Thursday Movie Picks: Fake Identity

This week in Thursday Movie Picks – run by Wandering through the Shelves – we’ve been asked to list three to five films that feature fake identity. I found this a tricky theme, as there are many more films that focus on mistaken identity instead, so may have strayed from the brief slightly.

If you haven’t seen some of these films, expect spoilers!

Gattaca (1997)

A major theme of this dystopian science fiction film is genetic discrimination: what you have the ability to become in life is determined by your genetics. Ethan Hawke’s protagonist is classed as genetically inferior (an ‘invalid’) so assumes the identity of Jude Law’s genetically perfect (‘valid’) but wheelchair-bound character in order to fulfil his dream of travelling to space.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

This film sees Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his most charming roles. Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr, DiCaprio assumes several identities in the mid 1960s – including a pilot and a doctor – in order to con his way into receiving millions of dollars. It features an all-star cast including Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken.

The Devil’s Double (2011)

My final choice sees Dominic Cooper in a dual role. Cooper portrays Uday Hussein (eldest child of Saddam Hussein and a truly despicable, abhorrent person) and his body double, Latif Yahia. It’s an uncomfortable watch, as it brings to the screen real life events that Uday was claimed to have carried out. Cooper excels in both roles.

17 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: Fake Identity

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  1. I love Catch Me If You Can! Clever, involving and fun with a great look and wonderful performances.

    Your right about The Devil’s Double not being an easy watch but Dominic Cooper makes it worth sticking with. Despite his excellence though I’ll never watch it again.

    Gattaca was fine but I’ve never gone back to it since that first time seeing it in the theatre.

    Like you I tried to find three that dealt with the theme in slightly different ways. My last bears some similarities with Catch Me, and is also based on a true story.

    This Side of the Law (1950)-Picked up on a vagrancy charge wanderer David Cummins (Kent Smith) is bailed out by lawyer Philip Cagle (Robert Douglas) because he bears a remarkable resemblance to multi-millionaire Malcolm Taylor. As it happens Taylor is about to be declared dead after having gone missing seven years hence, if David will assume Taylor’s identity and convince his estranged family-wife Evelyn (Viveca Lindfors), brother Calder (John Alvin) and sister-in-law Nadine (Janis Paige)-that he is truly the missing man Cagle will pay him five thousand dollars. What seems like easy money quickly spirals into a web of deception and murder.

    The Man Who Never Was (1956)-During WWII as Britain mobilizes to invade Sicily, intelligence agent Ewen Montagu (Clifton Webb) conceives a diversionary scheme to lead Germany to believe the true target is Greece. Creating the false identity of Major William Martin for a young man with no family who recently died of pneumonia (giving the appearance of drowning) Montagu plants phony top secret documents on the body and arranges for it to wash ashore in Spain. While Hitler believes the information German undercover agent Patrick O’Reilly (Stephen Boyd) is skeptical. His suspicions risk exposing the deception.

    The Great Imposter (1961)-Young Ferdinand Demara Jr. (Tony Curtis) quits high school to join the Army with hopes of becoming an officer but finds his lack of education stands in his way. His solution is to fake papers as an officer in the Marines but eventually his lie is detected. On the run he assumes the identity of a Trappist monk. In time though he again must flee and as the years pass Demara impersonates a sailor, prison warden, teacher and doctor as his journeys take him around the globe. This is based on a true story.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Joel. I completely agree – Cooper is excellent in The Devil’s Double but it isn’t one I’ll rush to watch again.

      Interesting picks, especially This Side of the Law. It’s assuming to me as I know someone called Malcolm Taylor! He’s not a multi millionaire though..!

  2. Catch Me If You can is popular this week! I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Gattaca once but I’m struggling to remember much from it.

    1. Ha, yes, it certainly is! I’ve seen Gattaca a few times but one of the reasons why I remember it so well is because it was one of the first films rated 15 that I watched when I was younger.

  3. I haven’t seen Gattaca of The Devil’s Double, although I do like Dominic Cooper. I really loved Catch Me If You Can though!

  4. I love Catch Me If You Can which is a great movie and well acted. There is another blogger I follow who actually met the real Frank Abignale. I hope she writes a post about this. I have heard of Gattica but still have not seen it nor the 3rd film you chose.

  5. I haven’t seen The Devil’s Double and Gattaca, but I love Catch Me If You Can. Great performances by Leo and Tom. It was a pretty popular pick this week and for good reason. 🙂

  6. I didn’t participate last week but I probably would’ve chosen Catch Me If You Can as one of them. I haven’t seen The Devil’s Double yet though I remember seeing the trailer. Dominic Cooper is a more versatile actor than most people give him credit for.

  7. Catch Me If You Can was the first film that came to mind when I saw the fake identity prompt and it makes me want to rewatch it now haha.

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