Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Catch Me If You Can
The movie states that it depicts the true life story of Abagnale; the movie diverges somewhat from the real events as reported in Abagnale's book on his exploits.
Tagline: The true story of a real fake.
The film dramatizes the true story of a teenaged con man who stole over $4 million through forgery and other frauds, throughout a crime career lasting six years from 1963 to 1969. The film diverges from the protagonist's actual life story for dramatic effect. According to the movie, Frank's impersonations typically served to gain him temporary prestige, as an airline pilot, doctor, or lawyer, as well as aiding him in cashing forged checks. He was caught by the FBI in 1969, and reduced his sentence by agreeing to assist FBI's bank fraud division by detecting forgeries and advising on countermeasures.
Comparison with the book
Compared to the actual events described in Abagnale's book, Catch Me If You Can , the movie can be described as loosely based on true events. The name of the protagonist and some of his exploits are the same as in real life, but the manner in which he achieved them has been changed. The movie never claimed to be a documentary.
One example of the changes in the movie include Abagnale's promiscuity. In the movie, Abagnale had one or two liasons. In real life, Abagnale had numerous liasons with dozens of women he encountered while in his false guises (airline pilot, doctor, etc.). Abagnale showed no remorse for his "love 'em and leave 'em" attitude towards most of these women, stating that they were promiscuous themselves and had, more or less, thrown themselves at him and weren't interested in long-term relationships anyway.
While posing as a doctor, Abagnale left the hospital voluntarily in the movie. In real life, he was "fired" after almost letting a baby die of oxygen deprivation (Abagnale had no idea what the nurse meant when she said there was a "blue baby"). Abagnale was able to fake his way through most of his duties before the final one, by letting the orderlies handle most of the cases that came in during his rather late night shift, such as setting broken bones and other such tasks.
One of his exploits covered in the movie, forging checks in France, shows Abagnale running the checks off himself. In real life, he had the father of one of his girlfriends print the checks. The father owned a print shop, but had no idea that he was printing unauthorized documents. Abagnale had given him a sample (real) Pan Am paycheck and the man duplicated them, with different numbers, but otherwise identical to the original paycheck (Abagnale told him Pan Am was thinking of switching check printers and wanted a sample run). The "sample run" he provided Abagnale contained 10,000 checks. Unable to use so many checks, Abagnale kept a small portion and discarded the rest.
The movie also dramatizes the capture of Abagnale in France (outside the aforementioned print shop). The movie depicts this event with dozens of police and patrol cars appearing, seemingly, out of the ether and descending upon Abagnale. The French police are depicted as overexcited and intent on shooting Abagnale should he make the slighest attempt of resistance; the FBI agent is on the spot to talk Abagnale into surrendering. Abagnale in real life was captured in a French airport by two uniformed police officers. Though he tried to con his way out of it, he was arrested with little excitement.
In the movie, Abagnale becomes bored with his 9-to-5 job after his release from prison and goes off on another exploit. There is no evidence of it in the book (the book ends as Abagnale evades capture by the FBI after being deported from Sweden back to the US). It probably didn't happen at all, but is another invention of the movie makers.
The relationship between Abagnale and the FBI agent in the movie is never explored in the book. The book reveals no connection with any one agent at all.
Cast and roles include
- Leonardo DiCaprio - Frank William Abagnale Jr.
- Tom Hanks - Carl Hanratty
- Christopher Walken - Frank William Abagnale (father)
- Martin Sheen - Roger Strong
- Nathalie Baye - Paula Abagnale, Frank's mother
- Amy Adams - Brenda Strong
- James Brolin - Jack Barnes
- Jennifer Garner - Cheryl Ann
- Brian Howe - Earl Amdursky
- Frank John Hughes - Tom Fox
- Steve Eastin - Paul Morgan
- Chris Ellis - Special Agent Witkins
- John Finn - Assistant Director Marsh
- Nancy Lenehan - Carol Strong
- Ellen Pompeo - Marci
- Elizabeth Banks - Lucy
- Guy Thauvette - Warden Garren
- Candy Azzara - Darcy
- Matthew Kimbrough - Loan Officer
- Joshua Boyd - Football Player
- Kaitlin Doubleday - Joanna
- Kelly McNair - Girl #1
- Jonathan Dankner - Student #1
- Maggie Mellin - Teacher
- Thomas Kopache - Principal Evans
- Margaret Travolta - Ms. Davenport
- Jimmie F. Skaggs - Bartender
- Alex Hyde-White - Mr. Kesner
- Lilyan Chauvin - Mrs. Lavalier
- Eugene Fleming - Ticket Clerk
- Robert Ruth - Hotel Manager
- Jennifer Manley - Ashley
- James Morrison - Pilot
- Robert Symonds - Mr. Rosen
- Jennifer Kan - Female Bank Teller
- Robert Curtis-Brown - Front Desk Clerk
- Kelly Hutchinson - Young Female Teller
- Steve Witting - Manager
- Wendy Worthington - Receptionist
- Jane Bodle - TWA Ticket Agent
- J. Patrick McCormack - Auctioneer
- Brian Goodman - Motel Owner
- Ray Proscia - Salesman
- Sarah Lancaster - Riverbend Woman
- Jill Matson - Riverbend Woman
- Mike Baldridge - Terry
- Joel Ewing - Party Guy
- Ritchie Montgomery - Young Doctor
- Jim Antonio - Victor Griffith
- Angela Sorensen - Party Girl
- Jonathan Brent - Dr. Ashland
- Benita Krista Nall - Emergency Nurse
- Shane Edelman - Dr. Harris
- Andrew Meeks - Young Patient
- Morgan Rusler - FBI Agent
- Jane Edith Wilson - Bar Examiner
- Dave Hager - Judge
- Kyle Davis - Kid
- Patrick Thomas O'Brien - Mr. Hendricks
- Jaime Ray Newman - Monica
- Deborah Kellner - Debra Jo
- Mercedes Cornett - Heather
- Amy Acker - Miggy Acker
- Robert Peters - FBI Agent
- James DuMont - FBI Agent
- Thomas Crawford - FBI Agent
- Sarah Rush - Secretary
- Malachi Throne - Abe Penner
- Alfred Dennis - Ira Penner
- Max Kerstein - Penner Brother
- Donna Kimball - TWA Stewardess
- Jan Munroe - Captain Oliver
- Stephen Dunham - Pilot
- Brandon Keener - Pilot
- Jasmine Jessica Anthony - Little Girl
- Anthony Powers - NY Savings Bank Manager
- Lauren Cohn - Female Teller
- Jeremy Howard - Teen Waiter
- Jack Knight - Man #3
- Jamie Anderson - Ilene
- Kam Heskin - Candy
- Ana Maria Quintana - Hotel Maid
- Gerald R. Molen - FBI Agent
- Celine du Tertre - Little Girl on Street
- Stan Bly - Blind Man
- Jamie Moss - Young Man
- Jessica Collins - Peggy
The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (John Williams) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Christopher Walken).
Filming locations include
- Catch Me If You Can, the book by Abagnale and Redding
Other films of the same title
- A 1959 black and white crime drama
- A 1989 film about high schoolers and illegal racecar betting, directed by Stephen Sommers.
- A 1998 film about a child finding stolen money, directed by Jeffrey Reiner . (Also released as Deadly Game and Hide and Seek .)
- "Catch 'em If You Can" is a Simpsons episode which aired on April 25, 2004.
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