Now Accepting Apple Pay

Apple Pay is the easiest and most secure way to pay on StudyMoose in Safari.

True Story of Frank Abagnale

Theory q 325 Karla Pope Catch Me if You Can Catch Me if You Can is a movie based off the true story of Frank Abagnale, Jr, who mpersonated a Pan Am Air pilot, a pediatric doctor, and a lawyer, and accumulated over 2. 8 million dollars through these impersonations as well as check fraud all betore his nineteenth birthday. The movie starts ott as a game snow where the contestants question three men all dressed as airline pilots, one of them being the real Frank Abagnale Jr.

Through a series of cut sceens, we see young Frank as a teenager living happily in a big house with his mother, a French woman named Paula Abagnale, and his American military veteran father, Frank Abagnale, Sr. This appiness was soon cracked, however, as the family runs into trouble with the IRS, forcing them to move out of their home and into a smaller apartment. Paula, dissatisfied with her new life, ends up cheating on her husband with his best friend and eventually filing for divorce.

Get quality help now
Doctor Jennifer
Verified writer

Proficient in: Cat

5 (893)

“ Thank you so much for accepting my assignment the night before it was due. I look forward to working with you moving forward ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

When she tries to get her son to choose between the two of them, he freaks out and runs away.

While struggling to live on his own, Frank runs out of money, starting him down his path as one of the youngest con artists during his time. After getting turned down from the bank after trying to cash his very irst fake check, he decides to impersonate a Pan Am Air pilot, conning the company into giving him a uniform while forging his credentials and passport.

Get to Know The Price Estimate For Your Paper
Number of pages
Email Invalid email

By clicking “Check Writers’ Offers”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We’ll occasionally send you promo and account related email

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Check writers' offers

You won’t be charged yet!

After gaining too much publicity doing this, he ends up pretending to be a pediatric doctor in Georgia, where he falls in love with a girl named Brenda, who thinks he’s a doctor as well as a lawyer from Harvard.

He ends up resigning as a lawyer to protect his identity after a real Harvard graduate at the firm started poking around into his background. He eventually is forced to run again as he realizes that FBI Agent Carl Hanratty, who has been chasing after him this whole time, is onto him again, escaping to Europe where he is eventually found by Carl in France, printing his own checks. After spending about a year in Perpignan Prison, Carl got him deported back to America. After trying to escape upon learning that his father died, he was caught in front of his mother’s new house and went to prison.

Eventually, after helping Carl with a check fraud case, Frank is transferred from prison into FBI custody to work under Carl’s supervision. When he becomes bored, he tried to run again, but nevitably returns after a confrontation with Carl at the airport, continuing to help catch con men and check fraud with his experience. There are many theories in this movie, but the primary, main one that was obvious to me was Rational Choice theory. With Rational Choice theory is defined “the view that crime is a function of a decision- making process in which the potential offender weighs the potential costs and benefits of an illegal act. . What this means is that the criminal (or would be criminal) is faced with a choice due to the set of circumstances that he is in and weighs the ros and cons of an act that he/she knows is wrong. In this movie, Frank is faced with many choices due to different circumstances that all lead back to his first act of desperation. When his parents try and force him to choose between them, he instead runs away, staying in a hotel as he tries to get himself together. When he runs out of money, he is kicked out, leaving him with a dilemma.

How to get more money so he can live? There are many options open to him, but he chooses check fraud because not only does he see it as the easiest way to survive, but also the best way that he knows to get money. However, after his check is rejected, he turns instead to impersonating a Pan Am pilot after seeing one sign autographs to a small child outside the bank. After acquiring a uniform from the company by saying that he “lost” his, he forges his credentials and passports after he creates a fake, Pan Am Air salary check and successfully cashing it in.

His need for money to survive on his own drives these decisions to act on these illegal activities, outweighing the cost ne will end up paying for committing them. Part of the Rational Choice Theory is whatever techniques the criminal learns and perfects to avoid detection from authorities. Franks first run in with authority is when FBI Agent Carl Hanratty tracks him through his forged Pan Am bills toa hotel he was staying at. In Frank and Carl’s first meeting, Frank impersonates a Secret Service agent named Barry Allen (after The Flash) when confronted by Carl’s gun, convincing the agent long enough in order for him to escape.

After his close call, he retires to Georgia, where he impulsively convinces the hospital and town that he is a Harvard medical doctor after meeting a new, young nurse named Brenda, whom he ends up falling in love with. The branch that Frank as assigned to was chief doctor of the pediatric ward, where they don’t do much work. The motivation behind this was to get closer to Brenda, whom he had an attraction to when he first met her. His growing love for Brenda outweighs the consequences that come with impersonating a doctor, as well as the potential lives he’ll endanger under his care.

