F for Fake (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

F for Fake (1974)



Critic Consensus: F for Fake playfully poses intriguing questions while proving that even Orson Welles' minor works contain their share of masterful moments.

Movie Info

Orson Welles appears as himself in this witty and subversive film essay on fakery and forgery, art and illusion. Taking footage from an earlier Francois Reichenbach documentary on art forgery -- based on a book by the literary hoaxer Clifford Irving -- Welles worked his own clips into it, re-editing the original footage extensively. In the film, he tells of the success of his own fakeries, from the lies which got him into Ireland's Abby Theater, to his famous radio hoax about an invasion of Martians, and his subsequent career as an actor and film director. All of these memories are interspersed in a sort of documentary within a documentary about the art forger Elmyr de Hory -- a woman who conned Picasso out of almost two-dozen paintings -- and musings over the life of Howard Hughes and the man who forged an "autobiography" of Hughes, Clifford Irving. This 1973 production was the last full-length film Welles made.

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Orson Welles
as Himself
Oja Kodar
as The Girl
François Reichenbach
as Special Participant
Paul Stewart
as Special Participant
Gary Graver
as Special Participant
Peter Bogdanovich
as Special Participant
William Alland
as Special Participant
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News & Interviews for F for Fake

Critic Reviews for F for Fake

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (19)

F For Fake is minor Welles, the master idly tuning his instrument while the concert seems never to start again. But it's engaging and fun, and it's astonishing how easily Welles spins a movie out of next to nothing.

October 11, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The result is a curious, unsatisfactory pastiche of documentary tidbits acquired from Reichenbach and speculative filler supplied by Welles himself.

October 11, 2015 | Full Review…

The last film to be completed by Orson Welles is also probably his most challenging. A tricksy combination of documentary, discourse and sleight of hand, F for Fake is as elusive as it is playful.

October 11, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

For all its nods, winks and witty asides, it's a richly personal work, picking over the questions every creative artist must eventually ask: Am I 'for real'? Does it matter? And what is all this work worth, anyway?

October 11, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

F for Fake is as grand, multitudinous, and original as Welles himself.

October 11, 2015 | Full Review…

Welles stretches his material and his legend just about as thin as possible in this tedious treatise on truth and illusion.

October 11, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for F for Fake

Sui generis documentary impregnated by Welles' panache, wit and love for celluloid

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

A totally unique experience, master director/actor (etc.) Orson Welles creates his late masterpiece with his expose on trickery.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer


A documentary/essay about the art of trickery. Opening with a series of magic tricks, performed by Welles himself, the movie explores two characters who became famous for lying, for tricking others, and by doing it pretty damn well. Very engaging, fun, you can see this as the blue print for many modern documentaries that use a similar style of "free" narrative/performance mode. Movies are a form of fakery after all, Welles is the first one to call himself a charlatan, and with great wit he takes us to this fantastic voyage of illusions, a house of mirrors. What matters is not things being "real" or "fake", but how interesting, appealing and well made they can be.

Tsubaki Sanjuro
Tsubaki Sanjuro

Super Reviewer

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