Drama based on the true story of Clifford Irving (Richard Gere), a novelist who convinces a publisher to accept a fake autobiography of reclusive billionaire aviator Howard Hughes.
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This film contains very strong language
Dana? Dana, can you hear me?
Just follow the instructions.
No! No "N"!
-It's very becoming, though. I like that.
(BABBLE OF VOICES)
Guys, there's nothing I can do. The meeting's going to be cancelled.
Top four floors are closed off. Don't know what's going on.
It doesn't matter. Nobody's supposed to be there.
Just follow the instructions. Is that so hard? Clifford...
It's 2.30, and my interns are stranded. Where is he?
-I think we got something.
-Oh, my God. Is that him?
-Do you see it?
-Oh, my God!
-He's here! He's here!
-Clear the roof!
-Get your things!
-Go! Come on!
-All right, all right!
He keeps his promises.
-Malika, Clifford is the man who wrote Fake,
excellent book about the...guy... artist...I'm blanking...
-(ALL) The art forger.
Elmyr de Hory was his name. He forged Picassos, Matisses...
-The whole theory of, er...
-..forgery as art, what is art...
-Very subversive kind of act.
-The book sold poorly.
-It could've done better...
-Let's not talk about that.
The new one! Fiction.
I like it. You were right.
-Malika liked it, too.
-I did. It was stunning.
It scared the hell out of me. It's an angry book.
But funny! I read it. I think it was hilarious.
It wasn't angry to me. It was nice. It made me laugh.
-But anger's important. We need it.
-Which will help us in Germany.
-Marry us and have our children.
Brad Silber at Life is reading it right now for serialisation rights.
-Harold McGraw himself is reading it this weekend.
-You're kidding me!
-It's just a formality.
-You have waited, Cliff.
You've watched, as less talented writers have bypassed you.
Justice at last!
They're going to push this one hard. They're going to bet the bank.
-Is that a promise?
-You can set your watch by it.
-I don't have a watch.
-Well, buy one. Trust me.
'You can afford it.'
Calls unreturned... They don't read you for six months...
They're indifferent! And overnight...
-Dick, can you hear me? Dick!
-Here, try these. They're bigger.
-(MUFFLED) They're fine.
We're doing a vacation, a gentlemen's celebration thing.
You got harpoons? The ones that shoot?
-Yeah, most of them shoot.
-Good. He looks like a sausage.
I'll take the whole outfit. Set me up an account. Monthly payments...
You are a brick, Robert! You played me like a harp.
Whitewalls, leather... Is this guy a salesman?
When my accountant comes by with the cheque, should he talk to you?
He should speak to me, yeah. The cheque. Y-Yeah.
Call the police! There's a beautiful woman in front of my house!
-I love you!
-What's the matter? You haven't seen a best-selling author before?
Yes! You didn't think I was going to do it, did you?
Stop, please. Look! They are taking the sofa.
-Oh, I loved that sofa.
How you doing? Ah, fuck the sofa.
-Close your eyes.
-Close them. Close them.
-Oh, Cliff! Cliff!
Perfect. You're a beautiful man.
-I am sure you would desert me.
-No. "Will" desert you.
-The tense is future active.
-Don't correct the grammar.
You are not this perfect person.
Honey, it's finished. I told you, it's finished.
It's finished, Pear.
-To my new car.
(LIVELY JAZZ MUSIC)
Andrea? Andrea! Hi! Isn't this amazing? Isn't this wild?
-Can I talk to you?
-Let's talk on Monday.
It's important. Look, 30,000 copies is not going to do it.
A short run like that sends out a message, and it's not a good one.
-We're not publishing the book.
-Exactly. With 30,000 copies,
it's like we're not really publishing...
Brad Silber hated it.
He called it "a third-rate Philip Roth knock-off".
He told Harold, and it was awful. It just rolled like a snowball.
I wanted to tell you on Monday. I'm sorry.
-Fine. We'll do The New Yorker.
-You're not listening.
McGraw Hill is not publishing your book. Book gone.
The bomb has dropped. It's... It's over.
But you said that this was a formality.
Well, apparently I was mistaken. Look, if you have other ideas,
my door is always open to you.
"The enemy...very deceitfully has taken advantage of the truce."
They are potatoes. All of them - potato people.
And you are brilliant, strong man
who will have all his dreams.
All of them.
(WAR REPORTAGE CONTINUES ON TV)
You know what I'm getting for dinner? Swordfish steak.
Sounds good! Sounds enticing. Oh, come on, Cliff.
-Forget it. Forget it.
All right, enough. Enough. I want to talk about my friend.
-Tell me about your children's book.
-Oh, Richard The Lionheart?
-It's going OK. I should be done by the end of the year.
It's a great subject. War, sodomy... The war part's great. Kids love war.
But what do you do with the sodomy? I want to be historically accurate...
And you'll make it so, because you are a superb researcher.
And a fine writer.
Bumped by this adolescent coffee boy!
My lit professor at Cornell compared me to Hemingway!
The middle of my life is at hand. I don't have a couch.
Think about this. Henry Miller was 38 years old, unpublished.
His wife left him for a lesbian.
You're kind to tell me that, Dick. You're a very good man.
-You're a good friend. Need a loan?
-No, no. I was kidding. Cliff...
-You got a pen?
-I was kidding.
-Your house is going into foreclosure!
-I'm post-dating it.
Stop being the hero. Go to bed.
I got it, I got it. Walk away. Go.
I got it. I got it.
-Go to bed.
(HUBBUB OF VOICES)
Everyone will be relocated to another hotel.
Excuse me. Can you...
Someone told me that Howard Hughes is moving into this hotel.
What is this? What's going on?
It's an executive decision to close the facility for the weekend, sir.
-You are being relocated.
Howard Hughes wants to the pool to himself, so he's kicking us out?
I don't know about that, sir.
(WHISPERS) It's a friendship between Tom Mix...
and Pancho Villa.
(CONTINUES TO WHISPER)
Mr Clifford? Andrea's running late.
She said we should go ahead and start the meeting without her.
Wait a minute. Er...
A meeting with you?
Oh, no... Er, excuse me!
-(KNOCKS) Excuse me. Hello. I'm sorry, everybody.
-I did tell him.
Cliff, I'm in the middle of a conference meeting.
Andrea, our personal history demands that I bring this to you first.
I'm working on the most important book of the 20th century.
It's unprecedented. I'm going to discuss it tomorrow.
I'm going to present the details tomorrow...
-At Nathan's Bowling Alley in Queens.
-Did I ever take you there before?
OK, I'm going.
You'd better be sure that I don't have anything.
Cos Simon & Schuster's coming.
"Of the century"? Couldn't you have just said "of the decade"?
-All right, all right.
-And why a bowling alley?
Make a contribution here. First thing that comes to your mind.
-A history of agriculture.
-That's a best-seller(!)
-Shedding new light on World War I.
-What's the new light?
-Write about Picasso.
-Everyone loves Picasso.
-History of the Vatican.
-Oh, I'm dying.
-Well, gimme a clue here.
I'm being self-destructive. I've got to call Barbara.
I'm burning bridges, Edith.
They never appreciated you there.
