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Catch Me If You Can

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Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 American biographical

Catch Me If You Can
crime drama film, based on the life of Frank Abagnale,
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who, before his 19th birthday, successfully performed
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cons worth millions of dollars by posing as a Pan
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American World Airways pilot, a Georgia doctor,
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Louisiana parish prosecutor. His primary crime was
check fraud; he became so experienced that the FBI
eventually turned to him to help in catching other
with Clearly
forgers. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg and
stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, with
Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, and Nathalie Baye
in supporting roles.
Development for the film started in 1980 but did not
progress until 1997 when the film rights to Abagnales
book were sold to Spielberg's DreamWorks. David
Fincher, Gore Verbinski, Lasse Hallstrm, Milo
Forman, and Cameron Crowe had all been possible
candidates for director before Spielberg decided to
direct. Filming took place from February to May 2002.
The film was a financial and critical success, and the real
Abagnale reacted positively to it.

Theatrical release poster

Directed by
Produced by


Jeff Nathanson

Based on

Catch Me If You Can

1980 book
by Frank Abagnale
and Stan Redding


3 Production
3.1 Development
3.2 Casting
3.3 Filming
4 Music

Music by

Leonardo DiCaprio
Tom Hanks
Christopher Walken
Martin Sheen
Nathalie Baye
John Williams

Cinematography Janusz Kamiski

Edited by

5 Fictions
Distributed by

6 Themes

Steven Spielberg
Walter F. Parkes

Screenplay by

1 Plot
2 Cast

Steven Spielberg

Michael Kahn
Amblin Entertainment
DreamWorks Pictures

6 Themes
Release dates

7 Release
7.1 Box office
7.2 Critical response
7.3 Home media


Running time

141 minutes[1]


United States




$52 million

Box office

$352.1 million

8 Musical adaptation
9 See also
10 References
11 External links

In 1963, teen-aged Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives in New Rochelle, New York with his father
Frank Abagnale, Sr. (Christopher Walken), and French mother Paula (Nathalie Baye). When Frank Sr. is
denied a business loan at Chase Manhattan Bank due to unknown difficulties with the IRS, the family is
forced to move from their large home to a small apartment. Paula carries on an affair with Jack (James
Brolin), a friend of her husband. Meanwhile, Frank poses as a substitute teacher in his French class. Franks
parents file for divorce, and Frank runs away. When he runs out of money, he begins relying on confidence
scams to get by. Soon, Franks cons increase and he even impersonates an airline pilot. He forges Pan Am
payroll checks and succeeds in stealing over $2.8 million.
Meanwhile, Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks), an FBI bank fraud agent, begins tracking Frank. Carl and Frank
meet at a hotel, where Frank convinces Carl his name is Barry Allen of the Secret Service. Frank leaves,
Carl angrily realizing a minute too late that he has been fooled. Later, at Christmas, Carl is still at work
when Frank calls him, attempting to apologize for duping Carl. Carl rejects his apology and tells him he will
soon be caught, but laughs when he realizes Frank actually called him because he has no one else to talk to.
Frank hangs up, and Carl continues to investigate, suddenly realizing (thanks to a waiter) that the name
Barry Allen is from the Flash comic books and that Frank is actually a teenager.
Frank, meanwhile, has expanded his con to include the identities of a doctor and lawyer, but has fallen in
love with Brenda (Amy Adams), to whom he eventually admits the truth about himself and asks her to run
away with him. Carl tracks him to his engagement party where Frank has left Brenda, asking her to meet
him two days later so they can elope. Frank sees her waiting for him two days later, but also notices
plainclothes agents waiting to arrest him, realizing he has been set up and escapes on a flight to Europe.
Seven months later, Carl shows his boss that Frank has been forging checks all over western Europe and
asks permission to go to Europe to look for him. When his boss refuses, Carl brings Franks checks to
printing professionals who claim that the checks were printed in France. From an interview with Franks
mother, Carl remembers that she was actually born in Montrichard, France. He goes there and locates Frank,

