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Welles, Orson

WELLES, Orson



Nationality: American. Born: Kenosha, Wisconsin, 6 May 1916. Education: Attended Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois, 1926–31. Family: Married 1) Virginia Nicholson, 1934 (divorced 1939), one son; 2) Rita Hayworth, 1943 (divorced 1947), one daughter; 3) Paola Mori, 1955, one daughter. Career: Actor and director at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, 1931–34; debut on Broadway with Katherine Cornell's road company, also co-directed first film, 1934; collaborated with John Houseman for the Phoenix Theatre Group, 1935, later producer and director for Federal Theater Project; co-founder, with Houseman, Mercury Theatre Group, 1937; moved into radio with Mercury Theatre on the Air, 1938, including famous dramatization of H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, Halloween, 1938; given contract by RKO, 1939; directed feature debut, Citizen Kane, 1941; began documentary It's All True, 1942, then Welles and his staff were removed from RKO; directed The Lady from Shanghai for Columbia Studios, 1947; directed Macbeth for Republic Pictures, 1948; moved to Europe, 1949; completed only one more film in United States, Touch of Evil, 1958; appeared in advertisements, and continued to act, from 1960s. Awards: 20th Anniversary Tribute, Cannes Festival, 1966; Honorary Academy Award, for "Superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures," 1970; Life Achievement Award, American Film Institute, 1975; Fellowship of the British Film Institute, 1983. Died: In Hollywood, 10 October 1985.


Films as Director:

1934

The Hearts of Age (16mm short) (co-d)

1938

Too Much Johnson (+ co-pr, sc) (unedited, not shown publicly, destroyed in 1970 fire)

1941

Citizen Kane (+ pr, co-sc, role as Charles Foster Kane)

1942

The Magnificent Ambersons (+ pr, sc); It's All True (+ pr, co-sc) (not completed and never shown)

1943

Journey into Fear (co-d, uncredited, pr, co-sc, role as Colonel Haki)

1946

The Stranger (+ co-sc, uncredited, role as Franz Kindler, alias Professor Charles Rankin)

1948

The Lady from Shanghai (+ sc, role as Michael O'Hara) (produced in 1946); Macbeth (+ pr, sc, co-costumes, role as Macbeth)

1952

Othello (+ pr, sc, role as Othello and narration)

1955

Mr. Arkadin (Confidential Report) (+ sc, art d, costumes, role as Gregory Arkadin and narration); Don Quixote (+ co-pr, sc, asst ph, role as himself and narration) (not completed)

1958

Touch of Evil (+ sc, role as Hank Quinlan)

1962

Le Procès (The Trial) (+ sc, role as Hastler and narration)

1966

Chimes at Midnight (Falstaff) (+ sc, costumes, role as Sir John Falstaff)

1968

The Immortal Story (+ sc, role as Mr. Clay)

1970

The Deep (+ sc, role as Russ Brewer)

1972

The Other Side of the Wind (+ sc) (filming begun in 1972, uncompleted)

1975

F for Fake (+ sc)



Other Films:

1937

The Spanish Earth (Ivens) (original narration)

1940

Swiss Family Robinson (Ludwig) (off-screen narration)

1943

Jane Eyre (R. Stevenson) (role as Edward Rochester)

1944

Follow the Boys (Sutherland) (revue appearance with Marlene Dietrich)

1945

Tomorrow Is Forever (Pichel) (role as John McDonald)

1946

Duel in the Sun (Vidor) (off-screen narration)

1947

Black Magic (Ratoff) (role as Cagliostro)

1948

Prince of Foxes (role as Cesare Borgia)

1949

The Third Man (Reed) (role as Harry Lime)

1950

The Black Rose (Hathaway) (role as General Bayan)

1951

Return to Glennascaul (Edwards) (role as himself)

1953

Trent's Last Case (Wilcox) (role as Sigsbee Manderson); SiVersailles m'était conté (Guitry) (role as Benjamin Franklin); L'uomo, la bestia e la virtu (Steno) (role as the beast)

1954

Napoléon (Guitry) (role as Hudson Lowe); "Lord Mountdrago" segment of Three Cases of Murder (O'Ferrall) (role as Lord Mountdrago)

1955

Trouble in the Glen (Wilcox) (role as Samin Cejador y Mengues); Out of Darkness (documentary) (narrator)

1956

Moby Dick (Huston) (role as Father Mapple)

1957

Pay the Devil (Arnold) (role as Virgil Renckler); The LongHot Summer (Ritt) (role as Will Varner)

1958

The Roots of Heaven (Huston) (role as Cy Sedgwick); LesSeigneurs de la forêt (Sielman and Brandt) (off-screen narration); The Vikings (Fleischer) (narration)

1959

David e Golia (Pottier and Baldi) (role as Saul); Compulsion (Fleischer) (role as Jonathan Wilk); Ferry to Hong Kong (Gilbert) (role as Captain Hart); High Journey (Baylis) (off-screen narration); South Sea Adventure (Dudley) (off-screen narration)

1960

Austerlitz (Gance) (role as Fulton); Crack in the Mirror (Fleischer) (role as Hagolin/Lamorcière); I tartari (Thorpe) (role as Barundai)

1961

Lafayette (Dréville) (role as Benjamin Franklin); King ofKings (Ray) (off-screen narration); Désordre (short) (role)

1962

Der grosse Atlantik (documentary) (narrator)

1963

The V.I.P.s (Asquith) (role as Max Buda); Rogopag (Pasolini) (role as the film director)

1964

L'Echiquier de Dieu (La Fabuleuse Aventure de Marco Polo) (de la Patellière) (role as Ackermann); The Finest Hours (Baylis) (narrator)

1965

The Island of Treasure (J. Franco) (role); A King's Story (Booth) (narrator)

1966

Is Paris Burning? (Clément) (role); A Man for All Seasons (Zinnemann) (role as Cardinal Wolsey)

1967

Casino Royale (Huston and others) (role); The Sailor fromGibralter (Richardson) (role); I'll Never ForgetWhatshisname (Winner) (role)

1968

Oedipus the King (Saville) (role as Tiresias); Kampf um Rom (role as Emperor Justinian); The Southern Star (Hayers) (role)

1969

Tepepa (role); Barbed Water (documentary) (narrator); Unasu 13 (role); Michael the Brave (role); House of Cards (Guillermin) (role)

1970

Catch-22 (Nichols) (role as General Dweedle); Battle ofNeretva (Bulajia) (role); Start the Revolution without Me (Yorkin) (narrator); The Kremlin Letter (Huston) (role); Waterloo (Bondarchuk) (role as King Louis XVIII)

1971

Directed by John Ford (Bogdanovich) (narrator); Sentinels ofSilence (narrator); A Safe Place (Jaglom) (role)

1972

La Decade prodigieuse (role); Malpertius (role); I racconti diCanterbury (Pasolini) (role); Treasure Island (Hough) (role as Long John Silver); Get to Know Your Rabbit (De Palma) (role)

1973

Necromancy (Gordon) (role)

1975

Bugs Bunny Superstar (Jones) (narrator)

1976

Challenge of Greatness (documentary) (narrator); Voyage ofthe Damned (Rosenberg) (role)

1977

It Happened One Christmas (Thomas) (for TV) (role)

1979

The Late Great Planet Earth (on-camera narrator); The MuppetMovie (Frawley) (role as J. P. Morgan); Tesla (role as Yug)

1981

Butterfly (Cimber) (role as the judge); The Man Who SawTomorrow (Guenette) (role)

1984

Where Is Parsifal? (Helman) (role); Almonds and Raisins (Karel) (narrator)

1985

Genocide (Schwartzman) (narrator)

1987

Someone to Love (Jaglom) (role)



Publications


By WELLES: books—

Everybody's Shakespeare, New York, 1933; revised as The MercuryShakespeare, 1939.

The Trial (script), New York, 1970.