-I need lunch.
-I'm having a breakdown.
My gallery show is in three weeks.
I don't have time for the drama now, darling.
-No-one knows where he is. I show up. I've seen him!
I've seen the Snowman. I send him my de Hory book.
He reads it. It's a positive portrayal of a very complex man.
Oh, my God, I get a response! Correspondence, sparks fly.
We become best of friends. What do you think?
-What is it? What's the book?
Where's Simon & Schuster, Tolstoy?
This is the key to it. A strong, continuous line.
Keep the pen on the paper... like that.
'All these articles say the same thing.'
Hughes runs a billion-dollar network of companies,
but he only communicates by handwritten memos.
There's no direct contact. That's why it's going to work.
Tell me my dick grew five inches last night. I'll still use a ruler.
No, I had an address from a friend of a friend, so I sent...
Howard Hughes?! Howard Hughes, the billionaire?
His exclusive, authorised autobiography.
He wants Cliff to write it with him, and they want us to publish it.
Handwriting analysis? Can we bring it over right now?
"It would not suit me to die without having stated the truth
-"about my life."
"I therefore authorise Clifford Irving
"to act as intermediary as to any arrangements
"regarding the publishing of my memoir."
"It would not suit me to die
"without having certain misconceptions cleared up
"and without having stated the truth about my life."
-taking you at your word...
..how does Mr Hughes propose we proceed?
(LAUGHS) This is all very strange.
I'm just getting the lay of the land here myself.
But what...what I can gather so far
is that he refuses to go outdoors.
He will only initiate, never accept, phone calls.
(PHONE RINGS) Those two rumours seem to be true.
But he did say he would provide handwritten contracts
for legal purposes, and, er, whatever questions you...
If you give them to me, I'll pass them on when he makes contact.
Beyond that, I don't know what to say.
(SIGHS THOUGHTFULLY) Why you, Cliff?
He could have any writer in the world do this for him.
I have absolutely no idea.
This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me. Best guess?
He likes me.
So, matching against the reprinted letters from Newsweek Magazine,
Osborn Associates' preliminary opinion
is that the handwriting samples are genuine.
-Excuse me one second.
(ALL CONFER IN WHISPERS)
Did you and...Howard discuss how much you both wanted?
Because we would like to make you an offer...today.
We did, Andrea. We did.
We... We...we did discuss that.
-Can I weigh in here?
-No. A man walks in.
He says something completely implausible.
For that exact reason, he's believed.
It's an Aquarian phenomenon. Very, very spiritual.
Lawyers are not spiritual! Presumably this is going to make news.
Howard Hughes hasn't spoken to the press in 15 years.
What are you so nervous about? You can't think. No thinking.
Once this gets out, this guy could sue our asses off.
Three words. "TWA shareholder lawsuit."
Howard has a judgement of 137 million bucks waiting to hit him
if he walks into any courtroom, so the book comes out,
-it doesn't matter. He can't sue.
-He can still say it's a fake.
He doesn't say anything about anything.
He uses ripped-up Kleenex boxes for slippers. He drinks his own piss.
-Have you heard of Intertel?
He has his own private CIA. Ruthless advisors!
His advisors don't know about the book
because he's too paranoid to tell 'em. He'll never come out of hiding
long enough to denounce me because... he's a lunatic hermit.
And I am the spokesperson for the lunatic hermit,
so the more outrageous I sound, the more convincing I am.
Can you believe this? The perfection!
-(They offered half a million.)
-(Half a million dollars?)
-400 grand for Howard, and 100 grand for us.
-I thought you meant half a million for us.
-It's all for us!
There is no Howard Hughes! Dick, are you paying attention to me?
-The problem is this.
It's an oral agreement. The lawyers are going to jump all over this.
So we have to leave right now, to become experts on this man's life!
-And if we find dirt, and it rings true,
the top guys will shove this deal right down the lawyers' throats.
No visits with special friends, right?
I'm not going to do anything to jeopardise what we've rebuilt.
-You just said to warn you when you get excited.
-You seem excited.
I love you.
(MUSIC OVER SPEECH)
(Hughes's testimony at the Senate Committee hearings in 1947.)
It's got his speech patterns, his syntax... It's perfect.
Take a picture.
You can't photograph a government document! It's a felony!
-You going to memorise it? Take a picture!
-I'm a researcher.
-I'm not a jewel thief.
-You own 25% of this book.
You want it to be good? You take a picture.
You know, I've always had a dangerous side.
Barbara's often remarked on it. But to take down the Library of Congress...
-God, the adrenaline!
-You took a nice picture of your leg.
-Or is that your ankle?
-Right there. Right there.
-It's my ankle.
-It's all out of focus anyway.
-Want another drink?
-Yeah. Me, too.
Harold, this book will sell more copies than the Bible.
Our competitors will kill to get it, and if they can't get it,
they will do anything they can to destroy it.
I say we sign this contract immediately,
-and institute total secrecy.
Not even wives can know.
From now on, we refer to Hughes... as Octavio.
The book is called Project Octavio.
-Get Ralph Graves on the phone.
-That's the code name.
I want our journalist friends in on this before I sign this paper.
Look at all the security personnel. This is a secure facility.
We need the information in portable form.
Just look comfortable, buoyant. Hell, they could let anybody in here!
-But what if I'm a Russian?
-Be a buoyant Russian!
Records? What for?
You don't know what's going on with your own company?
(LAUGHS) Well, to be honest with you, sergeant, no, we don't.
Mr Hughes doesn't like to share information.
-That's very frustrating for us.
-You want frustration?
Call Hughes Aircraft to find out when your plane's going to be ready.
I've seen decorated individuals sobbing like six-year-old girls
after dealing with you people.
Could my associate use your facilities, sergeant? Could he?
-To your left.
-I'll level with you.
We've had some problems, stories about delays.
Well, I can't get anybody on the phone. It's frustrating.
-If you can go into more detail...
-I've been on the phone
three times to a girl who doesn't know what she's talking about
-and can't tell me about my planes.
-Which office? May I write this down?
-This was complaints, or acquisition?
Acquisitions, as far as I know.
My people been dealing with her, or somebody down there,
-for three months!
-This is an outrage.
That the military should be treated that way...
Oh, I'm not doing it.
-You all right?
-Yeah, yeah. Keep moving. Keep moving.
-It's just a palpitation.
-Yeah, it's OK.
-Just a little bit more. Keep moving.
Are you all right?
Breathe. You're fine. You're fine. Fight or flight.
It's an animal thing, like you're being chased by a cheetah.
-I'll be fine.
-Yeah, I'm good.
Look. Noah Dietrich, on the right.
Hughes's right-hand man for 30 years. Retired to Vegas.
-The other guy I don't know.
My guess is, this guy Dietrich's going to be really cagey.
Information, Las Vegas, Nevada, please.
"Sorry to bother you at home. My name is Clifford Irving.
"I'm writing a book about the history of aviation.
"I'd be grateful if you'd share your expertise with me."
"Oh, great! Come on over."
You like geranium tea? Huh? It helps your bowels.
Follow me. Watch your step.
-Hey...you're a writer!
-Yes, I am.
