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If you haven’t already seen it, make time for “The Hoax,” a riveting film about Clifford Irving that’s based on a true story. In 1971 Irving almost fooled publishing house McGraw-Hill into putting out his utterly fictionalized “authorized autobiography” of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

Watching Mr. Irving conceive the idea of the fake autobiography and deceive the big execs at McGraw-Hill and even the folks at Life Magazine into not only believing him, but buying and serializing the promised literary triumph for one million dollars (!!) is simply shocking. Was Irving simply a sucker for faith–in himself, that is–and his ability to pull off the almost-impossible?

Why did the big-time publishers put faith in Irving, who was only a poor-selling novelist and the last person on earth one would imagine Hughes choosing as his voice to the world? Didn’t they ever hear of the phrase, “too good to be true?”Perhaps most stunning of all is watching Irving’s own transformation from con man to believer in his own con.

If you like flicks in the genre of “All the President’s Men,” “Good Night and Good Luck,” “Shattered Glass,” and most recently, “Breach,” go see this film. “The Hoax” stars Richard Gere (giving the best performance from him I’ve seen in ages–finally in a role that suits his age), Alfred Molina, Julie Delpy, and Hope Davis, is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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