Master of Disguise

        The movie Catch Me if You Can, directed in 2002 by Steven Spielberg, is based on the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr., even though a lot of the movie is over-exaggerated. Abagnale knew the writer of the film would make a Hollywood sized story loosely based on his background (Abagnale). What we do know is that Frank Abagnale, Jr., was a con artist who wrote millions of dollars worth of bad checks and disguised himself as a pilot, a doctor, and then a lawyer. He was just a kid when he began disguising himself in these career positions. Abagnale first started writing bad checks when he was around age sixteen and was not caught until he was twenty one (Bell).

        One of the moments in the movie that I still remember, since I have seen it, happens when Frank Abagnale, Jr., (Leonardo DiCaprio) escapes for the first time by going to the bathroom while still in the air. He unscrews the seat from the floor, and he starts hiding underneath the open compartment. When the plane lands he jumps off and escape. In Abagnale's actual autobiography he says that he had studied the structural components of airplanes (Bell).

        Frank Abagnale was a very smart and cunning young man. He knew how to make people believe what he said. He even convinced the guards at one prison that he was an "undercover federal agent" posing as a criminal to gain information. The guards ended up believing him and let him out of jail. This is just the beginning of his escapades. After this incident he disguises himself as an airplane pilot so that he can get free transportation to anywhere in the world; and he goes to many unsuspecting banks to write bad checks, which is how he began stealing all his money. In real life Abagnale stole a total of $2.5 million, even though the movie says it is a lot more (Bell).

        Abagnale had many women over his years as a con man; but he was never happy because he could not tell anyone who he truly was; therefore, he had a lot of relationships, but could not have any serious relationships. The one time he got serious with a woman, they got engaged. He decided to tell her who he was because he though she loved him enough to keep his secret. Turn out she told the authorities, causing him to realized it was hard to trust anyone. He finally realized he could not keep up his escapades, so he decided to stop and just hide out. He was finally captured and was given a twelve-year sentence, which he only had to serve five years for. Today, after serving his sentence for what he did, he has given the government a lot of information on how to catch check forgers (Bell). Abagnale now gives lectures on his experience. He says that, once he became a father, he changed a lot. He says on his website that he is no longer "egotistical and self-centered" and he knows that what he did is wrong and he has been trying to fix what he did ever since (Abagnale).

Works Cited

Abagnale and Associates. “Comments.” 3 Sep. 2002. 28 Apr. 2006 .

Bell, Rachael. “Skywayman: The Story of Frank W. Abagnale Jr.” 28 Apr. 2006 .

Catch Me If You Can. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Perfs. Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken. Film. DreamWorks SKG, 2002.

Alaina Schroth

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