I should show you something.
This is an account of my years at Toolco.
You know Toolco? Howard Hughes's company.
Has, er...has anyone seen this?
Nobody's seen it. It's sensitive.
I'll come right to the point.
I'll give you 500 to clean up the grammar,
-cos I'm bad with spelling.
-Yeah. Well, er...I have to read it first.
-When can I get it back to you?
-Oh, I can't let it out of the house.
Why don't you read it right now, sitting here?
(CHUCKLES) Right here?
-Take your time. See you later.
-(BOTH WHISPER EXCITEDLY)
-Do you know what this means?
It's gold! This is... (SPLASHING)
You got to get it out of the house.
Copy... I need a copy of it... Get up. Stand in front of me.
-It's great in the water!
-What's he doing?
-Tell me if he gets out. Grab it.
Tell him to come in. The water's beautiful!
Now copy that and get back here, right away!
Sit down, sit down. Thank you.
All right? Ready?
All right, I'm done!
Sir, honesty is my policy. This is atrocious. It's not publishable -
its run-on sentences, its mangled verbiage...
I'm very sorry, but you benefit and I benefit from honesty.
This is badly-spelled gossip from someone absolutely in the know.
It's perfect, Cliff! Perfect. Oh, my...
You know what? We should give Andrea some good news.
This is amazing. Everybody hates Howard Hughes.
They call him cheap, everything else...
But they're in his thrall. They can't stop talking about him.
He's Howard Hughes. Who the fuck are they?
"He rarely took vacations, but when he did,
"he booked a remote hotel in the mountains
"called the Salina Cruz."
-I'm going out for a walk.
-I'll be back soon.
What is it?
You told me not to call you ever again, so I didn't.
I say a lot of stupid things, you know?
It was funny, seeing you the other night.
I would've given...anything...
to get this call a year ago.
-"It's too late. I, er..."
-You ran out of time.
-"Wait. I need to see you."
Listen to this. This is from the Dietrich manuscript.
There's a full transcription of a conversation between Howard Hughes
and Frank McCullough from Time magazine.
They mention Intertel, the Mormon guy, George Gordon Holmes...
-Listen to me.
-Nina called from New York last night.
-Oh. Here we go.
Dick, it took me a year to make things right with Edith.
-Keep an eye on me, will you?
-It's my second profession.
I've been talking to Barbara,
and she's found some kind of publishing contract,
and I was wondering if maybe we could talk about...
some kind of credit deal,
or just some more money for me.
You're not happy with what we talked about?
No, it's not that. It's just that I sort of feel that...
(PHONE RINGS) No, don't...!
Hello, darling. We have a problem.
-It's just me. She only knows about me.
-Who is this?
-You can't say your name!
-This is Dick.
-Er, Dick Suskind.
-Dick, how do you know my name?
-Don't tell her!
Er... Cliff mentioned you.
What are you doing out there with Clifford?
-I'm the, er...
-(The travel coordinator!)
-I'm the co-author
-of Project Octavio.
-Is... Is Cliff there?
-Put him on the phone, please.
-I didn't know what to say!
-You were talking, she was talking...
-I know what you're doing.
-I know what you're doing. Hi, Andrea.
-Who the hell was that, Clifford?
That is, er... my associate.
I was intending to talk to you about him.
He's working with me on this.
All right. You need to be in New York at 9:00am on Monday.
You have a meeting with Ralph Graves.
-He's the editor of Life magazine.
-Yeah! I know who he is.
You need to go over all your contacts with Octavio.
Life knows a lot about him, so get your memory clear and be specific.
"I don't want to lose the deal over their knee-jerk suspicions."
What do you mean, lose the deal? What suspicions?
Just tell them the truth.
He gave me a prune.
He gave me a prune.
Visualise the Mediterranean or something.
-You're sweating like an animal.
-It's nervy of these publishers
-to put us through this inquisition.
-Well, you can't sit it out now!
You're a co-author.
History... Quite a responsibility.
The second analysis told us your letters from Mr Hughes
-are, er... authentic.
No surprise there. Experts want to provide their employers with...
-He gave me a prune.
He... It was in a bag. He gave me a prune. Howard Hughes!
Dick is jumping forward a bit. It was a memorable moment for him.
-No-one... No-one really likes to be accused.
I really don't think anyone's making accusations.
Are we going to stand around looking at photos? We're here about Hughes.
He gave me a prune. He gave me a prune on the beach at Nassau.
I thought you met Hughes the first time in Mexico.
Ralph, what happened was this. I got a phone call,
really out of the blue, from a man named George Gordon Holmes,
long-time associate of Howard Hughes.
He says he wants us to fly down to Mexico City, wait for a call.
So we go ahead and do this. We fly down there,
we check into this fleabag hotel...
18 hours we wait. No air-conditioning,
sand-crabs in the bathtub. I say, "The hell with him,"...
when we spot an envelope, shoved under the door.
'.."he usually booked into a remote hotel"...'
It says, "There's a pilot waiting to take you to Juchitan."
'So at 6:00am, we're flying low over the mountains.'
'And I'm nervous, but he's got touch, this bush pilot.'
He brings it right down onto a grey pebble landing strip.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a jeep coming down from the mountains.
-Yes, that's right.
-Who is this?
-Dick Suskind, sir.
He's a little surprised to see Dick, but I explained
that Dick was my researcher, and I couldn't do without him.
We get in the jeep, and he takes us on this endless ride
up through the mountains. We circled round the top of this hill,
and we got to this hotel, which was called, er...
'Holmes motions for us to follow.'
'And there's a room, way in the back, like a hut.'
'Doesn't even have a view of the ocean.'
'We can barely see.'
'And there's a little slip of a man on a bed,
..sitting like a monk.'
Howard Hughes is sitting right there.
(CHUCKLES) My heart...
It just went...
And then he was reaching out through the mosquito netting...
..and he offered Dick a...
'Dick takes the prune...
..eats the prune...'
He started talking about the value of Mexican soil, organic farming,
organic food... The two of them started jabbering like old friends.
We talked a little bit about business, and Dick and I went home.
-I'm a little hungry.
Ralph, pick something fabulous.
I think... the Latour, please. '61.
-(ALL MUTTER APPROVINGLY)
-And some beluga, shall we, gentlemen?
You know, Howard Hughes doesn't like caviar.
-Really. In fact, he made a special point of saying so.
I remember that. I... It was such a non sequitur.
It was just after Clifford finished talking about the, er...
The crash. You know, in Beverly Hills.
His plane hit the top of that house. He parked it on top of the house.
-He hurt his back, but he walked away.
-And he said, er,
people in Beverly Hills eat caviar. He doesn't like it.
And then he crashed his plane.
OK. Then, let's make it two beluga appetisers, please.
-Er, three. Yeah. Make it three.
-Andrea? Yeah? Good.
Did you get any sense of his business acumen?
-Well, it's interesting.
It's very interesting.
He said that people often think of business as business,
which, of course, it is, but in business there is also pleasure.
Pleasure can be a business. Business has pleasure. It's both
at the same time. I didn't really understand it,
but after a while it sunk in, and I realised...
that's his genius!
This is your cheque for writing services.
