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The Hoax (2006)

R | | Comedy, Drama | 20 April 2007 (USA)
2:28 | Trailer

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In what would cause a fantastic media frenzy, Clifford Irving sells his bogus biography of Howard Hughes to a premiere publishing house in the early 1970s.


Lasse Hallström


William Wheeler (screenplay), Clifford Irving (book)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
David Aaron Baker ... Brad Silber
John Carter ... Harold Mcgraw
Judi Barton ... Marion
Raul S. Julia ... Bike Messenger (as Raul Julia Jr.)
James Biberi ... Mcgraw-Hill Security
Richard Gere ... Clifford Irving
Hope Davis ... Andrea Tate
Christopher Evan Welch ... Albert Vanderkamp
Okwui Okpokwasili Okwui Okpokwasili ... Malika
Alfred Molina ... Dick Suskind
Bob Wiltfong ... Sporting Goods Salesman
William Fowle ... Car Salesman
Marcia Gay Harden ... Edith Irving
Julie Delpy ... Nina Van Pallandt
Antonie Knoppers ... Fredrick Van Pallandt


Early in 1971, the publishing company McGraw-Hill passes on Clifford Irving's new novel. He's desperate for money, so, against the backdrop of Nixon's reelection calculations, Irving claims he has Howard Hughes's cooperation to write Hughes's autobiography. With the help of friend Richard Suskind, Irving does research, lucks into a manuscript written by a long-time Hughes associate, and plays on corporate greed. He's quick-thinking and outrageously bold. Plus, he banks on Hughes's reluctance to enter the public eye. At the same time, he's trying to rebuild his marriage and deflect the allure of his one-time mistress, Nina van Pallandt. Can he write a good book, take the money, and pull off the hoax? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Based on the true story. Would we lie to you? See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

20 April 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Apgaule See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,449,320, 6 April 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,156,933, 27 May 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The story is based on the true-life Clifford Irving, an American writer, best known for his "authorized autobiography" of Howard Hughes which turned out to be a hoax. See more »


Each time Irving and Susskind drive into town, the same cars are parked in the same places. See more »


Clifford Irving: Bumped by this adolescent coffee boy. My lit professor at Cornell compared me to Hemingway! The middle of my life is at hand, and I don't have a couch.
Dick Suskind: Think about this: Henry Miller was 38-years-old, unpublished. His wife left him for a lesbian.
Clifford Irving: You're kind to tell me that, Dick. You're a very good man. You're a good friend. Need a loan?
Dick Suskind: Always.
See more »


References F for Fake (1973) See more »


Here Comes the Sun
Written by George Harrison
Performed by Richie Havens
Courtesy of Stormy Forest Productions Inc. Masters
by arrangement with Bug
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

a film about trickery, done in a tricky style that works, with crackling performances
21 April 2007 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Lasse Halstrom isn't out, as a film-making, to make really extreme and probing insights into what goes into a prankster/forger like Clifford Irving. Maybe it's because he, like I, saw Orson Welles's film F For Fake, which covered similar ground and has the only substantial footage of Clifford Irving on record and in full bloom with his BS meter going sky-high. That film, overall, dug very deep into what is to have forgery, a hoax, as part of personality. Halstrom doesn't quite get that, but nevertheless he's made an entertaining mini-saga of a man- or rather men in this case- who went to the edge of credibility and almost got away with the whole shebang. His story, as covered as well in part in F for Fake, is about Irving's incredibly smart and incredibly stupid attempt at passing off as his own the autobiography of Howard Hughes, then the notoriously reclusive and nutty billionaire with his fingers in enterprises all over the world. He passes off Hughes's handwriting to the publishers and lawyers as his, even as it's really Irving who wrote it all, and even went so far as to have mock audio recordings of Irving AS Hughes to get down in the book via assistant Dick Suskind. As the walls seem to be closing in on their scam, as well as Irving's marriage, it goes as far as mass printings of the book Irving presents- until the 'real' Hughes makes a press conference call (call, of course), to disprove the book altogether as a hoax.

Halstrom surprisingly makes his film light and dark in tone, depending on what stage the story is in, and it's even fun at times to see Irving and Suskind go about their risk-taking maneuvers to get all documents and information they can on Hughes, as if it's guerrilla research. Then as the despair of constant lying increases, and the threat of capture and revelation is nearer, Halstrom makes it more like a paranoid thriller. This latter part may actually be not quite as convincing- so to speak of course, as one can't be sure entirely what's true or not in The Hoax- because, simply, one might not see Irving so much as a crazy person ala Hughes so much as a kind of strange artist-cum-professional at what he does: to make himself believe the BS before he even feeds it to others. Scenes like Irving getting caught by Hughes's "secret agents" in the middle of the night are not as striking as Halstrom might have intended, even as all the while the performances are still good. And the realm of placing the story in context of the times is hit or miss; it works, to be sure, when going into the Nixon administration sections because it's crucial to the story (and, according to some articles on the film, is possibly really accurate), though putting in the footage of Vietnam and protesters and so forth are sort of padding to environment and period. The music, costumes, locations (i.e. Las Vegas) and simple political ramifications make it enough.

This being said, The Hoax provides the audience with some very effective performances. Gere, under the right director, can be terrific, and this is one of his best performances in years, as he balances out Irving's higher aspirations of wealth and notoriety with his latter plunge into confusing his own personality with that of Hughes, with suspicions of everything or anyone around him. The filmmakers wisely don't make Irving very sympathetic, and Gere plays this for all it's worth with moments of charm, tension, and delusions of grandeur played out wonderfully. However, if Gere is good, Alfred Molina is better as Suskind, Irving's collaborator and the real behind-the-scenes guy who helps make Irving's fabrications all the more palatable, like hiding documents out of the Pentagon or flying to another country to mail an envelope. Suskind, unlike Irving, ends up dealing with the hoax with more of a psychological/moral burden, and it ends up weighing on his conscience like a brick. It might make Suskind the more conventional character in the movie, but Molina makes him very real and more of the tragic case than Gere's Irving. Molina's track record, at the least, remains untarnished. Other supporting players like Marcia Hay Harden, Julie Delpy, Eli Wallach, and Stanley Tucci are better than average here.

The Hoax is a good treat in this month's lot of schlock and big-budget trash by sticking close to making it an actor's movie, and sort of a bittersweet take on what a hoax does in such a grand scale as that of Howard Hughes, and what it does to a person the longer and more intense it goes on for.

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