This Friday, a new restoration of the 1989 indie classic Chameleon Street opens at BAM. Wendell B. Harris’s utterly unique satire follows a real-life compulsive conman, Douglas Street, whose increasingly risky scams demonstrate both a sociopathic genius and a deep pathos. Wendell not only wrote and directed the film, but, like his hero Orson Welles, also played the lead character, with all of the dangerous charm of a man who conned his way into a surgical theater.
On today’s podcast, Wendell joins FC Editors Clinton Krute and Devika Girish for a fascinating oral history of the making of Chameleon Street, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. He also revealed that he’s pulled some cons of his own: in 1978, he scored an interview with classic Hollywood actor Hurd Hatfield by pretending to be a Film Comment reporter. Wendell, when you find the tape, please send it our way! Better late than never.
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