The second cheque, for Mr Hughes... or Octavio, sorry...
is going to take a little longer to process.
I understand you're authorised to receive Mr Hughes' payment.
Yeah, I am. Don't take too long, all right?
Life magazine is prepared to offer 250,000
for worldwide exclusive rights to serialise the Howard Hughes story.
That's a record, Harold.
I'm wondering if it's enough of a record, Ralph.
-The money makes this real!
-You can still back out, but you got to tell me now.
-No! We're the goddamn musketeers!
Good. Don't spend any money, though! Better we keep it in case we need it.
"The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the TWA shareholders' case
"against reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.
"A loss could cost Hughes 137 million,
"and devastate his financial empire.
"The Nixon justice department has..."
We go for texture, gritty details. We need blood, money...
juice, Shakespearean, big stuff. You want to critique a sitting president
who's also a war criminal? You can. You can impact culture with this.
I want to make some money and not get caught. It has to be plausible.
Dick, I handed them three yellow letters.
They gave me 500 grand. Is that plausible?
I don't think so. (LAUGHS)
You want to get a drink? I'm going to change my shirt.
I'll be right out.
-I'm heading home.
-I got it. I'm sitting for a while.
See ya, Tom.
-Tommy, can I use your phone?
-Sure. Go right ahead.
I saw Elmyr a few months ago in Ibiza.
-So, how is our old friend Elmyr?
-I was having dinner with friends,
and he was at the bar, sitting all alone, drinking.
He came up to me and said, "I always found your affair with Clifford
"to be common and immoral." And he stormed out.
-Elmyr didn't say that.
-Oh, I'm the liar?!
Who's writing a fake book about the most famous man in the world?
-Got to get back.
No. The clock is broken. You stay.
OK, just to confirm... you're still rich
-and you're still not going to leave him.
-Oh, I want to, Cliff. I want to.
But, no, I'm not going to.
I'm shallow, Cliff.
My greatest desire is to be an American movie star.
-How shallow is that?
-It's pretty shallow.
Why does it bother you so much that I'm your mistress?
-Brecht, Hemingway, they all had mistresses.
-gives me a headache.
-Oh, I forgot.
You're a devoted husband. I think I forgot while you were screwing me.
Sorry. I know I shouldn't have called you.
I'm not going to go through this again.
I can't do it to her. I can't.
I'll see you next time?
-"Oh, Dick, Nina..."
"There's no future with her. She weakens me."
-Thank you so much.
-"Edith is stability. She's my rock."
-Gimme a break, will you, please?
-Did you tell Nina about the book?
Are you out of your fuckin' mind?
I got the "I'm an asshole" part down pretty good.
It's the "what do I do" part I need help with. Be my friend!
-Are you my friend?
-Yeah, I'm your friend.
I don't know what I want to do if asks me where I went.
She'll leave me. For good.
It's the best I got. What else can I tell you?
You want to hear this?
-This is the Senate hearings, 1947.
'I'm not even sure if that's a correct statement,
'but the fact remains that if I made 15 million,
'I made it selling oil-well tools and beer,
'beer, to people down in Texas...'
-(IMITATES HIM) Beer, down in Texas!
'..and I don't think the public should be led to believe...'
Led to believe!
-'..wartime threats, when I did not. Furthermore...'
-'..a little money somewhere...'
(IMITATES HIM WELL) A little pocket change of 5 billion,
-in my pocket!
'Mr Hughes, where would you like to begin?'
Family, friends, father... Yeah. Father. Father.
(IMITATING HUGHES) Er...
..people called my father... Big Howard.
Big Howard... Big Howard made his money...
leasing drilling bits in the oil business.
He said to me... He said, "Sonny"...
"Sonny, these drill bits are your bread and butter!"
"Don't ever let 'em go!"
Big Howard died when I was, er...
when I was 18.
His bunch of Texas roughneck friends tried to sell his company.
Pushed me out of the picture. I don't like being pushed!
Now, when two parties negotiate,
you got a lion and a donkey.
One party, through bluster or leverage,
claims control of the situation right away. That's the lion.
At 18, I sued these men trying to sell my father's company.
I sued them, I attacked them, I blackmailed them.
I pushed every which way I could!
I learned to be a lion.
-Read the women's rags lately?
Excerpts from Howard Hughes's autobiography
in the Ladies' Home Journal, from the book by Robert Eaton!
Life's lawyers are gnawing the flesh from my bones.
-Tell me what the fuck is going on!
-I don't know anything about this.
This Eaton supposedly has the same hand-written memos that you've got.
So either you're selling this twice, using Eaton as a pen name...
I won't dignify that with a response.
Or, more likely, your demigod lunatic friend is using two writers.
You get it? All the sharks at my company have is you.
Which means they will sue your skinny ass
for every cent of the advance, plus damages,
-for making false representations...
-I made no false representations!
You said you could deliver!
-So she said that they would sue us both?
-Both? She mentioned me by name?
-I can't believe the sonofabitch had the same idea.
-I spent the money.
I told you we might have to give it back! Jeez, Dick!
It wasn't a huge percentage to begin with. Just pay the money,
tell them that Hughes has changed his mind,
-and I'll owe you the difference.
-Can't. I'm down most of it myself.
Well, borrow it. This isn't a prank any more, Cliff.
If we go to the press with this, we'll have Howard Hughes chasing us.
And Intertel! They'll stab us with sodium pentothal!
They'll kill us, or - or - or tie us up or something.
Howard won't be coming after us. His advisors, maybe, but he won't.
-Oh, really? What, he tell you that over breakfast?
What if this other book's the real thing? Have you thought about that?
What would Howard do in a situation like this?
I dunno. Buy a fucking airline.
Diversion. End run. Surprise.
Well, who are you now? General Patton?
"Viruses and bacteria are the most powerful enemies"...
-Luce, Luce, Luce...
-.."the human body has got."
-Luce... Henry Luce!
Dick, I think you should take a little holiday.
You got everything? Your passport, the letter?
You're going to be fine. Bye.
# Only you know and I know
# All the love that we've got to show
# So don't refuse to believe it...
-# By reading too many meanings
# Cos you know
# That I mean what I say
# So don't go
# And ever take me the wrong way
# You know you can't go on getting your own way
# Cos if you do it's going to get you some day
-'Hello. This is Andrea.'
'It's Cliff. Shelton Fisher needs to be at the meeting.'
-'Do you know who he is?'
-'Chairman of McGraw Hill.'
'And he has to be at the meeting. It's not me! It's him.'
'No negotiation. No Fisher, no meeting.'
Mr Irving, it would appear that either you
or your illustrious sponsor is jerking someone's chain.
I assure you, that chain will not be connected to Life Magazine.
So, why don't you begin by telling us who Robert Eaton is
and why he's selling the book you're supposed to be writing.
Shelton, have you received your mail today?
Ralph, I was talking to Shelton.
As a side comment, watch your tone with me.
I've been up for two nights negotiating with a very stubborn
billionaire and my quota for verbal abuse has been reached.
Could you get the mail, please?
Life Magazine has been known to have
a slight impact on writers' careers, my friend,
and we... we are not afraid of civil litigation.