and tells him that the French police will kill him if he does not go with Carl quietly. Frank assumes he is
lying at first, but Carl promises Frank he would never lie to him, and Carl takes him outside, where the
French police escort him to prison.
The scene then flashes forward to a plane returning Frank home from prison, where Carl informs him that
his father has died. Grief-stricken, Frank escapes from the plane and goes back to his old house, where he
finds his mother with the man she left his father for, as well as a girl who Frank realizes is his half-sister.
Frank gives himself up and is sentenced to 12 years in prison, getting visits from time to time from Carl.
When Frank points out how one of the checks Carl is carrying as evidence is fake, Carl convinces the FBI to
offer Frank a deal by which he can live out the remainder of his sentence working for the bank fraud
department of the FBI, which Frank accepts. While working at the FBI, Frank misses the thrill of the chase
and even attempts to fly as an airline pilot again. He is cornered by Carl, who insists that Frank will return
to the FBI job since no one is chasing him. On the following Monday, Carl is nervous that Frank has not yet
arrived at work. However, Frank eventually arrives and they discuss their next case.
The ending credits reveal that Frank has been happily married for 26 years, has three sons, lives in the
Midwest, is still good friends with Carl, has caught some of the world's most elusive money forgers, and
earns millions of dollars each year because of his work creating unforgeable checks.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, Jr. Before his 19th
birthday, Frank successfully conned millions of dollars worth
of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and Louisiana parish
Tom Hanks as Carl Hanratty, an FBI agent who pursues Frank
for most of the film. Hanratty is often teased by other agents
who take check fraud as a joke. Hanratty is divorced, and his
daughter and ex-wife live in Chicago. In the end, Carl and
Frank become great friends.
Christopher Walken as Frank Abagnale, Sr., Franks father,
Leonardo DiCaprio and the real
and a World War II veteran. Frank, Sr. loses his wife Paula
Frank Abagnale.
and most of his wealth after he committed tax evasion. Frank,
Sr. dies after falling down a staircase in a train station.
Nathalie Baye as Paula Abagnale. Frank, Sr. meets her when she is 18 years old in Montrichard,
France during World War II. Five weeks later, the couple marries. They divorce when Frank Jr. is 16,
leaving Paula to marry Jack Barnes, with whom she has a daughter.
Amy Adams as Brenda Strong. Before becoming a nurse, Brenda had an abortion. Her strict Lutheran
parents disown her, until they meet Frank, Jr.
Martin Sheen as Roger Strong, Brendas father, and Carols husband. Roger is a well-recognized
district attorney in Louisiana and is not easily convinced that Frank, Jr. graduated from law school.
James Brolin as Jack Barnes, an associate of Frank, Sr. at the New Rochelle, New York Rotary Club.
Barnes later carries on an affair with Paula, leading to the divorce of Frank Jr.'s parents.
Nancy Lenehan as Carol Strong, Brendas mother and Rogers wife. When thinking that Frank, Jr. is a
doctor, lawyer and Lutheran, she is highly ecstatic for her daughters marriage.
Brian Howe, Frank John Hughes and Chris Ellis portray FBI agents. Jennifer Garner cameos as a call girl,
and Ellen Pompeo and Elizabeth Banks have small roles. The real Frank Abagnale appears in a cameo as a
French police officer arresting his character.[2]

Frank Abagnale sold the film rights to his autobiography in 1980.[3] Executive Producer Michel Shane
purchased the film rights in 1990,[4] for Paramount Pictures.[5] By December 1997, Barry Kemp purchased
the film rights from Shane, bringing the project to DreamWorks, with Jeff Nathanson writing the script.[6]
By April 2000, David Fincher was attached to direct over the course of a few months, but dropped out in
favor of Panic Room. In July 2000, Leonardo DiCaprio had entered discussions to star, with Gore Verbinski
to direct.[7][8] Steven Spielberg signed on as producer, and filming was set to begin in March 2001.[9][10]

Verbinski cast James Gandolfini as Carl Hanratty, Ed Harris as Frank Abagnale, Sr., and Chlo Sevigny as
Brenda Strong.[11][12] Verbinski dropped out because of DiCaprio's commitment on Gangs of New York.[13]
Lasse Hallstrm was in negotiations to direct by May 2001, but dropped out in July 2001. At this stage
Harris and Sevigny left the film, but Gandolfini was still attached.[12][14] Spielberg, co-founder of
DreamWorks, offered the job of director to Milo Forman, and considered hiring Cameron Crowe. During
this negotiation period, Spielberg began to consider directing the film himself, eventually dropping projects
such as Big Fish and Memoirs of a Geisha.[10][15] Spielberg officially committed to directing in August
The search for Strong's portrayer lasted months but Amy Adams was eventually cast. Spielberg "loved" her
tape and producer Walter F. Parkes commented that she was as fresh and honest as anyone wed seen,
which was an important element in the role. Christopher Walken was cast as Frank Abagnale, Sr. following
Parkes suggestion. Martin Sheen played Roger Strong as he had intimidating presence. Spielberg wanted
a French actress to portray Paula Abagnale to stay true to the facts. He asked for Brian De Palmas help who
was living in Paris and he did tests with several actresses such as Nathalie Baye. Spielberg had seen Jennifer
Garner on Alias and wanted her to play a small role in the film due to her busy schedule.[16]