The Films of Orson Welles, by Charles Higham, Berkeley, 1970.

Citizen Kane, script, in The Citizen Kane Book, by Pauline Kael, New York, 1971.

This Is Orson Welles, with Peter Bogdanovich, New York, 1972.

Touch of Evil, edited by Terry Comito, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1985.

The Big Brass Ring: An Original Screenplay, with Oja Kodar, Santa Barbara, California, 1987.

Chimes at Midnight, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1988.


By WELLES: articles—

Preface to He That Plays the King, by Kenneth Tynan, New York, 1950.

Interview with Francis Koval, in Sight and Sound (London), December 1950.

"The Third Audience," in Sight and Sound (London), January-March 1954.

"For a Universal Cinema," in Film Culture (New York), January 1955.

Interviews with André Bazin and Charles Bitsch, in Cahiers duCinéma (Paris), June and September 1958.

"Conversation at Oxford," with Derrick Griggs, in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1960.

"Citizen Kane," in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), January 1962.

"Le Procès," in Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), February 1963.

Interview with Everett Sloane, in Film (London), no. 37, 1965.

"A Trip to Don Quixoteland: Conversations with Orson Welles," with Juan Cobos and others, in Cahiers du Cinéma in English (New York), June 1966.

Interview with Kenneth Tynan, in Playboy (Chicago), March 1967.

"First Person Singular," with Joseph McBride, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1971–72.

"Heart of Darkness," in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1972.

"Orson Welles par Orson Welles," in Positif (Paris), no. 418, December 1995.

"Le metteur en scène de thèâtre aujourd'hui," in Positif (Paris), no. 439, September 1997.


On WELLES: books—

Fowler, Roy A., Orson Welles, A First Biography, London, 1946.

Bazin, André, Orson Welles, Paris, 1950.

MacLiammóir, Micheál, Put Money in Thy Purse, London, 1952.

Noble, Peter, The Fabulous Orson Welles, London, 1956.

Bogdanovich, Peter, The Cinema of Orson Welles, New York, 1961.

Cowie, Peter, The Cinema of Orson Welles, London, 1965.

Bessy, Maurice, Orson Welles, New York, 1971.

Higham, Charles, The Films of Orson Welles, Berkeley, 1971.

Kael, Pauline, The Citizen Kane Book, New York, 1971.

Houseman, John, Run Through: A Memoir, New York, 1972.

McBride, Joseph, Orson Welles, London, 1972.

Bazin, André, Orson Welles: A Critical View, translated by Jonathan Rosenbaum, New York, 1978.

Naremore, J., The Magic World of Orson Welles, New York, 1978.

Valentinetti, Claudio M., Orson Welles, Florence, 1981.

Bergala, Alain, and Jean Narboni, editors, Orson Welles, Paris, 1982.

Andrew, Dudley, Film in the Aura of Art, Princeton, New Jersey, 1984.

Carringer, Robert L., The Making of Citizen Kane, Los Angeles, 1985.

Higham, Charles, Orson Welles: The Rise and Fall of an AmericanGenius, New York, 1985.

Leaming, Barbara, Orson Welles: A Biography, New York, 1985.

Parra, Danièle, and Jacques Zimmer, Orson Welles, Paris, 1985.

Taylor, John Russell, Orson Welles: A Celebration, London, 1986.

Brady, Frank, Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles, New York, 1989.

Wood, Bret, Orson Welles: A Bio-Bibliography, Westport, Connecticut, 1990.

Howard, James, The Complete Films of Orson Welles, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1991.

Callow, Simon, Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu, New York, 1995.

Caccia, Riccardo, Invito al cinema di Orson Welles, Milan, 1997.

Anderegg, Michael A., Orson Welles, Shakespeare, and PopularCulture, New York, 1999.

On WELLES: articles—

Cocteau, Jean, profile of Welles, in Cinémonde (Paris), 6 March 1950.

MacLiammóir, Micheál, "Orson Welles," in Sight and Sound (London), July-September 1954.

"L'Oeuvre d'Orson Welles," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), September 1958.

Gerasimov, Sergei, "All Is Not Welles," in Films and Filming (London), September 1959.

Stanbrook, Alan, "The Heroes of Welles," in Film (London), no. 28, 1961.

"Welles Issue" of Image et Son (Paris), no. 139, 1961.

Weinberg, Herman G., "The Legion of Lost Films," in Sight andSound (London), Autumn 1962.

Tyler, Parker, "Orson Welles and the Big Experimental Film Cult," in Film Culture (New York), Summer 1963.

Pechter, William, "Trials," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1963–64.

Johnson, William, "Orson Welles: Of Time and Loss," in FilmQuarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1967.

Daney, Serge, "Welles in Power," in Cahiers du Cinéma in English (New York), September 1967.

"Special Report: Orson Welles," in Action (Los Angeles), May-June 1969.

McBride, Joseph, "Welles before Kane," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1970.

Wilson, Richard, "It's Not Quite All True," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1970.

Henderson, Brian, "The Long Take," in Film Comment (New York), Summer 1971.

Prokosch, Mike, "Orson Welles," in Film Comment (New York), Summer 1971.

Goldfarb, Phyllis, "Orson Welles' Use of Sound," in Take One (Montreal), July-August 1971.

Coulouris, George, and Bernard Herrmann, "'The Citizen Kane Book,"' in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1972.

Cohen, H., "The Heart of Darkness in Citizen Kane," in CinemaJournal (Evanston), Fall 1972.

Goldfarb, Phyllis, "Heston on Welles," in Take One (Montreal), October 1972.

Hale, N., "Welles and the Logic of Death," in Film Heritage (New York), Fall 1974.

Gow, Gordon, "A Touch of Orson," in Films and Filming (London), December 1974.

"Hollywood Salutes its 'Maverick' Genius Orson Welles," special issue of American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), April 1975.

Brady, Frank, "The Lost Film of Orson Welles," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), November 1978.

McBride, Joseph, "All's Welles," in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1978.

Poague, Lee, "The Great God Orson: Chabrol's 'Ten Days' Wonder," in Film Criticism (Edinboro, Pennsylvania), no. 3, 1979.

Valentinetti, Claudio M., "Orson Welles," in Castoro Cinema (Milan), no. 83, 1980.

Neale, Steve, "Re-viewing Welles," in Screen (London), May-June 1982.

Houston, Beverle, "Power and Dis-integration in the Films of Orson Welles," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Summer 1982.

Weber, A., "Du citizen Welles au cinéma direct," in CinémAction (Conde-sur-Noireau), no. 23, November 1982.

McLean, A. M., "Orson Welles and Shakespeare: History and Consciousness in Chimes at Midnight," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 3, 1983.

Beja, M., "Where You Can't Get at Him: Orson Welles and the Attempt to Escape from Father," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), January 1985.

Strick, Philip, "Orson Welles," in Films and Filming (London), July 1985.

McCarthy, Todd, obituary, in Variety (London), 16 October 1985.

Kauffmann, Stanley, obituary, in New Republic (New York), 11 November 1985.

Stubbs, J. C., "The Evolution of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil from Novel to Film," in Cinema Journal (Champaign, Illinois), Winter 1985.

"Orson Welles Sections" of Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), November and December 1985.

Wood, Michael, "The Magnificent Orson," in American Film (New York), December 1985.

Maxfield, J., "A Man like Ourselves," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 3, 1986.

Harper, W. R., "Polanski v. Welles on Macbeth: Character or Fat?," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 4, 1986.

"Welles Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), January-February 1986.

Kehr, Dave, obituary, in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1986.

Traubery, L., "Celovek pervoj veliciny," in Iskusstvo Kino (Moscow), no. 4, April 1986.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan, "The Invisible Orson Welles," in Sight andSound (London), Summer 1986.

Gehler, F., "Orson Welles: Das Trauma von Rosebud," in Film undFernsehen (Berlin), vol. 14, no. 8, August 1986.

