Steven Spielberg’s directorial Catch Me If You Can chronicles the story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a smart and cunning con artist who poses as a doctor, lawyer, and Pan Am pilot, and forges millions in checks. FBI Agent Carl Hanratty tries to pursue him, which leads to a cat-and-mouse chase that goes on across continents. So, are Frank’s antics in Catch Me If You Can based on a true story, and is the movie inspired by any real events and facts?
Is Catch Me If You Can based on a true story?
Yes, Catch Me If You Can is based on the true story of former convicted fraudster, Frank Abagnale Jr., and follows his journey from teenage to his eventual downfall and redemption. The movie has been adapted from his eponymous autobiography, written by him and Stand Redding. Frank was undoubtedly not an ordinary conman, as he successfully executed numerous fraudulent schemes before the age of 19 like posing as a Pan American World Airways pilot, a doctor in Georgia, and a Louisiana parish prosecutor.
Catch Me If You Can ‘s real events and facts explained
The sequences with the FBI agent Carl Hanratty in the movie included some creative liberties for dramatic effect, but for the most part, it remained grounded in Frank’s factual accounts. He was able to forge checks, assume false identities, and trick law enforcement, which made an entertaining story, filled with crime, drama, and humor. However, Frank was so skilled that the FBI hired him as a security consultant so he could assist them with fraud prevention.
But before securing this position, Frank had to serve prison time in various countries including the United States, after he was apprehended in 1969 in France. He was only released under the condition that he would help federal authorities combat other fraudsters and he accepted their offer, putting his talents to good use.
The real people behind Catch Me If You Can’s characters
Catch Me If You Can is a cinematic portrayal of Frank’s life, a young prodigy who committed several crimes before the age of 19. Most of the film’s characters, including FBI agent Carl Hanratty are based on real-life individuals that Frank mentioned in his autobiography. These individuals played a crucial role in influencing his life. The film also captures their interesting dynamic and how his encounter with law enforcement led to his eventual redemption.
Is Frank Abagnale Jr. a real person?
Yes, Frank Abagnale Jr. is the real-life con artist who served as an inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Catch Me If You Can. His journey from being a fraudulent man who kept outsmarting law enforcement multiple times, to a man who started working for the FBI is like no other.
Is Carl Hanratty a real person?
Tom Hanks‘ character, Carl Hanratty, is inspired by Joseph Shea, the real-life FBI agent who relentlessly pursued Frank. However, in the film, Carl is a blend of several FBI agents who influenced Frank. Joseph was only one of them, and the most known one amongst them all.
Is Frank Abagnale Sr. a real person?
Yes, Frank Abagnale Sr. (played by Christopher Walken) represents Frank Junior’s real father who underwent financial difficulties and family challenges. In the film, he seems supportive and proud of his son when he successfully tricks students into believing he is a professor. But, it is also important to note that some aspects of their relationship might have been dramatized for storytelling purposes.
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This story originally appeared on Comingsoon