Top 5 con men, as inspired by The Imposter

Top 5 con men, as inspired by The Imposter

Frederic Bourdain is not the first career trickster to make an impression on the big screen

Bart Layton's critically acclaimed documentary tells the story of Frederic Bourdain, a French conman who impersonated a missing Texan boy and succeeded in fooling everybody from the boy's family to the FBI. Here are five more cinematic tricksters who have made their mark on the big screen. WARNING: may contain spoilers.

The Third Man

(Carol Reed, 1949)
Anton Karas’ soundtrack is brilliant; Robert Krasker’s cinematography is gorgeous; but it’s Orson Welles’ extended cameo as the duplicitous Harry Lime that makes The Third Man a classic. Even Lime's much-lauded ‘cuckoo clock’ speech is riddled with half-truth and deception – the timepiece, held up as an example of Switzerland’s pacifistic achievements, was actually invented in Germany.

The Hustler

(Robert Rossen, 1961)
It was a close call between this and The Sting, but Paul Newman’s iconic performance as pool hustler ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson was the one that stood out for us. He may come a cropper of Jackie Gleason’s Minnesota Fats, and he even takes a back seat to Tom Cruise’s Vincent Lauria in the 1986 sequel, but we’re pretty sure Felson’s playing the long game, and plans to win it.

The Usual Suspects

(Bryan Singer, 1995)
On the face of it this movie might seem a bit out of place on this list – it's the only entry that doesn’t focus on a conman at the heart of its story, instead throwing the audience in with gangsters and heist artists. But that’s all part of its genius. The greatest trick The Usual Suspects ever pulled was convincing the world its conman didn’t exist.

Catch Me If You Can

(Steven Spielberg, 2002)
The only one on the list with roots in real life, Catch Me If You Can tells the story of charismatic Frank Abagnale Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio), who led the FBI a merry dance during the 1960s as he cashed in around $2.5million in fraudulent cheques in 26 countries – all before his 21st birthday. The movie ends as the story did in real life – with Abagnale switching sides and joining the Feds’ fraud investigation team.

Matchstick Men

(Ridley Scott, 2003)
We’ve got a soft spot in our hearts for the mercurial talents of Nicolas Cage – for every clunker like Knowing, Next or the National Treasures, there’s a stand-out turn in Bad Lieutenant, Kick-Ass or Adaptation. His turn as neurotic huckster Roy Waller belongs firmly in this latter category, with more-than-able support from Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman.

The Imposter Official US Trailer 720P

The Imposter

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • UK
  • 1h 39min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Bart Layton

Documentary about Frédéric Bourdin, a twentysomething French drifter who successfully passed himself off as missing American teenager Nicholas Barclay, fooling even Barclay’s own family. Bart Layton’s punchy film rams home the sheer unlikeliness of the story, letting us experience Bourdin’s extraordinary persuasiveness as…