Bates, Robin, "Fiery Speech in a World of Shadows: Rosebud's Impact on Early Audiences," in Cinema Journal (Champaign, Illinois), vol. 26, no. 2, 1987.

Sartre, Jean-Paul, "Citizen Kane," in Post Script (Jacksonville, Florida), vol. 7, no. 1, 1987.

Anderegg, Michael, "Every Third Word a Lie: Rhetoric and History in Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1987.

Rodman, Howard A., "The Last Days of Orson Welles," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), June 1987.

France, Richard, "Orson Welles' First Film," in Films in Review (New York), August-September 1987.

Bywater, William, "The Desire for Embodiment in Orson Welles's Citizen Kane," in Post Script (Jacksonville, Florida), vol. 7, no. 2, 1988.

Jewell, Richard B., "Orson Welles, George Schaefer and It's AllTrue," in Film History (Philadelphia), vol. 2, no. 4, 1988.

Kalinak, Kathryn, "The Text of Music: A Study of The MagnificentAmbersons," in Cinema Journal (Champaign, Illinois), vol. 27, no. 4, 1988.

Perlmutter, Ruth, "Working with Welles: an Interview with Henry Jaglom," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1988.

Stainton, A., "Don Quixote: Orson Welles' Secret," in Sight andSound (London), Autumn 1988.

White, Armond, "Wishing Welles," in Film Comment (New York), October 1988.

"Orson Welles Issue" of Persistence of Vision (Maspeth, New York), no. 7, 1989.

Norcen, L., "Orson Welles e la scena della negazione," in CinemaNuovo (Rome), vol. 38, no. 319, May-June 1989.

Vidal, Gore, "Remembering Orson Welles," in New York Review ofBooks, 1 June 1989.

Nielsen, N. A., "Et allerhelvedes perspektiv," in Kosmorama (Copenhagen), vol. 35, no. 189, Autumn 1989.

Bywater, W., "The Visual Pleasure of Patriarchal Cinema: Welles' 'Touch of Evil,"' Film Criticism, vol. 14, no. 3, 1990.

Lezcano, A., "Un genio llamando Orson Welles," in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 130, 1990.

Simon, W. G. "Welles: Baktin: Parody," in Quarterly Review ofFilm and Video (Langhorne, PA), vol. 12, no. 1–2, May 1990.

Thomas, F. "Orson Welles," in Positif (Paris), January 1991.

Naremore, James, "The Trial: The FBI vs. Orson Welles," in FilmComment (New York), January-February 1991.

Andrew, G., "Reel Life," in Time Out (London), no. 1089, 3 July 1991.

Saada, N. "Les trésors de Welles," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 447, September 1991.

Hogue, Peter, "The Friends of Kane," in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1991.

Jameson, Richard T., "Cries and Whispers," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1992.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan, "The Seven Arkadins," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1992.

Berthome, J.-P., and others, in Positif (Paris), special section, no. 378, July-August 1992.

Cramer, B., "The Restored 'Othello,"' Films in Review, July-August 1992.

McBride, Joseph, "The Last Kingdom of Orson Welles," in NewYork Review of Books, 13 May 1993.

Niogret, H. "Du pirate au vampire. Orson Welles," in Positif (Paris), no. 379, September 1992.

Rosenbaum, J. and Philip Kemp, "Improving Mr. Welles. Perplexed in the Extreme," in Sight and Sound (London), vol. 2, no. 6, October 1992.

Timm, M., "Orson Welles van ingen martyr!," in Chaplin (Stockholm), vol. 35, no. 3, 1993.

Timm, M., T. Hansen, and P. Bogdanovich, in Chaplin (Stockholm), vol. 35, no. 3, Summer 1993.

Purtell, Tim, "The Genius Nobody Wanted," in EntertainmentWeekly, 8 October 1993.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), special section, no. 475, January 1994.

Combs, Richard, "Burning Masterworks," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1994.

Aumont, Jacques, "L'ombre et la couleur: Une histoire immortelle," in Cinémathèque (Paris), no. 5, Spring 1994.

DeBona, G., "Into Africa: Orson Welles and Heart of Darkness," in Cinema Journal (Austin), vol. 33, no. 3, Spring 1994.

Garcia, Maria, "Re-inventing Orson Welles," in Films in Review (New York), vol. 45, no. 5–6, May-June 1994.

Lapinski, Stan, "Contouren van het Welles-universum," in Skrien (Amsterdam), no. 196, June-July 1994.

La Rochelle, Réal, "Welles/Herrmann. Passage de la radio au cinéma," in 24 Images (Montreal), no. 73–74, September-October 1994.

Hall, John W. "Touch of Psycho? Hitchcock's Debt to Welles," in Bright Lights (Cincinnati), no. 14, 1995.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan, and Bill Krohn, "Orson Welles in the U.S.: An Exchange," in Persistence of Vision (Maspeth, New York), no. 11, 1995.

Brandlmeier, Thomas, "Die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies," in EPDFilm (Frankfurt), vol. 12, no. 3, March 1995.

Lapinski, Stan, "Kroniek. De mist verdrijven," in Skrien (Amsterdam), no. 206, February-March 1996.

Scorsese, Martin, "Ma cinéphilie," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 500, March 1996.


On WELLES: films—

Citizen Kane: The Fiftieth Anniversary, 1991.

Orson Welles: What Went Wrong?, 1992.


* * *

References to Orson Welles as one of America's most influential directors and Citizen Kane as one of the great American films have become a simplistic way to encapsulate Welles's unique contribution to cinema. It is a contribution that seems obvious but is difficult to adequately summarize without examining his complex career.

Welles began as an actor in Ireland at Dublin's famous Gate Theater, bluffing his way into the theater's acting troupe by claiming to be well-known on the Broadway stage. He began directing plays in New York, and worked with John Houseman in various theatrical groups. At one point they attempted to stage Marc Blitzstein's leftist, pro-labor The Cradle Will Rock for the Federal Theatre Project, but government agents blocked the opening night's production. Performers and audience subsequently moved to another theater, and the events surrounding the performance became one of Broadway's most famous episodes. The incident led to Houseman being fired and Welles's resignation from the Project.

Houseman and Welles then formed the Mercury Theatre Group, armed with a manifesto written by Houseman declaring their intention to foster new talent, experiment with new types of plays, and appeal to the same audiences that frequented the Federal Theater plays. Welles's work on the New York stage was generally leftist in its political orientation, and, inspired by the expressionist theater of the 1920s, prefigured the look of his films.

Welles and his Mercury Theater Group expanded into radio as the Mercury Theater on the Air. In contrast to most theater-oriented shows on radio, which consisted merely of plays read aloud, the Mercury group adapted their works in a more natural, personal manner: most of the plays were narrated in the first person. Shrewd imitations of news announcements and technical breakdowns heightened the realism of his 1938 Halloween War of the Worlds broadcast to such a degree that the show has become famous for the panic it caused among its American listeners, a number of which thought that New Jersey was actually being invaded by Martians. This event itself has become a pop culture legend, shrouded in exaggeration and half-truths.

RKO studios hired Welles in 1939, hoping he could repeat the success on film for them that he had enjoyed on stage and in radio. Welles, according to most sources, accepted the job because his Mercury Theater needed money to produce an elaborate production called 5 Kings, an anthology of several of Shakespeare's plays. Whatever the reason, his contract with RKO began an erratic and rocky relationship with the Hollywood industry that would, time and again, end in bitter disappointment for Welles. The situation eventually led him to begin a self-imposed exile in Europe.

