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“Catch Me If You Can” - The True Story of a Real Fake.

“Catch Me If You Can” is based on the true story of Frank W. Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio), a master con artist. Set in the 1960’s, FBI agent Carl Hanratti (Tom Hanks) tracks Abagnale over a number of years, unearthing multiple scams he pulled off. Abagnale wrote over $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in 26 countries, practiced law in Louisiana, flew Pan American airplanes and masqueraded as a doctor — all before he reached the legal drinking age.

Abagnale had no degrees or credentials; his “achievements” were due to his skillful and practiced life as an extraordinarily “good” con artist.

The film portrays a young man who is deeply affected by the divorce of his parents. Without doubt, Abagnale led an exciting life, yet one in which he was constantly on the run from the law.

As a child, he found that his knack at impersonation and improvising eased the transition to a new school. A target of other children because he wore a uniform, he struck back as only he knew how. The students were in for a surprise when the young Abagnale assumed the persona of a teacher, putting some of these students in their place.

From there it was on to impersonating airline pilots, a successful doctor, a lawyer, etc… He was extremely convincing. The whole time, though, the net of the FBI — or more specifically, Hanratti — was closing in on him.

The two-disk DVD set comes loaded with extra featurettes. My favorite is the documentary of “Frank Abagnale: Between Reality and Fiction.” This featurette presents the true Frank Abagnale (see the accompanying photo) commenting on the film and how he managed to do what he did.

While it may seem that Abagnale’s adventures as a con artist are the most exciting part of his life, Abagnale would disagree. Abagnale says he is much more excited that he has turned his life around, and can use his "experience" to help others from being conned.

The first documentary on the second disk is "Catch Me If You Can: Behind the Camera." This featurette provides an overview of how the film was made in 56 days — an impressive feat — especially since star DiCaprio had the flu the entire time. You can also watch another documentary on the casting for the film.

Another featurette, which I found enjoyable, is composer John Williams explaining how he made the score for the film. He explained how he was trying to go for the sound of the time, reaching back to the progressive jazz of the middle 20th Century. Williams said that the music is something that would make famed jazzman Charlie Parker proud.

All in all this is a great double disk DVD set to own, or at least check out from the video store. It is definitely one of my favorites.

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