There's the tone. Right there, you got that? Watch it.
Shelton, while you're reading this, assuming Howard wrote what he told me
he was going to write, I will give a summary to the group.
Howard doesn't know who Eaton is. The book is a fake.
But that doesn't really matter now because he found out that McGraw-Hill
sold the serialisation rights to Life Magazine, without his authorisation,
he became... what's the word? Apoplectic.
You got a problem, Ralph.
Your magazine is owned by Henry Luce.
What's the matter with Henry Luce?
According to Howard?
Well, Luce is in bed with Trippe,
at Pan Am, he's a goddamn socialist and he's a lousy golfer.
It's just... It's a rant.
It's basically a three-page rant about what a bastard Luce is.
That's Howard's words, it's not mine. I don't have a problem with Luce.
The postmark is Nassau.
That is completely irrelevant. And we are talking about
a business agreement that will hold up in a court of law.
We... We had a business agreement. Not any more.
I pleaded with him... to reconsider, but I was unsuccessful, so...
..per Howard's instructions...
this 100,000 advance cheque to you.
You can chase it in court. Meanwhile, we'll look for another publisher.
Wait, no. Clifford, er, Mr Irving,
we have a contract with you,
which means that our company owns the property.
Wrong. Through all of my pleading, hours of it, believe me,
it could be yours, Shelton, it could. You could make a public announcement
within the week and he's all right with Ralph still being involved with this,
provided... you increase his advance to one million dollars.
And not a penny less. (ALL GASP)
-A million dollars?
-(LAUGHS) A million dollars?
-I think we should try
-to maintain an atmosphere of goodwill and trust here.
-The man's a Texan copperhead. Trust.
-Right. Thank you.
-Where are you going?
Where are you going? Wait! Let me tell you something. The book's mine.
Signed and sealed. And I'm not paying any goddamn million dollars.
You understand that? You listen to me, Mr Clifford fucking Irving,
-you go and tell -
-I'm not Clifford Irving. I'm Howard Hughes!
Howard's mouth, Howard's words!
One million dollars or we walk across the street to Doubleday, your choice.
Shelton, I just want to share this with you, one of Howard's
alternate ideas. He said,
"Why don't I just buy a controlling interest in McGraw-Hill?"
What was it he said? "I'll just keep the printing presses
and get rid of the idiots." That's an exact quote.
# "Up Around The Bend" - Creedence Clearwater Revival
-That's it. Thank you.
# There's a place up ahead and I'm going
# Just as fast as my feet can fly #
-Why are the boys so glum?
-In the midst of our brilliant scheme,
we forgot to figure out how to cash a cheque made out to Howard Hughes.
Open up a Swiss account,
-in his name, for yourself.
-We were going to do that,
and then we found out that you need Social Security numbers
and it's traceable, even in Switzerland.
We've gone over everything.
What if a woman deposits the cheque?
No, the same person who opens the account has to be the same person
who cashes the cheque. Has to be a man.
Tell his publisher he changed his mind.
He wants the cheques written to his initials now.
H R Hughes.
Then... a fake passport, a fake name.
Harriet Rhonda Hughes. Helga Rhinoceros Hughes.
-And I can cash the cheque.
-No, you're not going to Switzerland.
-Jesus, that's a great idea.
-That's going to work.
-She's my wife.
I know. I've reminded you of that fact from time to time.
when he doesn't call, stuff like that.
-We've talked about it already.
-It's just about anonymity.
-That's all. Great. Which one's mine.
-No, that's the old...
-Are you going to destroy this? OK.
-There you go, OK?
It's going to take at least a week for the cheque to clear
so you're going to have plenty of time to enjoy Zurich.
"McGraw-Hill book company and Life Magazine announced publication..."
"..claims that he interviewed Hughes on many occasions."
"..urging buyers to place an order now for what may prove to be
"the most controversial book of the century."
I have phone calls, telegrams, I have cease and desist orders,
'Miss Tate. Am I going to pay this man a million dollars,'
for a book that he is going to sue me for publishing?
My back is broken. What did you order?
If you were concerned, maybe you could ask Howard
'to stop the more adamant denials.'
"Amidst controversy, McGraw-Hill
"to publish Hughes autobiography."
"Hughes' lawyer calls book complete fabrication."
-That's it, we're liars.
A month ago, you wanted more credit!
Hughes' people, they're all ex CIA, you know that?
They're all trained in martial arts.
Good! I hope they drop kick some sense into you. Shit!
-What is that?
-It's over with her?! Over with her?!
I don't know what this is! Edith, Edith, she did this deliberately.
Maliciously, because I cut off communication with her.
-She wanted to separate us.
-Did you see her?
-(CAR HORN TOOTS)
-I don't want to know.
I don't want to know.
I don't want you to go to Switzerland.
-It might be dangerous. I don't care about the money!
You care only about the money. Oh, and being a famous man.
Anyway, fuck you, it's my money too.
Oh, my God.
-Dick, we got it, we got it.
-You won't believe this.
OK, listen. Rebozo.
"Rebozo accepted 100,000 in cash
"to redecorate Nixon's home."
"The acceptance was understood to mean that a TWA appeal
"and the Air West matter would be of highest priority."
Also, 1956, Hughes gave Nixon's brother 205,000
to secure Pentagon contracts.
This... This is money laundering, it's bribery! It's the end!
This is... We publish this...
..Nixon... Nixon, the President,
is impeached. Do you understand the power this gives us?
-Cliff, I'm not sure I want the power this gives us.
-Well, I do.
You publish this, you will have a storm of shit rained down on you.
And there are people now, God knows who,
Nixon's political enemies, Hughes' advisors,
-they know where you live!
-I say you forget you ever saw this.
This is like a Torah! Sent down from God!
Make us part of history! And you want to forget it?
Come here, let me show you something. Postmarked Nevada, Hughes' country.
-What are you saying?
-He wants us to help him bust Nixon.
He's with us, Dick! Howard is with us!
How did you know the Dillon Read Hydraulic Systems were faulty?
(IMITATES HUGHES) You're not listening, Clifford, goddamn it!
I made sure they were faulty through a couple of well-placed bribes.
Why not go to Defence with the information and get the contract?
Well, I couldn't have handled the contracts then.
Instead of tattling on them, I... fixed their planes.
I... intertwined our technologies,
I ate that company from within.
And they let me, because they were hypnotised.
That's the way, Clifford. When your rival is powerful,
find an opportunity, create a crisis for him.
But instead of taking short-term advantage,
save the day for him.
Nothing confuses a man more
than a kind gesture from his enemy.
Nothing renders him... more vulnerable.
(PHONE RINGS) It's Edith. Turn it off, turn it off.
"I made sure they were faulty..."
It was Andrea! We got a problem.
Keep it down, guys, you're going to wake the neighbours(!)
Clifford, I don't believe you've met Frank McCullough.
-No, hi, Frank.
-How are you?
-Dick Suskind. Dick?
Er, I got a phone call yesterday, from Chester Davis,
-whose Hughes' personal attorney.
Er, apparently, at 1pm, our time, Howard Hughes is going to call,
to speak to an intermediary by telephone.