The film on which Welles enjoyed the most creative freedom was his first and most famous, Citizen Kane. At the time the film created a controversy over both its subject matter and style. Loosely based on the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the film supposedly upset Hearst to such a degree that he attempted to stop the production, and then the distribution and exhibition. In the end, his anger was manifested in the scathing reviews critics gave the film in all his newspapers. The film's innovative structure, which included flashbacks from the differing points-of-view of the various characters, in addition to other formal devices so different from the classic Hollywood cinema, also contributed to Kane's financial failure and commercial downfall, though critics other than those employed at Hearst's papers generally gave the film positive reviews.

Other controversies surrounded the film as well, including one over scriptwriting credit. Originally, Welles claimed solo credit for writing the film, but the Writer's Guild forced him to acknowledge Herman Mankiewicz as co-author. Each writer's exact contributions remain unknown, but the controversy was revived during the early 1970s by critic Pauline Kael, who attempted to prove that Mankiewicz was most responsible for the script. Whatever the case, the argument becomes unimportant and even ludicrous given the unique direction which shapes the material, and which is undeniably Welles's.

Due to the failure of Kane, Welles was supervised quite closely on his next film, The Magnificent Ambersons. After shooting was completed, Welles went to South America to begin work on a documentary, It's All True, designed to help dispel Nazi propaganda in Latin America. He took a rough cut of Ambersons with him, hoping to coordinate cutting with editor Robert Wise. A sneak preview of Welles's Ambersons proved disastrous, however, and the studio cut his 140-minute-plus version to eighty-eight minutes and added a "happy ending." The film was a critical and commercial failure, and the entire Mercury staff was removed from the RKO lot.

Welles spent the remainder of his Hollywood career sparring with various producers or studios over the completed versions of his films and his uncredited direction on films in which he starred. For example, Journey into Fear was begun by Welles but finished by Norman Foster, though Welles claims he made contributions and suggestions throughout. Jane Eyre, which made Welles a popular star, was directed by Robert Stevenson, but the gothic overtones, the mise-en-scène, and other stylistic devices suggest a Wellesian contribution. With The Stranger, directed for Sam Spiegel, he adhered closely to the script and a preplanned editing schedule, evidently determined to prove that he could turn out a Hollywood product on time and on budget. Welles, though, subsequently referred to The Stranger as "the worst of my films," and several Welles scholars agree.

Welles directed one of his best films, The Lady from Shanghai, for Harry Cohn of Columbia. The film, a loose, confusing, noirish tale of double-crosses and corrupted innocence, starred Welles's wife at the time, Rita Hayworth. Cohn, who was supposedly already dissatisfied with their marriage because he felt it would reduce Hayworth's boxoffice value, was furious at Welles for the image she presented inShanghai. The film, shot mostly on location, was made under stressful circumstances, with Welles often re-writing during the shooting. It was edited several times and finally released two years after its completion, but failed commercially and critically. His final Hollywood project, a version of Macbeth for Republic Studios, was also considered a commercial flop.

Disenchanted with Hollywood, Welles left for Europe, where he began the practice of acting in other directors' films in order to finance his own projects. His portrayal of Harry Lime in Carol Reed's The Third Man is considered his finest work from this period, and Welles continued to create villainous antagonists who are often more interesting, complex, or exciting than the protagonists of the films. In the roles of Col. Haki in Journey into Fear, Will Varner in Martin Ritt's The Long Hot Summer, Quinlan in Touch of Evil, and in Mr. Arkadin, Welles created a sinister persona for which he has become as famous as for his direction of Citizen Kane. His last roles were often caricatures of that persona, as in Marlo Thomas's It Happened One Christmas, or parodies as in The Muppet Movie. Welles's European ventures include his Othello, shot over a period of years between acting assignments, often under chaotic circumstances. The difficulties of the film's production are often described as though they were the madcap adventures of a roguish artist, but in reality it must have been an extreme hardship to assemble and reassemble the cast over the course of the film's shooting. At one point, he "borrowed" equipment under cover of night from the set of Henry King's The Black Rose (in which Welles was starring) to quickly shoot a few scenes. Welles later obtained enough financial backing to make Mr. Arkadin, a Kane-like story of a powerful man who made his fortune as a white slaver, and Chimes at Midnight. Welles returned to America in the late 1950s to direct Touch of Evil, starring Charlton Heston. Originally approached only to star in the film, Welles mistakenly thought he was also to direct. Heston intervened and insisted he be allowed to do so. Welles immediately threw out the original script, rewriting it without reading the book, Badge of Evil, upon which the script was based. Welles's last works include The Immortal Story, a one-hour film made for French television, and F for Fake, a strange combination of documentary footage shot by another director, some Welles footage from earlier ventures, and Welles's own narration.

Welles's outsider status in connection with the American film industry is an interesting part of cinema history in itself, but his importance as a director is due to the innovations he introduced through his films and the influence they have had on filmmaking and film theory. Considering the turbulent relationship Welles experienced with Hollywood and the circumstances under which his films were made in Europe, it is surprising there is any thematic and stylistic consistency in his work at all.

The central character in many of his films is often a powerful, egotistical man who lives outside or above the law and society. Kane, Arkadin, and Mr. Clay (The Immortal Story) are enabled to do so by their wealth and position; Quinlan (Touch of Evil) by his job as a law enforcer, which allows him to commit injustices to suit his own purposes. Even George Minafer (Ambersons) becomes an outsider as a modern, industrialized society supersedes his aristocratic, nineteenth-century way of life. These characters are never innocent, but seem to be haunted by an innocence they have lost. Kane's "Rosebud," the emblem of childhood that he clings to, is the classic example, but this theme can also be found in Mr. Arkadin, where Arkadin is desperate to keep his daughter from discovering his sordid past. Many parallels between the two films have been drawn, including the fact that the title characters are both wealthy and powerful men whose past lives are being investigated by a stranger. Interestingly, just as Kane whispers "rosebud" on his deathbed, Arkadin speaks his daughter's name at the moment of his death. Quinlan, in Touch of Evil, is confronted with his memories and his past when he runs into Tanya, now a prostitute in a whorehouse. The ornaments and mementoes in her room (some of them from Welles's personal collection), seem to jog his memory of a time when he was not a corrupt law official. In Shanghai, it is interesting to note that Welles does not portray the egotist, Bannister, but instead the "innocent" Michael O'Hara, who is soiled by his dealings with Bannister's wife. That the corrupt antagonist is doomed is often indicated by a prologue or introductory sequence which foreshadows his destruction—the newsreel sequence in Kane; the pening montage of Ambersons, which condenses eighteen years of George Minafer's life into ten minutes to hint that George will get his "comeuppance" in the end; the opening funeral scene of Othello; and the detailing of Mr. Clay's sordid past in The Immortal Story. The themes of lost innocence and inescapable fate often shroud Welles's films with a sense of melancholy, which serves to make these characters worthy of sympathy.

Much has been made of Welles's use of deep-focus photography, particularly in Kane and Ambersons. Though a directorial presence is often suggested in the cinema through the use of editing, with Welles it is through mise-en-scène, particularly in these two films. Many Welles scholars discuss the ambiguous nature of long-shot/deep-focus photography, where the viewer is allowed to sift through the details of a scene and make some of his own choices about what is important to the narrative, plot development, and so on. However, Welles's arrangement of actors in specific patterns; his practice of shooting from unusual angles; and his use of wide-angle lenses, which distort the figures closest to them, are all intended to convey meaning. For example, the exaggerated perspective of the scene where Thatcher gives young Charles Kane a sled makes Thatcher appear to tower over the boy, visually suggesting his unnatural and menacing hold on him (at least from young Kane's point of view).

Welles also employed rather complex sound tracks in Kane and Ambersons, perhaps a result of his radio experience. The party sequence of Ambersons, for example, makes use of overlapping dialogue as the camera tracks along the ballroom, as though one were passing by, catching bits of conversation.

