasse Hallström offers a brisk account of the scam that shook the literary community with this semi-comic biographical drama starring Richard Gere as the man who sold a fraudulent biography of Howard Hughes to publishing giant McGraw Hill. The year was 1971; the Vietnam War was raging and protestors filled the streets. Clifford Irving (Gere) was a struggling author with bold ambitions, and the determination needed to see them through. When Irving's attempt to sell his latest novel to McGraw Hill via his in-house publisher, Andrea Tate (Hope Davis), falls through at the last minute, the frustrated author loudly proclaims that his next novel will be "the book of the century." Upon returning to his wife Edith's (Marcia Gay Harden) makeshift studio, the humiliated author catches a glimpse of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes on a magazine cover. Later, almost jokingly, Irving and his best friend Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina) begin to fantasize about a scenario in which the author convinces his publishers that he has been personally selected by Hughes to pen the billionaire's memoirs. The revenge fantasy becomes a complicated reality, however, when Irving and Suskind approach skeptical McGraw Hill heavy Shelton Fisher (Stanley Tucci) with a series of forged letters presumably written by Hughes himself and offering unwavering support for the project. His credibility continually questioned as the ante is upped at every turn, Irving is forced to maintain the increasingly difficult charade as he strong-arms McGraw Hill to pay "Hughes" an unheard-of one million dollars for the rights to his life story, acquires a the illegally procured documents that will provide the foundation for the book, and works around the clock to meet his publisher's deadline.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Director Lasse Hallström continues his streak of underperforming but critically respected films with this adaptation of a notorious con man's memoir. Delayed releases for An Unfinished Life (2005) and The Hoax hamstrung their box-office prospects, while Casanova (2005) came and went in a flash from domestic screens, despite a stellar cast and a nimble if perhaps overly PG script. It's a shame the director isn't enjoying more of a mid-career winning streak because his work is top-shelf, and never more so than with this deeply funny, yet psychologically disturbing portrait of a liar who nearly pulls off one of the century's biggest literary scams. Richard Gere turns in one of his career-best performances as Clifford Irving, by turns desperate, needy, charming, and blustering, and rising to a new level of ability in every scene he's appearing opposite the impressive Alfred Molina as Irving's quivering, nerve-wracked partner in crime, Dick Suskind. Their relationship is the film's true heart and it's a pure joy to behold them riffing off each other as their onscreen friendship unravels. The other characters are less richly defined, with class actors Stanley Tucci, Marcia Gay Harden, Hope Davis, Eli Wallach, and Zeljko Ivanek given a moment here and there but not much else to do. The Hoax tries to be clever by cutting a third-act story development both ways, implying it's equally possible that an unexpected plot twist could have be real or could have been imagined by the increasingly unhinged Irving, but while this annoying attempt at evenhandedness only dilutes the power of the narrative, the overall film is a thoroughly entertaining chronicle of a little-remembered scandal that represents solid, if unjustly ignored work from its talented filmmaker and cast.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Miramax Echo Bridge

Special Features

Stranger than fiction; Outtakes and unused clips; Deleted scenes; Deleted scenes with commentary; Director's commentary

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Gere Clifford Irving
Alfred Molina Dick Suskind
Hope Davis Andrea Tate
Marcia Gay Harden Edith Irving
Stanley Tucci Shelton Fisher
Julie Delpy Nina
Eli Wallach Actor
Zeljko Ivanek Actor
John Carter Actor
Christopher Evan Welch Actor
Peter McRobbie Actor
John Bedford Lloyd Actor
David Aaron Baker Actor
Mamie Gummer Jane

Technical Credits
Lasse Hallström Director
Betsy Beers Producer
Carter Burwell Score Composer
Allan Byer Sound/Sound Designer
Erin Eggers Co-producer
Ali Farrell Casting
Mark Gordon Producer
Leslie Holleran Producer
Anthony Katagas Executive Producer
Gary Levinsohn Executive Producer
Joshua Maurer Producer
Tracy McKnight Musical Direction/Supervision
Andrew Mondshein Editor
Suzanne Patmore-Gibbs Co-producer
Mark Ricker Production Designer
David C. Robinson Costumes/Costume Designer
Laura Rosenthal Casting
Oliver Stapleton Cinematographer
William Wheeler Screenwriter
Bob Yari Producer


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The Hoax 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Clifford Irving (Fake, Trial, Final Argument, The Spring) became a sort of national hero when he contrived to publish 'The Autobiography of Howard Hughes', a 400 page phony but well researched book that, while it was never published, did cause enough of a stir among the New York publishing cognoscenti and those surrounding the then President Richard Nixon that it now is recognized as a HOAX of writing that triggered the final discovery of the Watergate Scandal and the subsequent dethroning of Nixon. Those facts alone make this sometimes rather tepid film interesting enough to sit through. Screenwriter William Wheeler has adapted Irving's book into a study of the 1970s and Lasse Hallström gives it just the right balance between soft crime and strange comedy to keep it afloat. Clifford Irving (Richard Gere) is down on his literary luck, searching for the right kind of story that will set is publisher Andrea Tate (Hope Davis) on fire. Irving wife Edith (Marcia Gay Harden) is an active painter and doesn't give Irving the support he gets from his pal Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina), but on the messy floor of Edith's studio is a rag magazine with a cover picture of the mysterious Howard Hughes and bingo! up comes the idea for an 'autobiography' of the wizard as confided to Irving and researched by Suskind. That is really the plot then, how these two men squirm around lies and good luck to forge papers and gain the favor of the publishers. Of course it all caves in, but in the publicity about the book Nixon's secrets are revealed and the rest is history. Gere, Molina, Harden, Davis, Stanley Tucci, Julie Delphy and Eli Wallach add immeasurably to the success of the film. No, it is not a heavy story, but the scandalous years of the 1970s are treated realistically and provide a lot of memories, both good and bad, about how we all changed in that post Vietnam time. Worth watching for that! Grady Harp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago