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The Great Impostor

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The Great Impostor

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
Unrated
runtime:
113 minutes
performer:
Tony Curtis, Karl Malden
director:
Robert Mulligan
genre:
Drama, Comedy

We gave it a B

Wendell B. Harris’ inventive docudrama, Chameleon Street, about con man William Douglas Street, who illegally posed as a Time reporter and a surgeon, among other professionals, has a loose, home-movie, performance art quality ideally suited to video. And Harris’ performance as Street — arrogant, funny, sarcastic, charming — is a tour de force worthy of its mercurial subject. The Great Impostor, an earlier, more sanitized variation on the same theme, offers a fascinating comparison. It stars Tony Curtis as the real-life Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr., who impersonated a monk, a doctor, a teacher, and a penologist — and even faked his own suicide. Both of these movies’ subjects are brilliant, and neither is on friendly terms with reality. But as cautionary fables these tapes are almost too enjoyable. Chameleon Street: B+ The Great Impostor: B

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