The Hoax | 2007
In 1971, Clifford Irving, an ambitious yet struggling writer who's been looking for that one big story for so long, brazenly decides to make one up. At first the idea is just a savvy artistic prank, but if that's what the world wants, Irving believes he can take it further. Shrouding himself in a clever cloud of secrecy, he drops the news to a major publisher that he has been approached by the one man the entire world most wants to know about--aviator, movie mogul, ladies man and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes--to ink his priceless biography. There's just one little problem: not a word of what Clifford is saying has an ounce of truth to it. He's never so much as seen a glimpse of the real Howard Hughes. But Irving banks on the idea that Hughes' seclusion and notoriously thin hold on reality will allow the con to succeed. Hughes has not been seen or heard from in public for over a decade. He is a total recluse. Irving relies on this fact to protect his bogus story--as Hughes refuses to confirm or deny anything so prevalent is his fear of appearing in public. Recruiting his anxiety-prone but loyal best friend Dick Suskind and European artist wife into the scheme, Clifford soon finds himself in a wild maze of treachery, as he is forced to dodge the fallout of his falsehoods at every turn. What started as an adventurous lark soon turns into a seemingly inescapable maze of forgeries, thefts, tall tales, deceptions and impersonations. Yet Clifford's plan works like magic as his publishers, hungry for a bestseller at any cost, are hoodwinked by the thrill of it all. When Clifford stumbles upon possible links between Hughes and a corrupt Nixon administration, the stakes for his book grow even higher. Clifford is on top of the world until the real Howard Hughes shockingly emerges to pull the rug out from under him. Only now, Clifford is so caught up in the tale he created that he may no longer know where his incredible story ends and reality begins.