Welles's visual style becomes less outrageous and less concerned with effects as his career continued. There seems to be an increasing concentration on the acting in his latter works, particularly in the Shakespeare films. Welles had a lifelong interest in Shakespeare and his plays, and is well known for his unique handling and interpretations of the material. Macbeth, for example, was greatly simplified, with much dialogue omitted and scenes shifted around. A primitive feel is reflected by badly synchronized sound, and much of the impact of the spoken word is lost. Othello, shot in Italy and Morocco, makes use of outdoor locations in contrast to the staginess of Macbeth. Again, Welles was quite free with interpretation: Iago's motives, for example, are suggested to be the result of sexual impotency. His most successful adaptation of Shakespeare is Chimes at Midnight, an interpretation of the Falstaff story with parts taken from Henry IV, parts one and two, Henry V, Merry Wives of Windsor, and Richard II. In Chimes, Falstaff, as with many of Welles's central characters, is imprisoned by the past. Like George Minafer, he straddles two ages, one medieval and the other modern. Falstaff is destroyed not only by the aging process but also by the problems of being forced into a new world, as is Minafer (and perhaps Kane). Again Welles is quite individualistic in his presentation of the material, making Falstaff a true friend to the king and an innocent, almost childlike, victim of a new order.

In the years before he died, Welles became known for his appearances in television commercials and on talk shows, playing the part of the celebrity to its maximum. His last role was as a narrator on an innovative episode of the television detective series Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. It is unfortunate that his latter-day persona as a bon vivant often overshadows his contributions to the cinema.

—Susan Doll

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Welles, Orson

WELLES, Orson



Nationality: American. Born: George Orson Welles in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 6 May 1915. Education: Attended Todd School for Boys, Woodstock, Illinois, 1926–31. Family: Married 1) Virginia Nicholson, 1934 (divorced 1939), daughter: Christopher; 2) the actress Rita Hayworth, 1943 (divorced 1947), daughter: Rebecca; 3) the actress Paola Mori, 1955, daughter: Beatrice. Career: 1931—professional acting debut at the Gate Theatre in Dublin; 1934—Broadway debut with Katherine Cornell, performed in his own film short, played McGafferty at the Phoenix Theatre, and began his radio career, e.g., as "The Shadow"; 1937—played title role in Mercury Production of Julius Caesar; 1938—broadcast "The War of the Worlds"; 1939—RKO contract to act in and produce The Green Goddess for the RKO Vaudeville Circuit; 1941—played title role in and directed Citizen Kane; 1940s—returned to radio and theater, toured military bases with his magic show, "Mercury Wonder Show," continued to star in his own productions, and began appearing in films directed by others; 1949—moved to Europe; 1955—two series for BBC TV, The Orson Welles Sketchbook and The World with Orson Welles; 1950s and 1960s—starred in his own films, appeared in films directed by others, appeared on TV and in the theater; 1970—moved back to America; 1970s and 1980s—appeared in films, on TV, and in commercials, including role as narrator for TV mini-series Shogun, 1980, and occasional role as voice of Robin Masters in TV series Magnum P.I., 1981–85. Awards: Academy Award, Best Screenplay, for Citizen Kane, 1941; 20th Anniversary Tribute, Cannes Film Festival, 1966; Honorary Oscar, for "superlative and distinguished service in the making of motion pictures," 1970; inducted into the French Legion of Honor, 1972; Life Achievement Award, American Film Institute, 1975; Los Angeles Film Critics Career Achievement Award, 1978; inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, 1979; Fellowship of the British Film Institute, 1983; D. W. Griffith Award, Directors Guild of America, 1984. Died: Of heart attack, in Hollywood, 10 October 1985.


Films as Actor:

1943

Jane Eyre (Stevenson) (as Edward Rochester)

1944

Follow the Boys (Sutherland) (revue appearance)

1945

Tomorrow Is Forever (Pichel) (as John McDonald)

1949

The Third Man (Reed) (as Harry Lime); Black Magic (Ratoff) (as Cagliostro); Prince of Foxes (Henry King) (as Cesare Borgia)

1950

The Black Rose (Hathaway) (as General Bayan)

1951

Return to Glennascaul (Edwards) (as himself)

1953

Trent's Last Case (Wilcox) (as Sigsbee Manderson); Si Versailles m'était conté (Affairs in Versailles; Royal Affairs in Versailles) (Guitry) (as Benjamin Franklin); L'Uomo la Bestia e la Virtù (Man Beast and Virtue) (Vanzina) (as the beast); King Lear (Brook—for TV) (title role)

1954

Napoleon (Guitry) (as Gen. Hudson Lowe); Trouble in the Glen (Wilcox) (as Samin Cejador y Mengues)

1955

"Lord Mountdrago" ep. of Three Cases of Murder (O'Ferrall) (as Lord Mountdrago)

1956

Moby Dick (Huston) (as Father Mapple)

1957

Man in the Shadow (Pay the Devil) (Arnold) (as Virgil Renckler)

1958

The Long Hot Summer (Ritt) (as Will Varner); The Roots of Heaven (Huston) (as Cy Sedgwick)

1959

David e Golia (David and Goliath) (Pottier and Baldi) (as King Saul); Compulsion (Fleischer) (as Jonathan Wilk); Ferry to Hong Kong (Lewis Gilbert) (as Captain Hart)

1960

Austerlitz (Battle of Austerlitz) (Gance) (as Robert Fulton); Crack in the Mirror (Fleischer) (as Hagolin/Lamorciere); I Tartari (The Tartars) (Thorpe) (as Barundai)

1961

Lafayette (Dreville) (as Benjamin Franklin); Desordre (short)

1963

The V.I.P.s (Asquith) (as Max Buda); "La Ricotta" ep. of Rogopag (Laviamoci il Cervello; Let's Have a Brainwash) (Pasolini) (as the film director)

1964

La Fabuleuse Aventure de Marco Polo (Marco the Magnificent) (de la Patelliere and Noel Howard) (as Ackermann)

1965

The Island of Treasure (Franco)

1966

A Man for All Seasons (Zinnemann) (as Cardinal Wolsey); Paris brûle-t-il? (Is Paris Burning?) (Clément)

1967

Casino Royale (McGrath and Huston) (as Le Chiffre); The Sailor from Gibraltor (Richardson) (as Louis Mozambique); I'll Never Forget What's 'is Name (Winner) (as Jonathan Lute); Oedipus the King (Saville) (as Tiresias)

1968

House of Cards (Guillermin) (as Claude Leschenhaut); Kampf um Rom (Fight for Rome) (Siodmak) (as Emperor Justinian)

1969

Michael the Brave (Nicolaescu); L'Etoile de Sud (The Southern Star) (Hayers) (as Plankett); Tepepa (Petroni); Twelve Plus One (Gessner) (as Markau); Mihai Viteazu (Nicolaescu); Kampf um Rom II (Fight for Rome II); Una su 13

1970

Catch-22 (Mike Nichols) (as General Dreedle); The Battle of Neretva (Bulajic) (as Senator); Waterloo (Bondarchuk) (as King Louis XVIII); Upon This Rock (Rasky); The Kremlin Letter (Huston) (as Aleksei Bresnavitch)

1971

A Safe Place (Jaglom) (as the Magician); The Toy Factory (Gordon); I Racconti di Canterbury (The Canterbury Tales) (Pasolini); To Kill a Stranger (Collinson)

1972

Get to Know Your Rabbit (De Palma) (as Mr. Delasandro); La Décade prodigieuse (Ten Days' Wonder) (Chabrol) (as Theo Van Horn); Sutjeska (Delic); Malpertuis (Kumel) (as Cassavius); Treasure Island (Hough and Bianchi) (as Long John Silver, + sc); Necromancy (The Witching) (Gordon) (as Mr. Cato); The Man Who Came to Dinner (Kilik) (as Sheridan Whiteside—for TV)

1975

And Then There Were None (Collinson) (as voice of himself)

1976

Voyage of the Damned (Rosenberg) (as Estedes)

1977

It Happened One Christmas (Thomas—for TV)

