Frank Abagnale was the world’s greatest con artist. The movie Catch Me If You Can is based on the true-life story this man, who bilked the government out of more than $5 million by the time he was 21. Raised in the home of a father who cheated the government and a mother who cheated on her husband, he observed the ease with which a person can lie his way through life.
At age 16, when his parents divorce, he runs away and for two years leads a life of amazing deception. Creating false documents and forging checks, he passes himself off as an airline pilot, a medical doctor, and a practicing attorney. During this time he even passed a state bar exam.
While posing as a doctor, Frank meets a young nurse, Brenda, and falls in love. When he meets her father, who is a prestigious lawyer, and her mother, he scores points with them by feigning to be a graduate of the same law school the father attended. Knowing they are dedicated Lutherans, he also claims to be Lutheran. Because Frank looks ten years older than he really is, Brenda’s father hires him as an associate in his law firm.
The FBI crashes their elaborate engagement party at the parents’ mansion, but Frank sees them coming and races upstairs to pack his bags. Before the agents enter the home, Frank’s fiancé Brenda follows him into the bedroom. He wants her to escape with him. He opens his suitcases to pack for a quick getaway, and Brenda sees thousands of dollars in cash stuffed in each valise. Frank must level with her. He confesses, “Brenda, I don’t want to lie to you anymore. I’m not a doctor. I’ve never been to medical school. I’m not a lawyer or a Harvard graduate. I’m not even a Lutheran. I ran away from home a year and a half ago when I was 16!” With a straight face, Brenda says, “Frank? Frank? You’re not a Lutheran?”