And, as the...last journalist to have spoken to Mr Hughes,
we mutually agreed that Mr McCullough should receive the call,
because of his ability to identify Mr Hughes by voice.
Mr McCullough has also assured us, at least for the moment,
that all of this will remain off the record.
Mr Davis also insisted that Ralph Graves be present at the time of the phone call,
which, I have to say, Cliff, that one surprised me.
Given Hughes' representations of Life
in your alleged communications with him.
Er, if you'll excuse me.
I have to go to the bathroom.
Shelton, this... (LAUGHS) What am I supposed to say?
This is an ambush! You know exactly what the guy's going to say.
That's why Mr McCullough's here, to identify the voice
-of the man in question.
-I'm neutral here, Mr Irving.
So...now we wait.
I can't watch this charade.
You'll find me in the lobby.
-Stay close, Clifford.
-It says exit, there's no exit.
-Shit! (ALARM SOUNDS)
-We can't get out.
-Howard Hughes? My God!
All right, we have no reason to believe that that was him.
McCullough hasn't heard from him, hasn't spoken to him in 12 years!
-There's an angry billionaire, he's chasing me.
-Walk. We're going up here.
Keep going, come on. Come on.
Cliff, I can't. I gotta take a piss.
I'll confess, I'll do anything they want. Just let me use the bathroom.
OK, right here, right here. Hide in there.
Watch your head. Hide.
-You gotta piss your pants, go ahead. Just stay there.
I'll be back.
We don't know yet. McCullough asked us to leave the room.
The man I just spoke to was Howard Hughes. His speech patterns
and inflections would be impossible to imitate.
And he told me that he's never met you.
And that your book is a fraud.
-Now, knowing Howard, I don't find this to be conclusive,
at all. He is a very strange man.
Um... but, considering the scarcity of proof that you've provided,
my best guess, at this moment,
is that you are a charlatan.
If there is even a whiff of impropriety to this,
if you have exaggerated or changed even the slightest detail,
I will prosecute you to the full extent of the law for grand larceny
and mail fraud, unless you tell me just what the bald fuck is going on.
I have... (COUGHS)
'I have betrayed... your trust.'
'The book, the entire story is false.'
'I've... lied to the entire world.'
'And, no matter what happens now,
'I am so...
off-the-record material on that two-faced prick
that puts him in fucking jail! I'm going to tell Howard,
either he shows his ant-bitten face...
or I release it!
I've had it!
You have three days to produce Howard Hughes and the manuscript!
Grand larceny, Cliff? Mail fraud.
Jesus, you know what? This is just too much, too much.
-I've got a move, there is a move here.
-Move, move. Stop the car.
-I've gotta make a call.
-What are you doing?
-What am I doing?
I'm calling Barbara, that's what I'm doing.
Hi, it's me.
It's over, Cliff, I can't go to jail.
And, with you or without you, I'm going to tell them tomorrow
that Howard Hughes called and he pulled out of the deal.
You can pay them back the money. I talked to Barbara,
-she had very strong feelings about this.
-Sure she did.
You're an honourable man, Dick.
Aren't you? Are you an honourable man?
Did you make a commitment to me, Dick?
-Did you say you were in this till the end?
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Reaching a worldwide audience, taking down a corrupt president,
that's the end! Not this!
-It's finished, Cliff, it's finished.
-Sorry I disappointed you.
Helga Hughes, Helga R Hughes.
-No, I encourage people to read. That way, they read my books
and I sell books and make money.
That's why I love it when people say, "I'm a reader."
-I say, "Good for you and good for me."
-Hey, we gotta go.
-No, I don't want to go.
-Yes, you do. (ALL TALK AT ONCE) We gotta go.
-Ladies, I know, I know. Gotta get you home.
-Have a drink, have a drink.
-No, you can't jazz them up. You have to be a star.
I need to find...
a great book, the one book...
-Tommy, two, two more doubles.
His two main pre-occupations, am I right,
were war and sodomy.
Now, this is my problem.
-It's a hazardous business, sodomy.
-That's what we hear.
(LAUGHS) It's what you hear.
"That's the way, when your rival is powerful."
"Find an opportunity, create a... a crisis for him."
"But, instead of taking short-term advantage..."
..save the day for him. (HORN TOOTS)
What happened last night?
I smell like...
Oh, God, no, please.
Oh, I didn't.
I didn't, no, I didn't.
It's all right.
Dick, listen to me.
It was a mistake.
-She's wanted security for a long time, hasn't she?
You can give her that now.
I promise you, we will make this work.
We'll make this work.
"I intertwined our technologies,
"I ate that company..."
"..from within. And they let me
"cos they were hypnotised."
"The mayor of New York planned his parade through his voting..."
"..was a thieving, lying jackal."
"I flew around the world in 1938 for the only decent reason
"a young man does anything, because he feels like it."
They set a meeting, Mr Octavio, and he's going to show up here!
This is perhaps the most...bizarre communique I have ever received.
And I need your help in implementing its requirements.
At 1pm tomorrow, the top four floors of this building
are to be evacuated. All the carpeting on the 14th floor
is to be removed. Floors are to be washed and waxed.
All the materials are to be covered with black material,
the kind which does not accumulate dust.
-Does that apply to my windows also, Mr Irving?
-Er, yeah. I'd go ahead
and cover them up, Harold, I think it's the best thing. Play it safe.
This is sensitive material.
I'm still deciding whether or not to put this in the book.
-I think you should put it somewhere safe.
All right, then.
Here's our manuscript.
-Hope you like it.
-Hope to God I do too.
All right, I'll bring down Howard as soon as he gets here.
All right, check this! Check the western... Make sure
-the diameter's exactly right.
-Yeah, don't worry about me.
-You're doing good.
-Yes, on the spot.
-We might not want to let this fly off the building.
-Give me that.
-You copied this by hand?
-From the original?
No! I'm fully aware of the restrictions, Cliff.
-I did it by hand.
-Why do I always want to strangle Brad?
Is that... Is that him?
-(CHOPPER BLADES WHIRR) That's him!
-Oh, my God!
-Clear the roof!
-Get your things. Go! Come on!
Where is he going?
-I don't know.
-Oh, no, this is not happening!
Shall we head back?
He was 50 feet from the fucking building!
-All right, my diagram is fine!
-Do you have the original?
It's not outside the scope of my capabilities, diagramming -
-We'll find out.
-I can do that.
-You switched east and west. Why?
-Why did you... Look!
-No, I wrote what was on the damn page.
He's an eccentric genius, he likes things the way he wants them.
Why did you change it? A three year old wouldn't have fucked that up.
-Pray that you die, you snivelling twat.
-I swear to Christ,
I wrote what was on this page. Exactly the same.
Your book is genuine. There's no way your material
could have come from anyone but Howard Hughes.
the idiosyncratic philosophies.
Hey, you have got a near-perfect account of a conversation I had
-with Howard that I didn't tell another living soul about.
-Typical Howard Hughes, write it and deny it.
-It was so... I was... Yeah.
He really put you on one hell of a limb, didn't he?
It wasn't easy, no, it wasn't, but I got a lot of help.
-It's a masterpiece.
-You liked it?
-I loved it.