1978

Hot Tomorrows (Brest) (as voice of Parklawn Mortuary)

1979

Never Trust an Honest Thief (McCowan); Tajna Nikole Tesle (The Secret of Nicola Tesla; Tesla) (Papic) (as J. P. Morgan); The Muppet Movie (Frawley) (as Lord Lew)

1982

Butterfly (Cimber) (as Judge Rauch); The Muppets Take Manhattan (Oz)

1983

Where Is Parsifal? (Helman) (as Klingsor); In Our Hands (Richer and Warnow)

1984

Slapstick of Another Kind (Paul) (as voice of Alien Father)

1986

The Transformers: The Movie (Shin and Morishita) (as voice of Planet Unicron)

1987

Someone to Love (Jaglom) (as Danny's friend)



Films as Narrator:

1937

The Spanish Earth (Ivens—doc)

1940

Swiss Family Robinson (Ludwig)

1946

Duel in the Sun (King Vidor)

1955

Out of Darkness (doc)

1958

Les Seigneurs de la Forêt (Masters of the Congo Jungle) (Sielman and Brandt); The Vikings (Fleischer)

1959

High Journey (Baylis); South Sea Adventure (Dudley)

1961

King of Kings (Nicholas Ray)

1962

Der grosse Atlantik (doc)

1964

The Finest Hours (Baylis—doc)

1967

A King's Story (Booth—doc)

1969

Barbed Water (doc)

1970

To Build a Fire (Cobham); A Horse Called Nijinsky; Start the Revolution without Me (Yorkin)

1971

Directed by John Ford (Bogdanovich—doc); Sentinels of Silence (Amram—doc); Happiness in Twenty Years

1972

The Crucifixion (Guenette)

1975

Bugs Bunny Superstar (Larry E. Jackson)

1976

Challenge of Greatness (The Challenge) (Kline)

1978

A Woman Called Moses (Wendkos—for TV)

1979

The Late Great Planet Earth (Amram—doc); The Double McGuffin (Camp)

1981

Genocide (Schwartzman); The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (Guenette)

1982

History of the World, Part One (Mel Brooks)

1983

Almonds and Raisins (Karel)



Films as Director:

1934

The Hearts of Age (16mm short) (co-d with Vance, + ro)

1938

Too Much Johnson (16mm short) (+ sc, co-pr) (unreleased)

1941

Citizen Kane (+ ro as Charles Foster Kane, pr, co-sc)

1942

The Magnificent Ambersons (+ ro as narrator, pr, sc); It's All True (semi—doc) (co-d with Norman Foster, + co-sc, pr) (not completed—released in 1993 with added footage)

1943

Journey into Fear (co-d [uncredited] with Norman Foster, + ro as Colonel Haki, pr, co-sc)

1946

The Stranger (+ ro as Franz Kindler/Professor Charles Rankin, co-sc [uncredited])

1948

The Lady from Shanghai (+ ro as Michael O'Hara, sc); Macbeth (+ title role, pr, sc)

1952

Othello (+ title role, pr, sc)

1955

Mr. Arkadin (Confidential Report) (+ ro as Gregory Arkadin, story, sc, art d, cost); Don Quixote (+ ro as himself, co-pr, sc) (not completed)

1956

Fountain of Youth (TV pilot) (+ ro as the host)

1958

Touch of Evil (+ ro as Hank Quinlan, sc)

1962

Le Procès (The Trial) (+ ro as Advocate Hastler, sc)

1966

Campanadas a Medianoche (Chimes at Midnight; Falstaff) (+ ro as Sir John Falstaff, sc, cost)

1968

Une Histoire immortelle (The Immortal Story) (for TV) (+ ro as Mr. Clay, sc)

1969

The Deep (+ ro as Russ Brewer, sc) (unreleased)

1970

The Other Side of the Wind (+ sc) (not completed)

1975

F for Fake (Vérités et mengsonges; About Fakes; Nothing but the Truth) (+ ro as himself, sc) (add'l footage by Reichenbach)



Publications


By WELLES: books—

Everybody's Shakespeare, New York, 1933; revised as The Mercury Shakespeare, 1939.

The Trial (script), New York, 1970.

This Is Orson Welles, with Peter Bogdanovich, New York, 1972.

Touch of Evil, edited by Terry Comito, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1985.

Chimes at Midnight, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1988.


By WELLES: articles—

The Director in the Theatre Today, Theatre Education League, 1939.

Interview with Francis Koval, in Sight and Sound (London), December 1950.

"The Third Audience," in Sight and Sound (London), January/March 1954.

Interviews with Andre Bazin and Charles Bitsch, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June and September 1958.

"Conversation at Oxford," with Derrick Griggs, in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1960.

Interview with Everett Sloane, in Film (London), no. 37, 1965.

"A Trip to Don Quixoteland: Conversations with Orson Welles," with Juan Cobos and others, in Cahiers du Cinema in English (New York), June 1966.

"Welles and Falstaff," interview with Juan Cobos and others, in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1966.

"Welles on Falstaff," Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), Summer 1967.

"Heart of Darkness," in Film Comment (New York), December 1972.


On WELLES: books—

Fowler, Roy, Orson Welles: A First Biography, London, 1946.

MacLiammoir, Micheal, Put Money in Thy Purse, London, 1952.

Noble, Peter, The Fabulous Orson Welles, London, 1956.

Houseman, John, Run-Through: A Memoir, New York, 1972.

France, Richard, The Theater of Orson Welles, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, 1977.

McBride, Joseph, Orson Welles, Actor and Director, New York, 1977.

Bazin, Andre, Orson Welles: A Critical View, translated by Jonathan Rosenbaum, New York, 1978.

Naremore, James, The Magic World of Orson Welles, New York, 1979; rev. ed., Dallas, Texas, 1989.

Carringer, Robert, The Making of Citizen Kane, Los Angeles, 1985.

Leaming, Barbara, Orson Welles: A Biography, New York, 1985.

Brady, Frank, Citizen Welles, New York, 1989.

France, Richard, editor, Orson Welles: On Shakespeare, New York, 1990.

Wood, Bret, Orson Welles: A Bio-Bibliography, Westport, Connecticut, 1990.

Howard, James, The Complete Films of Orson Welles, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1991.

Beja, Morris, editor, Perspectives on Orson Welles, New York, 1995.

Callow, Simon, Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu, London, 1995.

Thomson, David, Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles, New York, 1996.

Thieme, Claudia, F for Fake: And the Growth in Complexity of Orson Welles' Documentary Form, New York, 1997.

Anderegg, Michael, Orson Welles, Shakespeare, and Popular Culture, New York, 1999.

Taylor, John Russell, Orson Welles, New York, 2000.


On WELLES: articles—

Lindley, D., "He Has the Stage," in Colliers (New York), 29 January 1938.

Maloney, Russell, "Orson Welles," in New Yorker, 5 October 1938.

Johnson, Alva, and Fred Smith, "How to Raise a Child," in Saturday Evening Post (New York), no. 212, 20 January 1940, 27 January 1940, and 3 February 1940.

"Orson at War," in Time (New York), 30 November 1942.

"Actor Turns Columnist," in Time (New York), 29 January 1945.

"Welles: Young Man of 1,000 Faces," in Cue, 29 June 1946.

Hamburger, P., "Television: Omnibus Presentation of King Lear," in New Yorker, 31 October 1953.

MacLiammoir, Micheal, "Orson Welles," in Sight and Sound (London), July/September 1954.

Harvey, E., "TV Imports," in Colliers (New York), 14 October 1955.

"Orson Welles's Lear," in Newsweek (New York), 23 January 1956.

Lewis, T., "Theatre: Welles as King Lear," in America (New York), 28 January 1956.

Adams, Val, "News of TV and Radio," in New York Times, 15 December 1957.

Tynan, Kenneth, "Orson Welles," in Show (London), October 1961 and November 1961.

Current Biography 1965, New York, 1965.

