Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Night Editor-Orson Welles
Ed here: The last time I talked about Orson Welles I got into some trouble. A few readers of the blog felt that I was denigrating him when I said that he was not a martyr but frequently the cause of his own trouble. I cited a tape I'd heard of him from the 1970s in which he was reading copy for the wine company he then represented. The tape was of the recording session itself with Welles doing various takes on the copy. He didn't like the direction he was getting and became so abusive and angry it almost sounded like a gag. He went out of his way to insult the ad agency people. And he kept it up. He was being paid a lot of money. There wasn't a better way to handle it? Jake Hinson at The Night Editor speaks to this and other Wellesian issues in a fine piece he recently wrote.
By then, however, the money had dried up in Europe. Welles may have been a great artist, but he was never box office gold. He was barely box office bronze. He returned to America and took roles in films that were beneath him. He channeled the money back into his projects like THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, a drama featuring John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, and his buddy from his RKO days, JOURNEY INTO FEAR director Norman Foster.
He still dabbled in pulp and noir, too. He shot an adaptation of Charles Williams’s DEAD CALM called THE DEEP with Laurence Harvey, working on it until Harvey died. He planned an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s A HELL OF A WOMAN with director Gary Graver, but like almost all of his projects in the seventies and eighties, it had to be shelved for lack of funds. Hollywood, which had never liked Welles, had now forgotten him. He was old and broke in a town where only youth and money mattered. In 1985, at the age of 70, he died at home working on a script.
There is a heartbreaking bargain you have to make with Orson Welles. Much of his work—more than that of any other major director—comes to us in damaged shape. When you consider that he was making difficult films to begin with, the full picture begins to emerge.
Orson Welles was either too much of an artist or too much of an egomaniac—perhaps both—to ever fully commit to genre, even for the duration of a single film. He liked genre but viewed it as a beginning, a jumping off place. This was no less true for a thriller than for a Shakespeare adaptation. His instinct was to be, as he once angrily wrote Harry Cohn, “original, or at the least somewhat oblique.” Win or lose—and he lost often—his films were stamped with the conviction that cinema was an instrument of experimentation and poetry, not formula.
for the rest go here:http://thenighteditor.blogspot.com/2011/10/noir-of-orson-welles-part-v-rosebud.html