A couple of years ago the Criterion Collection released Orson Welles's F for Fake in a two-disc edition. I'd never manged to see this particular film, despite my fondness for Welles's work as a director, and so I eagerly bought the set.
F for Fake is a rather free-spirited documentary about forgery and deceit that looks at, among other things, the hoaxes perpetrated by Elmyr de Hory and Clifford Irving. It's all too complicated to summarize here. If you're interested, you can look at the Wikipedia entry and then start following links to all of the participants.
Well, it's impossible not to be fascinated by such people. Consequently, I went looking for a copy of Fake!, Irving's biography of Elmyr. Since there are numerous references to it in Welles's film, I thought that I should read it. It was out of print two years ago, but I easily found a used copy through a third-party seller on Amazon.com. Since Irving is a talented writer, I found the book to be a pleasure to read. I went through it in a single evening.
I started looking into Irving's other books and wound up reading his true crime story, Daddy's Girl. It too is out of print, but I found a copy at a local used book store. Once again, the book was a gripping read. If you go to this page and scroll down a bit, you'll find three lengthy interviews with Irving from 1984, 1988, and 1990. He discusses his books, his time in prison, and so forth. The interview from 1988 is devoted to Daddy's Girl.
Not too long after I watched Welles's movie and read two of Irving's books, I noticed that a film about Irving and his Howard Hughs hoax, a film starring Richard Gere, was soon to be released. I guess that it's been out for a while in the States, but is only now in release in the U.K. As you would expect, the film has been getting some attention in the British press, as has Irving himself. The Daily Telegraph published a lengthy profile of Irving about a month ago. Mick Brown visited Irving in Aspen, Colorado, and got him to talk about his life.
Irving, of course, published his own book about the Howard Hughes hoax. It's entitled, appropriately enough, The Hoax. It's the basis of the film. According to Irving himself, however, the film doesn't actually have very much to do with the truth. Go to this page on Irving's website for his take on the project.
In early 2006 I wrote a 500-word entry about Benjamin Christensen's Häxan for Steven Schneider's BFI anthology 100 European Horror Films. The book is also available in the U.S. under the same title.
If you don't know about Häxan, then I recommend that you see it. It's one of the strangest of silent horror films, since it's really more of a documentary essay than a drama, although it contains dramatic illustrations of the European witch craze. There's also a didactic aspect to the film. Benjamin Christensen, the director, was familiar with the psychiatry and psychoanalysis of his day, and he attempts to demonstrate that the origin of the belief in witches and witchcraft has a psychological explanation rooted in the phenomenon of hysteria.
For my entry I made use of the DVD available through the Criterion Collection. As far as I know, that's the only version to be found in the U.S. Unfortunately, I don't know what other editions might be available outside of the U.S.
James Delingpole talks with Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier to go over the top in World War I.
More: After I read Mr. Delingpole's article, I moused around a bit for more information. Here's the publisher's webpage for Mr. Patch's memoirs The Last Fighting Tommy, and here's a page from the BBC website with a nice photograph of Mr. Patch along with some of his recollections of the war.
Steven Thomas of McClatchy Newspapers reports on how the Democratic party is becoming more liberal. That is, there's a modest leftward shift in the party on some issues, e.g., health care, income inequality, and the war in Iraq.