Archer, Eugene, "Orson Welles: Boy Genius Turns 50," in New York Times, 18 April 1965.

Morgenstern, J., and R. Sokolov, "Falstaff as Orson Welles," in Newsweek (New York), 27 March 1967.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan, "The Invisible World of Orson Welles: A First Inventory," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1968.

McBride, Joseph, "Welles' Chimes at Midnight," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1969.

McBride, Joseph, "Welles before Kane," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1970.

Wilson, Richard, "It's Not Quite True," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1970.

McBride, Joseph, "First Person Singular," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1970/71.

Wilson, Richard, "Reply to Higham's It's All True," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1970/71.

"The Cinema of Orson Welles," program by the National Film Theatre (London), 1972.

Smith, Cecil, "Orson Welles: The Perpetual Who Came to Dinner," in Los Angeles Times, 28 November 1972.

Gilling, Ted, interview with George Coulouris, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1973.

"Orson Welles," Life Award Ceremony Program, American Film Institute, 1975.

"Welles" issue of Positif (Paris), March 1975.

McBride, Joseph, "The Other Side of Orson Welles," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), July-August 1976.

Smith, Cecil, "Orson Welles on Early TV: Pilot Tried before Its Time," in Los Angeles Times, Calendar, 9 August 1981.

McLean, A. M., "Orson Welles and Shakespeare: History and Consciousness in Chimes at Midnight," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 3, 1983.

Leaming, Barbara, "The Genius Takes On Tinseltown," in Playboy, vol. 30, December 1983.

Pells, Richard, "The Radical Stage and the Hollywood Film in the 1930s," in Radical Visions and American Dreams, Middletown, Connecticut, 1984.

Belcher, Jerry, obituary in Los Angeles Times, 11 October 1985.

McCarthy, Todd, obituary in Daily Variety (New York), 11 October 1985.

Obituary in New York Times, 11 October 1985.

O'Brien, Geoffrey, "A Touch of Ego," in The Village Voice (New York), 15 October 1985.

"Orson Welles's Revolution Is Still in Progress," in New York Times, 20 October 1985.

Kauffman, Stanley, obituary in New Republic (New York), 11 November 1985.

Rodman, Howard, "The Last Days of Orson Welles," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), June 1987.

France, Richard, "Orson Welles' First Film," in Films in Review (New York), August/September 1987.

Perlmutter, Ruth, "Working with Welles: An Interview with Henry Jaglom," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1988.

Simon, William, editor, Special "Welles" issue of Persistence of Vision (New York), no. 7, 1989.

Naremore, James, "The Trial: The FBI vs. Orson Welles," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1991.

McBride, Joseph, "The Lost Kingdom of Orson Welles," in New York Review of Books, 13 May 1993.

Charity, Tom, "All Very Welles," in Time Out (London), no. 1210, 27 October 1993.

Combs, Richard, "Burning Masterworks: From Kane to F for Fake," in Film Comment (New York), vol. 30, no. 1, January-February 1994.

Garcia, Maria, "Re-inventing Orson Welles," in Films in Review (New York), vol. 45, no. 5–6, May-June 1994.

Hall, John W., "Touch of Psycho?: Hitchcock's Debt to Welles," in Bright Lights (Cincinnati), no. 14, 1995.

Hogan, David J., "Orson Welles' Ghost Story," in Filmfax (Evanston), no. 50, May-June 1995.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan, and Bill Krohn, "Orson Welles in the U.S.: An Exchange," in Persistence of Vision (Maspeth), no. 11, 1995.

Ross, Alex, "A Dark Genius Haunts the Hollywood He Taunted," in New York Times, 21 January 1996.

Callow, Simon, "Orson Welles," in Architectural Digest (Los Angeles), vol. 53, no. 4, April 1996.

Wiener, J., "Hoover, Hearst and Citizen Welles," in Nation, vol. 262, 27 May 1996.

Lyons, Donald, "Setting Terms for Orson," in Film Comment (New York), vol. 32, no. 5, September-October 1996.

Andrew, Geoff, "Awesome Orson," in Time Out (London), no. 1363, 2 October 1996.

Wollen, Peter, "Foreign Relations: Welles and Touch of Evil," in Sight & Sound (London), vol. 6, no. 10, October 1996.

Rosenbaum, Jonathan, "The Battle Over Orson Welles," in Cineaste (New York), vol. 22, no. 3, December 1996.

"The Construction of Space and the Monstrous-feminine in the Welles-text," in Critical Survey, May 1998.

Rothwell, Kenneth S., "Orson Welles: Shakespeare for the Art Houses," in Cineaste (New York), Winter 1998.

Wollen, Peter, "The Vienna Project," in Sight & Sound (London), vol. 9, no. 7, July 1999.


On WELLES: films—

The Filming of Othello, documentary for television, 1978.

Orson Welles à la Cinemateque (documentary, 1982.

Hollywood Mavericks, documentary, 1990.

The Battle over Citizen Kane, television documentary directed by Thomas Lennon and Michael Epstein, 1995.


* * *

Orson Welles's reputation as a director has overshadowed his work as an actor. When reviewers do consider Welles's film performances, their assessments are mixed. Some see Welles as a master of bravura performances. Others argue that his work consists of behavioristic clichés that pass for decent acting because of Welles's mellifluous voice and striking physical presence. Welles's performances are not always flawless, but what his critics miss is that often Welles does not aim for naturalism, but instead draws on melodramatic tradition that uses excess and theatricality to illustrate a film's ethical implications.

Welles's best work is in Citizen Kane, Jane Eyre, Touch of Evil, and Chimes at Midnight, along with The Third Man and Compulsion, where his performances dominant the films even though he appears in only a few scenes. Films such as Moby Dick and A Man for All Seasons reveal Welles's unique ability to convey the texts' ethical dilemmas, for with his naturally dramatic voice and imposing presence, his cameo performances become pivotal moments in the narrative.

A veteran of the Todd Troupers and weekly unofficial productions under his directorial control, Welles made his professional acting debut at age 16, and his Broadway debut at age 19. That same year, 1934, he directed and starred in his first film, played a Kane-like figure in a piece of agit-prop theater, and began starring in radio programs (e.g., The Shadow and First Person Singular). In 1937, he played Brutus in his Mercury production of Julius Caesar; the next year he broadcast the infamous "War of the Worlds."

In 1941, Welles played the title role in Citizen Kane. Welles's carefully designed performance does not aim for psychological realism, but instead conveys the different narrators' conflicting views of Charles Foster Kane. In Thatcher's sequence, Welles's quick-rhythmed speech and studied innocence express Thatcher's view that Kane is a young madman headed for a Faustian bargain. In the Bernstein sequence, Welles's exacting diction and flamboyant gestures convey Bernstein's fraternal image of Charlie-the-Great. In the next segment, Welles's performance reflects Leland's view that his friend becomes Kane-the-demagogue: Welles deepens his voice to deliver Kane's political speech, his stance echoes the image on the poster that hangs behind him, and as the segment ends, Welles's body is as immobile as a statue, his voice the booming voice of pitiless authority. In the concluding sequences, Welles's increasingly expressionistic performance shows us that Kane becomes the hollow shell of his ambition, literally puffed-up with self-importance, Kane is an untethered dirigible crashing about, then finally an orator reduced to a whisper. In the films that would follow, Welles revealed his abiding interest in stylized and highly codified characterizations: he consistently played strong characters with his left, three-quarter profile to camera, and weak characters, or strong characters in weak moments, right profile to camera.

Welles was active on stage, screen, and radio throughout the 1940s. Jane Eyre was Welles's first film acting assignment for another director, and his dramatic performance enhanced the mood of Brontë's gothic melodrama. In his own The Lady from Shanghai, Welles played O'Hara with a phony brogue that underscored the film's exploration of deceit, illusion, and artifice. In his last directorial assignment in Hollywood for a decade, Welles played the title role in his expressionistic Macbeth.