He also passes the bar exam to become a lawyer after Brenda introduces him to her parents as such. He eventually has to run again, however because both the firm and Carl are putting pressure on him. He assumes his pilot identity again. In the beginning of the film, with the game show, fake Frank 1 says that the reason he chose to pretend to be each of these professions was because he was young and needed money, and that, instead of actually trying to legally go through the training to BE a pilot, doctor, or lawyer was because it seemed easier than to go through all that trouble.

Another theory that I see present in this movie is Social Control Theory. Social Control Theory is when people commit illegal acts when the bindings of the society they live in are either weakened or broken. When we see Frank when he was ounger, he was in a good school living in a big house with his American veteran father and French mother. His father was a part of the rotary club and was inducted as a lifetime member, giving him great status in the community. However, he had problems with the IRS, and was denied a business loan. This led them to give up their house and move into a much smaller apartment.

While this isn’t considered illegal, Paula, Franks mother cheated on her husband, Frank Sr. , with his best friend and eventually filed for a divorce so she could marry his friend. This was largely due to the fact that she was used to living a larger life with Frank Sr. nd when they were forced to move because of money problems, she grew dissatisfied. When Frank Jr. finds out about the divorce, they try to get him to choose between two of them, he freaked out and ran away. This led to the decisions he would make in the future as his need for money to survive increased.

Some other elements of this, mainly the self-control portion, is also seen in this movie. There is a scene when he is pretending to be a doctor in Georgia when a little boy with an injured leg is brought in. Since he hasn’t the first clue as to how to fix the child’s leg, he talks his interns into oing it by using the language he heard off of a medical tv show before running off and throwing up in the sink of the bathroom. It was clear that he knew his boundaries in this role and, instead of making it worse and possibly endangering the child’s life, he had the people under him that actually had training in this fix the boys leg.

One thing that I could also see in the film was a form of Social Learning Theory. Social learning theory is when a criminal learns their trade by watching more experienced people’s actions. In one instance, his father was taking him to the bank and stopped by a tuxedo store. Even though the store was closed, his father managed to con the lady into opening the shop for them so that he could buy his son a suit to make him look presentable by presenting the woman with a necklace he had “found” outside in the parking lot.

Frank tried to use this same technique later, the first attempt, trying to cash his first forged check, was unsuccessful, but his second, tricking a flight while pretending to be a Pan Am pilot, was successful. Another element of this theory is when he decided to impersonate a Pan Am pilot. He studied as much as he could about the paychecks a pilot received, how much they make, even anaging to get a hold of an expired FFA license from a former pilot he was “interviewing for a school article” and the check template for their pay checks .

Elements of Neutralization Theory techniques are also in this movie. Neutralization Theory states that a criminal “must learn and master techniques that enable them to neutralize conventional values and attitudes, which enables them to drift back and forth between illegitimate and conventional behavior. ” Some of the elements of this theory include respect and admiration for honest, civilian people such as baseball layers, priests, teachers, or in this case, fathers.

Frank was always trying to make his father proud throughout the movie, sending him letters of his glamorized “accomplishments”, meeting his father for lunch in his pilot uniform, even giving his father an expensive car with the money he had “earned. ” Another person he looked up to was Carl Hanratty himself. He called Carl every Christmas, seeming to look up to him as a father fgure, even though Carl was trying to apprehend him. He even placed his complete trust in Carl when the agent finally caught up to him and placed im under arrest.

Another element of Neutralization Theory is when criminals of this nature conform to the same social obligations as the rest of society. Frank can be seen hosting a party at the house he lived in with many, many young, privileged people over, socializing with most all of them. There are also some small incidents of Social Reaction (Labeling) Theory in this movie. Social Reaction Theory “explains criminal careers in terms of stigma-producing encounters. ” One such encounter is after Frank quits being both a doctor and a lawyer and goes back to impersonating a Pan Am pilot.

He does a “follow up” interview with the former air pilot, and in this he learn that the press has found out about him and wrote about him in the paper. When he finds out they call him the Airway Man, the “James Bond of the Sky’, he goes out and watches one of the Bond movies in the theater. After this, he is inspired to go out and get an exact replica of the suit, even doing and almost exact impersonation of Bond in the film. This seems to boost his ego extremely high. In the end, however, he is caught by Carl in his mother’s hometown in France and is convinced to turn himself in.

He spends a few years in Perpignan Prison before Carl comes to get him. He is sick due to the living conditions, and fakes a faint in order to get out of the Jail cell and tries to escape. He is caught, however, and taken back to the USA, where, after two more attempted escapes, one where he is caught and the other when Carl confronts him but refuses to catch him, comes and works at the FBI in the check fraud unit under Carl’s supervision.

Cite this page

True Story of Frank Abagnale. (2018, Oct 15). Retrieved from

👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!

Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.

get help with your assignment