F for Fake | Chicago Reader

F for Fake

Orson Welles's underrated 1973 essay film—made from discarded documentary footage by Francois Reichenbach and new material from Welles—forms a kind of dialectic with Welles's never-completed It's All True. The main subjects are art forger Elmyr de Hory, Clifford Irving, Howard Hughes, Pablo Picasso, Welles himself, and the practice and meaning of deception. Despite some speculation that this film was Welles's indirect reply to Pauline Kael's bogus contention that he didn't write a word of Citizen Kane, his sly commentary—seconded by some of the trickiest editing anywhere—implies that authorship is a pretty dubious notion anyway, a function of the even more dubious art market and its team of "experts." Alternately superficial and profound, the film also enlists the services of Oja Kodar, Welles's principal collaborator after the late 60s, as actor, erotic spectacle, and cowriter, and briefer appearances by many other Welles cohorts. Michel Legrand supplied the wonderful score.

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