Orson Welles

April 7, 2011

Orson Welles

“Everyone will always owe him everything.” Jean-Luc Goddard. Welles goes in and out of fashion in film school. Much like Charlie Chaplin goes up and down in popularity. Snot nosed students don’t like to be told who the greatest or best were. Or disgruntled film professors (whose script about finding love in the corn fields of Iowa was never accepted by the Sundance Institute), will side with Pauline Kael that everything good in Citizen Kane was due to everyone but Welles. It goes without saying that D.P. Gregg Toland would instruct Welles how to move around like an old man when he tears up Susan Alexander’s room. That’s just common sense (I wish there was a sarcasm font). But lemme just say, everything Welles touched wasn’t gold, and I don’t worship him like others do. But give credit where it is due. He’s responsible for inspiring more people to become filmmakers than anyone else in cinema history (that’s right, even more than Cornel Wilde).

Citizen Kane – Do I need to say more? Ok, I will. I don’t call this the greatest film ever made, because I don’t think there’s such a thing. But it is the greatest debut ever made, and most probably ever will be made. If you don’t agree, that’s ok. It just means you’re wrong.
The Magnificent Ambersons – Except for the horribly re-shot ending by editor and future Oscar winning director Robert Wise. Also, I never liked Tim Holt’s performance. But Agnes “Endora” Moorehead did a stellar job.
The Stranger – Weird little movie with a super abrupt end (at least on the copy I saw). Probably the only Hollywood studio film he made that earned money.
The Lady from Shanghai – Supposedly being remade by Wong Kar Wai. Why Wai? Just cuz you were born in Shanghai, doesn’t mean you should remake it.
Touch Of Evil – Uncle Orson does his William (Louisville represent!) Conrad impression (well, that’s probably the other way around). Opening long take is sited in every film school around the world. The studio forced the cast on him and he did the best with what he had. Good stuff (although I was never a big fan of Chuckles Heston).
Chimes At Midnight– I hear it’s great, but it’s not available in the states. I have a European DVD of it, but haven’t stuck it in the multi-region player yet (I’m busy).
The Other Side of the Wind – Long rumored to be the greatest thing in the history of everything, (which means in reality it’s probably a steaming pile). This movie within a movie was supposed to be chock full of experimental filmmaking. I’ve seen a small clip from it, and read some about it. What I’ve seen ain’t pretty, but that’s mostly because Orson couldn’t afford a decent cinematographer. It was certainly before its time (way before anything Oliver Stone tried to do (lots of folks did things way before Oliver Stone)). But don’t worry, it’s locked in a vault somewhere ensnared in legal hassles. It will probably only see the light of day if a joint S.A.S./Navy Seal team rescues it. Until then, you can always enjoy “Uncle” Orson in his cameo in The Muppet Movie.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: