Reviewed by Steve Sailer for The American Conservative
April 23, 2007
In the 1970s, billionaire Howard Hughes's name was as omnipresent as Donald Trump's is today, even though the paranoid recluse was never seen. Since then,
Now, "The Hoax" rounds out cinematic Hughes lore with a comic biopic of novelist Clifford Irving, the scamster who brought the world's Howard Hughes obsession to a crescendo in 1971-72 when he extracted huge advances from the greedy and credulous
"The Hoax" isn't in the same class as "The Aviator" and "Melvin and Howard," but it's significantly better than typical April releases. As
It's even more entertaining to see an excellent actor like Alfred Molina, who was painter Diego Rivera in "Frida," portray an inept liar. In "The Hoax," Molina plays
Director Lasse Hallström ("Chocolat") and screenwriter William Wheeler have included in their press notes an unusually frank list of what's fictional in "The Hoax." What they don't reveal, however, is more interesting: how they've reworked
Today's moviegoers admire marital stability, so "The Hoax" forgets to mention that
Exciting more controversy is the film's claim that
While overstated, this is not wholly implausible. Nixon had several shady links to Hughes, such as the tycoon's unsecured $205,000 loan to his brother Donald's Nixonburger restaurant chain. Nixon believed the revelation of this dubious deal may have cost him the exceedingly close 1960 election. A decade later, according to his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, Nixon was irrationally obsessed with plumbing the relationship between Hughes and O'Brien.
The truth is that we still don't really understand Watergate, mostly because, in sharp contrast to the JFK assassination, the media haven't been all that interested in finding out precisely what happened. The good guys won and bad guys lost, they reason, so why bother with details that might muddy the glorious memory?
Rated R for language and nudity.