Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Hoax


What are you going to believe about a movie made from a book written by one of the biggest liars of the 20th Century? Clifford Irving was damn good at it, and it’s a pleasure to see him putting a world-class snow job on some supposedly smart, savvy New York publishers, never backing down from his ridiculous assertions, always upping the ante. The first half plays light-hearted, and I think it would have been better if it had stayed that way. But it shifts into an examination of lies, and the lying liar who tells them, and how difficult it can become for such a man to distinguish between truth and lies … and it’s really not up to that. I don’t care what happens to Cliff; he’s a jerk, though an amiable one. It would have worked better if it was all played for laughs. After all, who but the publishers really cares if he bilks them for a million dollars? It was a weird little incident, no more, and can’t really bear a lot of philosophical weight. I also wonder if someone born in, say, 1980, would have any idea what’s going on here. The movie seems to assume we know a lot, and though I followed the scandal at the time, I wasn’t able to fill in some blanks.