The Hoax: Screenwriter William Wheeler’s Collaboration with Director Lasse Hallstrom is Cole’s note on celluloid on how to lie through your teeth and convince just about anyone. It’s a visible piece of early 1970s literary history thanks to Wheeler’s storytelling abilities and Hallstrom’s strong directing skills. It is also an entertaining story. One that adds some new twists to the true story about an author whose recently rejected manuscript prompts him to find surefire success. In doing so, he almost manages to fool the publishing world with a falsely authorized autobiography of Howard Hughes. In the process of his scam, his underdeveloped scheme earns the designation, Con-of-the-Century, and for him an infamous position, yet prized on the cover of Time magazine as con artist of the year: his portrait of cover page. courtesy of Hory’s art forger Elmyer, who was once the subject of an earlier Irving autobiography, Fake. Even today, Irving seems to be the poster boy from the story. Hoax’s official site comes with a link to The People for the Advancement of White Lies, an organization that believes that “harmless manipulation of the truth makes the world a better place.” Your salute to Clifford Irving, the pioneer of the white lie; offers testimonials from many who applaud Irving and give thanks for having had enriching experiences following his example.
Opening with a panorama of established images from the early 1970s: protests against the Vietnam War; the hippies; the telex machine; fashions; the cars; the sounds; – the film stars a sympathetic Richard Gere, whose portrayal of Irving strikes the appropriate tones of a man inexorably caught up in his own deception. From on edge to on edge, Irving’s machinations win and lose control as often as the volley in a racquet sport. Any initial reluctance on Irving’s part turns to arrogance when the deception escapes him, causing alarm in those he involves in his charade. The friend and researcher Dick Susskind (Alfred Molina), at first enthusiastic and equally involved in the deception, recoils at different points in its denouement, but cannot escape the role of an accomplice. Wife Edith (Marcia Gay Harden) starts out as a background watcher and then becomes embroiled in deception by collecting an advance intended for Hughes in a Swiss account created under the pseudonym Helga. R. Hughes. The concert ended soon. Aspiring actress Nina Van Pallandt, (Julie Delpy), while not involved in the scam, is involved with Irving; and ultimately revels in the spotlight that follows and becomes infamously famous by mere association. It was his moment to shine and he took it like a moth to a flame.
Irving had the idea for a 1970 Newsweek cover story on Hughes titled The Case of the Invisible Billionaire. At the time of his deception, Hughes was living a lonely existence punctuated by brief bouts of strange behavior. Hughes, who suffered from an increasingly debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder, suffered so much from misophobia (a pathological fear of germs) that he avoided any public appearance for fear of contamination; hiding from the outside world for over ten years. He had not been seen publicly since 1958 and many believed that he was dead. Others thought Hughes must have gone mad from the effects of neurosyphilis, a disease he also suffered from. The combination of the two conditions was known to have severely affected his judgment, which in turn, led to rumors of extreme idiosyncratic behavior that included not cutting hair, fingernails and toenails, and staying in a room. dark for months surrounded by Mormons. guards who wore white gloves to avoid transmitting germs to their lonely boss.
Irving thought that this would allow him unquestionable control and the green light to develop his autobiography unhindered by the more common requirement of the participation of the person whose life the book is about. In an interesting twist, this story suggests that Irving received distant involvement from Howard Hughes through material sent to the author to manipulate his story in such a way as to send a Hughes message to then-President Richard Nixon. The reason for this is stated in the film as follows: Hughes supports Nixon; Nixon favors Hughes; Hughes loses favor with Nixon; Nixon separates from Hughes; Hughes secretly helps and goad Irving; Irving gets used to it; Nobody believes in the Irving story; Irving goes to jail; Hughes gets a government contract. A fearsome Nixon spawns Watergate.
… The infamous autobiography that Irving wrote is finally published in 1999 on the Internet.