The original start date was January 2002,[4] but was pushed to February 7 in Los Angeles, California.[17]
Other locations included Burbank, Downey, New York, LA/Ontario International Airport (which doubled
for Miami International Airport), Quebec City and Montreal.[18] The film was shot in 147 different locations
in only 52 days. DiCaprio reflected, "Scenes that we thought would take three days took an afternoon".[19]
Filming ran from April 2530 in Park Avenue, just outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Production moved to
Orange, New Jersey and returned to Brooklyn for bank and courthouse scenes. Shooting also took place at
the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport.[20] Quebec City was chosen for its
European character and French feel. Place Royale, within Old Quebec, stands for Montrichardthe church
in the background of the arrest scene is Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.[21] Filming ended on May 12 in

The film's soundtrack was released on December 10, 2002 by DreamWorks Records. The original score was
composed by John Williams.

Despite the various changes from real-life events, Abagnale believed Spielberg was the only filmmaker who
"could do this film justice".[23] However, Abagnale had little involvement with the film. In November 2001,
he had "never met nor spoken to Steven Spielberg and I have not read the script. I prefer not to. I understand
that they now portray my father in a better light, as he really was. Steven Spielberg has told the screenplay
writer (Jeff Nathanson) that he wants complete accuracy in the relationships and actual scams that I
perpetrated", Abagnale reported. "I hope in the end the movie will be entertaining, exciting, funny and bring
home an important message about family, childhood and divorce".[23]
The real Abagnale never saw his father again after he ran away from home. Spielberg "wanted to continue
to have that connection where Frank kept trying to please his father; by making him proud of him; by seeing
him in the uniform, the Pan-American uniform". However, Abagnale praised the idea. "Even though I didn't
see my dad again, every night after living a brilliant day and meeting many women, and making much
money, I'd come back alone to a hotel room and I would just think of my mom and dad and fantasize about
getting them back together again, and cry. It's the justification of a fantasy."[24] Carl Hanratty (portrayed by
Tom Hanks) is based on FBI agent Joe Shea. In the shooting script the character was referred to as Joe Shea,
but was changed to Carl Hanratty for unknown reasons.[25]

Catch Me if You Can deals with themes of broken homes and troubled childhoods. Spielberg's parents
divorced when he was a teenager, similar to Frank Abagnale's situation. In the film, Carl Hanratty is also
divorced from his wife, who lives with their daughter in Chicago. "Some of my films have had to do with
broken homes and people on the run from their sad pasts", Spielberg stated. "But there are those strands that
got me to say: you know, there's something also about me that I can say through the telling of this kind of
lighthearted story".[24]
Spielberg also wanted to create a film that sympathized with a crook. He explained, "Frank was a 21st
century genius working within the innocence of the mid '60s, when people were more trusting than they are
now. I don't think this is the kind of movie where somebody could say, 'I have a career plan.' "[24]

Game Show Network aired the 1977 episode of the
television game show To Tell the Truth that featured Frank
Abagnale. Segments were shown on December 29, 2002
and January 1, 2003 as promotion.[26] The marketing
department was careful to market the film as "inspired by a

"I know that Hollywood has made a number of

changes to the story, but I am honored that
Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom
Hanks participated in the making of the movie
inspired by my life. It is important to understand

true story" in order to avoid controversy similar to that

surrounding A Beautiful Mind (2001) and The Hurricane
(1999), both of which deviated from history.[24] The
premiere took place at Westwood, Los Angeles, California

inspired by my life. It is important to understand

that it is just a movie, not a biographical
Frank Abagnale's reaction to the film[3]

on December 18, 2002.[27]

