F for Fake was, depending on how you look at it, Orson Welles last feature film as a director, and -- as Peter Bogdanovich describes it in an insightful introduction -- it's not quite a documentary but rather a "documentary essay" about trickery and fraud in its various incarnations.
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The film, as compelling as it is, is almost undone by Sinatra's performance, which is capable but unequal to his co-stars. Sinatra, of course, had so much power during the making of the film, that he's never really pushed for a good take. As a result, weaker scenes have been left in, presumably due to Sinatra's notorious unwillingness to do retakes. Too bad, because they're needed here badly. It's little matter, though: The Manchurian Candidate's classic structure and breakneck pacing are a perfect match for the movie's incredible story punch to the gut. George Axelrod's script turns Richard Condon's novel into classic cinema. Its suspense is gripping, and its biting political statement (lambasting McCarthyism deeply) is unparalleled in cinema this side of a Michael Moore movie.
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Darling exposes the jet-set high society of the mid-'60s with the cynicism and detail of a muckraking documentary. Antonioni and Fellini explored the same milieu, but writer Frederic Raphael is a much sharper and subtler satirist than either. (Raphael is also responsible for Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, and Darling's influence on that film is easy to spot). Raphael's script effectively surveys a gallery of posers -- vapid trendsetters, journalists and fashionistas, pretentious artists, and even minor royalty (Diana marries an Italian prince). Though the film drags in a few places, John Schlesinger's direction is generally excellent.
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Sellers may very well have had no idea what he was getting into with this movie, an adaptation of the cult novel by the same name from author Terry Southern. The film concerns Sellers' business magnate Guy Grand, who adopts a homeless man (Starr) and presents him to the board as his son.
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