Orson Welles has reworked the docu material of Francois Reichenbach on noted art forger Elmyr De Houry, made for TV about 1968, into an intriguing, enjoyable look at illusion in general and his own, Clifford Irving’s and De Houry’s dealing with it in particular.
He has deftly added himself to the affair as he is seen doing some magico stints and winkingly admitting he is a charlatan.
Welles also brings in his early fakery of becoming an actor in passing himself off as a New York thesp to the Abbey Theatre in Ireland at 16 and his Mars radio scare, also a fake, which, unlike Irving, did not lead him to prison but to Hollywood. There, according to Joseph Cotten, interviewed, he was thinking of making a fictional film on Howard Hughes which finally became Citizen Kane, loosely based on W.R. Hearst.
Welles shows his shrewd flair for visuals and montage even if he has shot only a part of the footage.
[Earlier title for pic was simply ?, subtitled about Fakes.]