Box office
Catch Me If You Can was released on December 25, 2002, earning slightly above $30 million in 3,225
theaters during its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $164.6 million in North America and $187.5
million in foreign countries, coming at a worldwide total of $352.1 million. The film was a financial
success, recouping the $52 million budget six times over.[28] Catch Me If You Can was the eleventh highest
grossing film of 2002. Minority Report (also directed by Spielberg) was tenth highest.[29]

Critical response
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 96%, based on 195 reviews, with the site's critical consensus
reading, "With help from a strong performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life wunderkind con artist
Frank Abagnale, Steven Spielberg crafts a film that's stylish, breezily entertaining, and surprisingly
sweet."[30] On Metacritic the film has a score of 76 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "generally
favorable reviews".[31]
Roger Ebert heavily praised DiCaprio's performance, and concluded "This is not a major Spielberg film,
although it is an effortlessly watchable one".[32] Mick LaSalle said it was "not Spielberg's best movie, but
one of his smoothest and maybe his friendliest. The colorful cinematography, smart performances and brisk
tempo suggest a filmmaker subordinating every other impulse to the task of manufacturing pleasure."[33]
Stephen Hunter believed DiCaprio shows "the range and ease and cleverness that Martin Scorsese so
underutilized in Gangs of New York".[34]
James Berardinelli observed, "Catch Me if You Can never takes itself or its subjects too seriously, and
contains more genuinely funny material than about 90% of the so-called 'comedies' found in multiplexes
these days". In addition Berardinelli praised John Williams' film score, which he felt was "more intimate
and jazzy than his usual material, evoking (intentionally) Henry Mancini".[35] Peter Travers was one of few
who gave the film a negative review. Travers considered Catch Me if You Can to be "bogged down over 140
minutes. A film that took off like a hare on speed ends like a winded tortoise."[36]
At the 75th Academy Awards, Christopher Walken and John Williams were nominated for Best Supporting
Actor and Best Original Score.[37] Walken won the same category at the 56th British Academy Film
Awards, while Williams, costume designer Mary Zophres and screenwriter Jeff Nathanson received
nominations.[38] DiCaprio was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture
Drama.[39] Williams also earned a Grammy Award nomination.[40] Elements of the film were later parodied
in The Simpsons episode "Catch 'Em If You Can".[41]

Home media
Catch Me If You Can was released on DVD on May 6, 2003[42] and on Blu-ray on December 4, 2012.[43]

Musical adaptation
A musical adaptation of the same name premiered at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington in July
2009, starring Aaron Tveit and Norbert Leo Butz.[44] It began previews on Broadway at the Neil Simon
Theatre on March 11, 2011 and officially opened April 10, 2011.[45][46] The musical was nominated for four
Tony Awards, including Best Musical.[47]

See also
The Great Impostor, a 1961 film based on the story of an impostor named Ferdinand Waldo Demara.
The Pretender, a TV series

1. "CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. December 13, 2002. Retrieved
February 13, 2016.
2. Van Luling, Todd (October 17, 2014). "11 Easter Eggs You Never Noticed In Your Favorite Movies". The
Huffington Post., Inc. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
3. Frank Abagnale (September 3, 2002). "Comments". Abagnale & Associates. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
4. Claude Brodesser; Dana Harris (August 21, 2001). "D'Works to play 'Catch' ". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
5. Charles Lyons; Dade Hayes (January 8, 2002). "D'Works sets play date for pricey 'Catch' ". Variety. Retrieved
June 29, 2008.
6. Dan Cox (December 15, 1997). "TV vet Kemp prepping pix at U, UA, D'Works". Variety. Retrieved June 29,
7. Michael Fleming (April 4, 2000). " 'Noon' strikes twice at Spyglass for 3 scribes". Variety. Retrieved June 29,
8. Claude Brodesser; Charles Lyons (July 31, 2000). "DiCaprio plays 'Catch' ". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
9. Michael Fleming (August 22, 2000). "Fox rocks with Mamas & Papas pic". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
10. Michael Fleming (July 30, 2001). "Dish: Billionaire Reveres films". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
11. Claude Brodesser; Dana Harris (November 6, 2000). "Inside Move: DiCaprio misses 'Catch' ". Variety. Retrieved
June 30, 2008.
12. Stax (July 6, 2001). "Another 'Catch' for Leo's Next Flick". IGN. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
13. Michael Fleming (March 15, 2001). "Beresford goes home again; 'Project' pulled". Variety. Retrieved June 30,
14. Charles Lyons; Dana Harris (May 22, 2001). "Hallstrom plays 'Catch' ". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
15. Claude Brodesser; Cathy Dunkley (August 5, 2001). "IEG, DiCaprio 'Gang' up". Variety. Retrieved June 30,
16. "Catch Me If You Can: Production Notes". Retrieved January 8, 2013.
17. Army Archerd (February 11, 2002). "Kudos to Opening Ceremonies". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
18. Army Archerd (April 2, 2002). " 'Tonight Show' employees get anni bonus". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
19. "Catch Me If You Can". Extra. December 12, 2002. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
20. Army Archerd (April 30, 2002). "Who will fill Frank Sinatra's shoes?". Variety. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
21. Brian Linder (May 2, 2002). "Spielly Update: 'Report', 'Catch Me' ". IGN. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
22. Army Archerd (May 14, 2002). " 'Sierra Madre' inspires 'Spider-Man' helmer". Variety. Retrieved July 1, 2008.