-(ALL SHOUT AT ONCE)
-Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.
Hughes is threatening civil action.
Why is he fighting so hard if the book is authentic?!
I wouldn't be surprised if they've got surveillance devices
-all over my home, right now.
-"..the Clifford Irving book
"on Howard Hughes is apparently, of real concern..."
"If you ask my advice, the election of George Bush as United States
"Senator will be good for Texas, I know it will be good for America..."
"But in any event, he pulled out a bag, reached in
"and pulled out a prune. And he looked at it, offered it
"and said, 'Would you like a prune?'"
"And then took the prune,
"and said, 'It's an organic prune.'"
"When this book comes out, all the naysayers will be amazed
"at the wealth of depth and quality of the material..."
And you are so royally full of shit.
"I feel very humble, being a conduit
"for this kind of revelation."
"It's not just about this man, but about our age,
"who we are as people." (PHONE RINGS)
"I have the money, I am safe now."
-Edith, where are you?
-"I'm at the airport."
"Someone is watching me and following me and..."
(HELICOPTER BLADES WHIRR)
You know, Clifford, I have worked in various capacities for Mr Hughes
for 19 years, and never once have I referred to him by his first name.
You don't seem to abide such formalities.
-He and I wrote a book together.
-Assume for a moment that I know
you didn't, and that it's not the topic of the evening.
-The world Mr Hughes has created is vast, Clifford.
It covers many industries and many endeavours.
There are...fiefdoms and factions,
traitors and minor rebellions.
You see, Clifford, the men Mr Hughes uses as his instruments in the world
are often themselves the makers of history.
You mean Nixon.
Mr Hughes wants to know if you included the information sent to you
in the galleys of your book.
Howard wants to bury Nixon, doesn't he?
Because his dog isn't doing tricks any more. And TWA...
-and the Air West merger...
-I'm not arrogant enough to speculate
on Mr Hughes' motives, Clifford, we just want an answer to the question.
I'll just say this,
nothing stops this book from being published exactly the way I wrote it.
He wants my help... he has to speak to me directly.
Are you dictating terms to Howard Hughes?
-I'm the messenger for Howard Hughes.
-Why such a burning commitment
-to a man you don't know?
-Oh, but I do know him.
And I deserve to see him.
Presidents have said the same thing to me, Clifford...
I will tell you what I told them.
It's not a matter of getting through a door, Clifford,
there is no door to get through.
If, though, Clifford, if there were a door...
you would now be hearing the sound of it closing.
Mr Hughes wants that information in the book, Clifford.
I knew it.
So, I put the dirt in, Howard will let the book go forward, right?
That's the deal.
Do I have any assurances?
Take it on faith, Clifford.
It makes sense that he would choose Cliff and not someone like Mailer,
-then it would be Mailer's book.
There are claims, from some corners,
that Mr Irving has concocted this book from old cloth.
Well, for those of us who have read it, we know that
only a Shakespeare could have accomplished such a feat.
And, while Mr Irving is a fine man, he is no Shakespeare.
-Ladies and gentlemen,
Mr Clifford Irving.
Thank you. Thank you.
You could change the world with this, Harold! I want this in the book!
Cliff, we will be sued for libel by the President.
You'll win, you will win. (BEEPING)
-To put this out, unsubstantiated is,
-at best, unwise and, at worst, unethical.
Could you give me a moment, Cliff, please?
Ralph, if the President took cash bribes
-then we have every...
Harold, I'm sorry to interrupt but the Zurich District Attorney's
-office is on the line.
-Hang on, Ralph. Yes, this is Harold McGraw.
Who told you that?
Where did you hear that?
"The case involves a Swiss bank,
in Zurich, where the cheques were cashed by H R Hughes,
but H R Hughes was a mysterious lady named Helga R Hughes."
"The police are looking for her and the normally-silent
-"Swiss bankers are talking."
-Mr Irving, who cashed the cheques, sir?
"Who opened up the Swiss bank account?"
The account holder in Switzerland is a woman named Helga Hughes.
They suspect she forged the endorsements.
This has become sleazy and demeaning. I'm a publisher, Shelton.
You're an employee, Harold, I don't care what your name is.
We paid for a book and we're going to publish it.
Just...roll the goddamn presses.
I'm doing this, sir, because...
I felt the President deserved a warning.
No, of course not. Absolutely no-one.
You should receive it by messenger this afternoon.
# I'd like to teach the world to sing
# In perfect harmony
# Perfect harmony
# I'd like to buy the world a Coke
# And keep it company... # (DOOR SLAMS)
# That's the real thing... #
Thank God! Honey, are you all right?
Let me help you.
I am not staying!
-What's in the book?
Hughes' loans to the President, the real amounts of the loans.
The shit about Bebe in Florida.
And you're saying the President thinks this is authentic?
-How else could they know?
-I gotta talk to Fisher. He's gotta kill it.
-Hughes is using it to get to the Chief.
-The President's hit the roof.
Terrified the book's been leaked to the Democratic National Committee.
-He thinks they're sipping tea at the Watergate Hotel reading it.
I'll call Hans and have him send his guys in, see if the DNC has a copy.
And prepare something for the President if this breaks early.
-If he has to address the nation...
-To say what?
That Checkers had puppies. How the fuck should I know?
I was on the plane and I was thinking, for a long... time.
I was thinking about all of your lies from before.
I guess, maybe, I am not
beautiful or...very sexual.
-No, honey, no, no, it's not true.
-You have made me feel that.
And I'm giving back all of...
the money, all of the book money.
Look, you've worked so hard.
On us and the book.
-Punish me but don't punish yourself.
-You're always so careful
when you talk, always so...
..soft, like a cushion for what you want.
But I am leaving.
But before I go, I give you something.
You are exhausted from your lies.
So tell the truth.
Tell me the truth. About what you did with her.
It is your moment.
To be clean.
I saw her.
It was in town. Down in the village.
talking about the past and...
I was tempted.
I was tempted enough that I... I, er...
..I went with her...
back to her apartment.
And I kissed her.
..and then something happened and I...
..something physically, I just...recoiled
..I couldn't go through with it. I couldn't do it.
I, er, just left her standing there and...
I ran down the stairs.
I know you're making a really big decision right now, I understand.
I just want you to know that's the truth. That's the truth.
I hate you.
Yeah, I love you.
I hate you.
I think I'm coming down with something.
"Human relationships are impossible. Especially with females,
"Clifford, we try, of course,
"to police ourselves so that they might be... happy."
"Believing that their happiness might become our own."
We're intertwined now, son, and I'm glad.
It's for the best.
Why don't you ask your friend for another birthday present?
"2,400 of our boys..."
12 years, 12 years I've been doing free...free research for you.
I cover up all your sleazy affairs. Why? Because I thought it was
an investment, I thought there was someone in there. Jesus Christ!
You paid her.
You paid that hooker!
I could lose my wife, Cliff!
(SIGHS) Always the Cassandra, always bad news.
Cliff, I'm not like you, I confessed.
-You need your freedom, Dick.
-What's that? What is that, your opinion?
-You ruined my life because of your fucking opinion?!
-I wanted it
for you more than for me. The whole thing, I always did and we did it!
