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Con Man
Con Man
Actor: James Hogue
Director: Jesse Moss
Genres: Documentary
NR     2006     1hr 33min

Mesmerizing and provocative, CON MAN explores the remarkable life of James Arthur Hogue, a brilliant imposter who embraced the American art of self-invention, fabricated a spectacular series of fictional identities for him...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: James Hogue
Director: Jesse Moss
Creators: Elia Lyssy, Frank G. DeMarco, Tony Hardmon, Jesse Moss, Youna Kwak
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Crime & Conspiracy
Studio: Docurama
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/26/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Leaves a few questions
Bradley F. Smith | Miami Beach, FL | 07/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Well-told tale of a kid-turned-drifter who cons his way into high school as a track star when he was 10 years older than everyone else, and who then cons his way into Princeton U where he becomes a star. Though repeatedly caught, and also arrested for unrelated thefts, the "star" keeps doing it, serving quite a bit of time in prison and jail, despite an obviously high IQ. The film just doesn't answer why, and interviews with the subject are not revealing either. Illness? But what kind? Also, should he have been allowed to graduate anyways, since he was obviously intelligent and talented enough? Moral questions are explored and somewhat answered. You'll probably hate the little female snitch from the high school who also blew the whistle at Princeton. A very strange tale, indeed."
A tale of a con artist's career
L. Jonsson | Charleston, SC United States | 10/21/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Con Man" is the strange but true story of James Hogue; a prolific con artist. After an uneventful childhood and adulthood in Kansas, he enrolled in a Palo Alto high school as "Jay Mitchell Huntsman," a 16 year old orphan from Nevada. The director of this documentary knew Hogue from those high school days. He set track records there, but was very mysterious, and he was exposed as a fraud when a local reporter digs up his birth certificate which states that he was dead. He was suspended and then expelled from Palo Alto high School. Hogue was then arrested and convicted of the theft of bicycle frames in Utah, and deferred his admission to Princeton while he served his sentence. He next enrolled at Princeton in 1988 under the name Alexi Indris-Santana, a self-taught orphan from Utah. He was accepted by the staff of Princeton as brilliant, and had friends, although he was known to be quiet and a loner. His identity was exposed at a track meet when a student from Palo Alto high school recognized him. The film concentrates on what occured at Princeton and at Palo Alto high school. It is fascinating to watch. The interview with James Hogue (in which he NEVER makes eye contact with the camera) really makes the documentary. He rationalizes his actions, and does not take responsibility for being a fraud. He mentions that if he were a drug addict, there would be hundreds of psychiatrists interested in his story, but because he is not he never got the medical attention he needed to stop. It is continuously repeated in his story, and by him, that Hogue was just "...trying to make a fresh start."
It is never mentioned as to why Hogue chose Princeton to swindle, rather than some other Ivy league school, or why he did not choose to enroll under his real name at a less prestigious school and get a legitimate degree. Upon seeing this documentary I got the distinct feeling that even Hogue does not know why he chose Princeton, or why he does what he does, that his behavior is compulsive.
In the documentary his friends at Princeton and his professors that are interviewed do not appear that they have been conned by Hogue. His friends actually appear regretful that he was not allowed to finish at Princeton. It is pointed out by one friend that despite the fact he was using an assumed identity, Hogue took the SATs himself and scored a 1410, and made excellent grades at Princeton in some of the hardest subjects while the students that got in on their own merit did not fare as well. An interview with his attorney during that time period also sympathized with Hogue, and stated that the scandal should have just been dealt with within Princeton and Hogue expelled, rather than he receive jail time and massive publicity. The police are not as sympathetic. The director of the film is sympathetic to Hogue as well, and possibly due to that he leaves some details out of Hogue's life after he left Princeton. He next made headlines in 1993 with his association with Harvard. He worked as a security guard in one of their museums under an assumed name and stole gemstones on exhibit, and replaced them with fakes. He was charged with grand larceny. He then violated the conditions of his parole by returning to Princeton in 1996 under the assumed name of Jim MacAuthor. He was again found out, arrested, , and eventually tried for "defiant trespass."
And there is more. Police searched Hogue's home in Colorado in January 2005 and found 7,000 stolen items, worth over $100,000, from homes in which Hogue had worked as a repairman and remodeller. For this, he received a 10 year prison sentence.
"Con Man" is intriguing. You will not be able to stop watching this documentary.