Stax (November 15, 2001). "The Man Behind 'Catch Me If You Can' ". IGN. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
Steve Head (December 17, 2002). "An Interview with Steven Spielberg". IGN. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
Claude Brodesser (August 28, 2001). "D'Works tracking top cop for Catch". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
Josef Adalian (December 10, 2002). "Inside Move: Net game for movie link". Variety. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
"H'w'd plays 'Catch' ". Variety. December 18, 2002. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
"Catch Me If You Can (2002)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
"2002 Yearly Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
"Catch Me If You Can". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
"Catch Me If You Can". Metacritic. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
Ebert, Roger. "Catch Me If You Can". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
Mick LaSalle (December 25, 2002). "Holiday Movies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
Stephen Hunter (December 25, 2002). "A Merry Chase". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
Berardinelli, James. "Catch Me If You Can". Retrieved July 3, 2008.
Travers, Peter (January 2, 2003). "Catch Me If You Can". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 19,
2008. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
"74th Academy Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
"56th BAFTA Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
"Golden Globes: 2003". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
"Grammy Awards: 2003". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
Matthew Nastuk, Ian Maxtone-Graham (2004-04-25). "Catch 'Em if You Can". The Simpsons. Season 15.
Episode 331. Fox Broadcasting Company.
"Catch Me If You Can Box Office Data, DVD Sales, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers.
Retrieved January 8, 2013.
Perkis, Ed (December 4, 2012). "Catch Me If You Can [Blu-ray] DVD Review". Retrieved
January 8, 2013.
Hetrick, Adam. Broadway-Aimed "Catch Me If You Can Ends Seattle Premiere Run Aug. 16"
( Playbill. August 16, 2009. Retrieved
"CATCH ME IF YOU CAN to Open on Broadway April 10; Previews March 7, 2011"
ews_March_7_2011_20010101). Retrieved October 17, 2011.
"Catch Me If You Can Books Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre" ( Playbill. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
"2011 Tony Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Earns 14 Nominations"
( Playbill. Retrieved October 17, 2011.

Frank Abagnale, Jr. and Stan Redding. Catch Me If You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest
and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit. (ISBN 0-06-052971-7).

External links
Catch Me If You Can (
Wikiquote has quotations
at the Internet Movie Database
related to: Catch Me If You
Catch Me If You Can
( at AllMovie
Catch Me If You Can ( at the TCM Movie Database
Catch Me If You Can ( at
the American Film Institute Catalog
Catch Me If You Can ( at Box
Office Mojo

Catch Me If You Can ( at Rotten Tomatoes

Catch Me If You Can ( at Metacritic
An Interview with Leonardo DiCaprio - Movies Feature at IGN
Official website for Catch Me If You Can the musical (
Retrieved from ""
Categories: 2002 films English-language films American films 2000s biographical films
2000s crime drama films American biographical films American crime drama films
Biographical films about fraudsters Chase films Film scores by John Williams Films about con artists
Films about identity theft Films based on actual events Films based on biographies
Films directed by Steven Spielberg Films produced by Steven Spielberg Films set in Atlanta, Georgia
Films set in California Films set in Louisiana Films set in Florida Films set in France
Films set in New Rochelle, New York Films set in New York City Films set in the 1960s
Films shot in California Films shot in Montreal True crime films Amblin Entertainment films
DreamWorks Pictures films
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