Damn it, we did it. Look at this, look at this.
Look at that.
-I don't care about that.
-It's yours, take it.
-I don't care about that!
-It's all yours. Take it, it's yours.
-What's going on here?
(Intertel, sons of bitches.)
(Motherfuckers broke into my house last night. They were here.)
They took me in a car and flew me to Nassau. And there, they...
they threatened me. They beat me up and chucked me out a window.
I said, no, this book goes for... (This book goes forward.)
Nothing was going to stop it. I was firm. Assurances were made. This...
-This Howard Hughes will not be interfered with!
-This Howard Hughes?
-This Howard Hughes...
-Cliff, Clifford Irving.
-Intertel kidnapped you and flew you to Nassau?
CIA, ex-CIA henchmen, martial arts, you were right!
-You were absolutely right!
-I was here last night, Cliff, I came for
lessons on how to lie to my wife. You being an expert in that field.
Jesus Christ, I was outside that fucking window. I saw you in here,
you were sitting on the floor, drunk outta your head.
You don't believe me.
You, of all people.
-Take your fucking money.
-Take your money!
-Take your fucking money! All the fucking percentage you get!
-Yeah, fuck you! Take your fucking money and get out of here!
Don't throw money at me!
You stay away from me, you fucker!
No-one flew you to Nassau, Cliff.
You're not that important.
One moment, please.
-Chester Davis, Howard Hughes' attorney on line one.
What time will it be on?
I can't thank you enough, Chester.
The President owes you one.
"Of course, I have massive files
"of photographs and other recorded material
"tracing my life from an early age."
"I have volumes and volumes and rooms full."
"Mr Hughes, did you co-operate, or do you know..."
-Thank you, thank you very much.
I want to know why the hell we weren't warned about this.
Why weren't we warned? Clara!
"I have volumes and volumes and rooms full."
"Mr Hughes, did you co-operate, or do you know,
"a man named Irving,
"who claims to have taped this biography with you?"
"Well, this must go down in history,
"I only wish I was still in the movie business
"because I don't remember any scripts as wild or stretching
"of the imagination as this guy has turned out to be."
"I take it, sir, you do not know a man named Clifford Irving then?"
"No, I never saw him. I never even heard of him until
"a matter of days ago when this thing first came to my attention."
"It is so fantastic and so utterly beyond
"the bounds of anyone's imagination."
"It seems to me, the motive for Irving could be money
"but McGraw-Hill and TimeLife
"don't have to deal in fake manuscripts."
"They surely have a business that operates at a higher plane."
"There's gotta be a bank record, somewhere,
"of this transaction, so I just don't have any idea."
-"There had been reports that you have had dealings..."
-He just lied.
"..Nixon's friend Bebe Rebozo
"and also dealings with the President himself."
-"Care to comment on those reports?"
"A warrant was issued today for the arrest of Irving's wife, Edith."
"She is charged with fraud and forgery."
"She deposited, in a Swiss bank, money intended for Howard Hughes..."
No! No! No! No!
No! No! No!
"Is it safe to say this was an intimate relationship?"
"Yes, the relationship was physical."
"And you can confirm that Mr Irving, in fact, did not meet with Mr Hughes
-"on the date in question?"
-"He could not have meet Howard Hughes
"in Nassau because he was with me at the Plaza Hotel."
"Did he confide in you regarding the book?"
"No, I knew nothing about it."
"I'm completely flabbergasted by all of this attention."
"What exactly do you do, Miss Van Pallandt?"
"I'm an actress."
"And a singer."
-"Lawyers for Hughes..."
It's always the details that undo us.
-Can I run something by you, George?
-that's what I'm here for.
-This was a really bad year for Howard, wasn't it?
The TWA thing, the Air West merger unravelling.
He lost control of... Nixon, his fixer, too, didn't he?
He needed something. He needed...
some leverage, keep him back in line.
"A loss could cost Hughes 137 million."
So one day, he opens his disinfected newspaper and there we are.
Us, with our little book.
When your rival is powerful... find an opportunity.
Create a...a crisis for him.
Hardly had to do anything, just... just a little push.
Then he fed us some dirt.
To get Nixon's attention, a little more dirt.
President thinks this is authentic?
Nixon gets hysterical, thinks the book is real.
Instead of taking short-term advantage,
save the day for them.
And then Howard makes it good for the President.
Cashes in his chit.
And we get buried.
"I take it, sir, you do not know a man named Clifford Irving then?"
"No, I never saw him, I never even heard of him until..."
I'm not angry, George... I'm disappointed.
You know, I thought that, maybe...
..I thought we were partners, Howard and I.
You must not take it personally, Clifford.
Just as...the trees must not take it personally
when a forest is razed for lumber.
They're part of a grand design.
I played it good for a while though, didn't I?
You were tremendous, Clifford. Mr Hughes commented on it.
-Would I lie to you?
Thank you. Thank you.
MUSIC: "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Rolling Stones
# I saw her today
# At the reception
# A glass of wine
# In her hand
# I knew she was going to meet
# Her connection
# At her feet
# Was a foot-loose man
# You can't always get what you want
# You can't always get what you want
# You can't always get what you want...
In exchange for leniency for Dick, especially for Edith.
# You get what you need!... #
"Mr Irving received a sentence of two and a half years in prison."
Mr Suskind, six months in prison.
In addition, they will pay full restitution to McGraw-Hill
and the Internal Revenue Service, totalling 1.3 million.
Mrs Irving received a suspended sentence but we have no control
-over what the Swiss authorities do.
-Are you happy with the outcome?
I'm not sure you're ever ecstatic when a bargain is reached.
"In a surprise reversal, the Nixon justice department
"approved the acquisition of Air West Airlines by Howard Hughes' Toolco."
"This on the heels of last week's Supreme Court decision to dismiss
"the TWA shareholder's lawsuit, rescuing Mr Hughes from paying
"£137 million, made it a very good week for the eccentric billionaire."
"Other news, five men were arrested
"breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters, located in the Watergate Hotel."
# Oh, baby, yeah
# I went down
# To the Chelsea drugstore
# To get your
# Prescription filled
# I was standing in line
# With Mr Jimmy
# And, man, did he look pretty ill
# I said to him
# You can't always get what you want
# You can't always get what you want
# You can't always get what you want
# No, but if you try sometimes
# You just might find
# You get what you need
# Oh, yes
# You get what you need... #
That's them. Don't choke on the dust.
# Oh, babe
# Oh, yeah
# I saw her today
# At the reception
# In her glass was a bleeding man
# She was practised
# At the art of deception
# Well, I could tell
# By her blood-stained hands
# You can't always get what you want
# You can't always get what you want
# You can't always get what you want
# But if you try some time
# You just might find You just might find
# You get what you need
# Oh, yeah... #
The true story of how novelist Clifford Irving successfully sold his entirely made-up biography of tycoon Howard Hughes for millions of dollars.
In truth not authorised at all, but containing facts Irving unscrupulously went to great lengths to acquire, it still goes to publication. Obsessed by the project, and Hughes, Irving has to bravely call everybody's bluff several times in order to reach his bounty - the cheque.