The conventional wisdom is that to secure financing for his own films, Welles spent the next three decades hamming-it-up in other people's bad pictures. Yet a review of his performances shows that is not quite the case. Welles gives a brilliant performance in The Third Man, his careful underplaying effectively conveying Harry Lime's sinister character. In the mid-fifties, Welles created notable performances for television; for example, in 1953, his performance in the title role of King Lear was a major success.

Some of Welles's best work was to come. His characterizations in The Long Hot Summer and Compulsion are the work of an accomplished actor. His performance in his own Touch of Evil is disturbing and masterful. Welles's performance as Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight is, quite arguably, the best performance of his career. Drawing on his lifelong study of Faustian figures, Welles gives us a Falstaff who is an endearing but detestable fool. And like his portrayals of other charming but flawed characters, Welles's performance is enriched by the conflicting aspects of his own image: egotist, visionary, wastrel, martyr.

An international celebrity from the time he was a young man, Welles continually subjected his public image to scrutiny: in the 1970s, he appeared regularly on late-night variety shows, in commercials, and in films such as Catch-22 that present us with caricatures of Welles's celebrity personae. F for Fake allowed Welles to reprise one of his signature roles: the entertaining charlatan. Someone to Love, Welles's final appearance on film, provided an apt conclusion to his unique acting career, for it ends with Welles's on-camera call to "cut."

—Cynthia Baron

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Welles, Orson

Orson Welles

Born: May 16, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Died: October 10, 1985
Los Angeles, California

American actor, writer, and director

Orson Welles was a Broadway and Hollywood actor, radio actor, and film director. His earliest film production, Citizen Kane, was his most famous, although most of his other productions were notable as well.

Early life and education

Orson Welles was born George Orson Welles in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on May 6, 1915, the second son of Richard Welles, an inventor, and Beatrice Ives, a concert pianist. The name George was soon dropped. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Welles was four, and two years later his parents separated formally. The comfortable family life in which Orson was born gradually fell apart. Orson lived with his mother for the next few years and was deeply involved with her artistic lifestyle. Upon her death, his father resumed the task of continuing the eight-year-old Orson's education. An important early influence on his life was Maurice Bernstein, an orthopedist who would eventually be his guardian after his father's suicide in 1928. Upon Dr. Bernstein's suggestion, young Orson was enrolled in the progressive Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois. There, Orson was first introduced to theater and learned a great deal about production and direction. His formal education ended with graduation in 1931.

After a short stay in Ireland, where Welles was involved in the theater as an actor, he returned to Chicago where he briefly served as a drama coach at the Todd School and coedited four volumes of plays by William Shakespeare (15641616). He made his Broadway debut with Katharine Cornell's company in December 1934. He and John Houseman (19021988) joined forces the next year to manage a unit of the Federal Theatre Project, one of the work-relief arts projects established by the New Deal, a major nationwide social program intended to spark economic recovery during the 1930s. Welles's direction was inspired, injecting new life into various classics, including an all-African American Macbeth, the French farce (humorous ridicule) The Italian Straw Hat, and the morality (having to do with right and wrong) play Dr. Faustus.

The Mercury Theatre

Welles and Houseman broke with the Federal Theatre Project over its attempt to shut down their June 1937 production of Marc Blitzstein's pro-labor The Cradle Will Rock. They organized the Mercury Theatre, which over the next two seasons had a number of extraordinary successes, including a modern dress Julius Caesar (with Welles playing Brutus), an Elizabethan working-class comedy Shoemaker's Holiday (rewritten by Welles), and George Bernard Shaw's (18561950) Heartbreak House (with the twenty-four-year-old Welles convincingly playing an elderly man). Welles also found time to play "The Shadow" on radio and to supervise a "Mercury Theatre on the Air," whose most notorious success was an adaptation of H. G. Wells's (18661946) War of the Worlds, which resulted in panic as many listeners believed that Martians were invading New Jersey.

In 1939 the Mercury Theatre collapsed as a result of economic problems and Welles went to Hollywood, California, to find the cash to resurrect it. Except for a stirring dramatization of Richard Wright's (19081960) Native Son in 1940, an unhappy attempt to stage Jules Verne's (18281905) Around the World in 80 Days (music and lyrics by Cole Porter (c.18911964) in 1946, and an unsatisfactory King Lear in 1956, his Broadway career was over. He did continue theater activity overseas: during the 1950s he successfully staged Moby Dick in England, directed Laurence Olivier (19071989) in the London production of Eugène Ionesco's Rhinoceros, and wrote a script for the Roland Petit ballet.

Citizen Kane and other films

Following an early flirtation with movies and after casting around some months for a subject, Welles filmed Citizen Kane in 1939 and 1940. Since its release in 1941 this film has generally been praised as one of the best movies of all time. It is a fascinating study of a newspaper publisher. Controversy surrounds the production of this film, which Welles is credited with producing, directing, and coscripting. He also played the leading role. However one views the making of this film, there is no doubt about his role as its catalyst (a provider of action or quick change).

Years later Welles declared "I began at the top and have been making my way down ever since." All the films he directed are of interest, but none matched his initial achievement of Citizen Kane. Among his other films are The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady From Shanghai (1946), Othello (1952), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1962), and F Is for Fake (1973). Most of these films have been marked by disputes and Welles often disowned the final version. His critics argue that a self-destructive tendency caused these problems and cite his experiences with the unfinished It's All True, which he embarked on in Brazil in 1942 before finishing the final editing of The Magnificent Ambersons. But his supporters called it a destroyed masterpiece (in his absence, one hundred thirty-one minutes were edited down to a final release print of eighty-eight minutes).

A somewhat hammy actor with a magnificent voice, Welles appeared in over forty-five films besides his own. In some of these films, such as The Third Man (1949) and Compulsion (1959), he was superb. But all too many were junk movies such as Black Magic (1949) and The Tarters (1960). He accepted these so that he might earn the funds necessary to finance films of his own such as Chimes at Midnight (released in 1966, a film based on various Shakespeare plays).

Later career

For various reasons Welles left the United States after World War II (193945; a war fought between the Axis: Italy, Japan, and Germanyand the Allies: England, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States), and for three decades lived a kind of uprooted existence abroad, with occasional visits back to America for movie assignments or other work. An intelligent individual with many interests, Welles during World War II had put in a stint as a columnist at the liberal New York Post and later gave some thought to a political career. During the latter part of his life, despite being dogged by ill health, he earned a comfortable living doing television commercials for companies such as Paul Masson wines, putting much of what he earned into the production of various films, including The Other Side of the Wind (which dealt with an old filmmaker and which was unfinished at the time of his death as well as being involved in litigation, or legal matters). A superb storyteller, Wellesafter moving back to the United States in the mid-1970swas much in demand as a guest on television talk shows.

Married three times, Welles had children with each wife: Virginia Nicolson (Christopher), Rita Hayworth (Rebecca), and his widow Paola Mori (Beatrice). He had many friends in his lifetime, including Oja Kodar, a Yugoslav artist who was his companion and assistant from the mid-1960s onward. Welles shared an Academy Award for the script of Citizen Kane and in 1975 was honored by the American Film Institute with a Life Achievement Award. His other awards include a 1958 Peabody Award for a TV pilot. Welles died of a heart attack on October 10, 1985.

For More Information

Carringer, Roger. The Making of Citizen Kane. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Higham, Charles. Orson Welles: The Rise and Fall of an American Genius. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.

Leaming, Barbara. Orson Welles, a Biography. New York: Viking, 1985.

Taylor, John Russell. Orson Welles: A Celebration. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986.

Thomson, David. Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles. New York: Knopf, 1996.

Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich. This Is Orson Welles. New York: Harper-Collins, 1992.

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Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Orson Welles (1915-1985) was a Broadway and Hollywood actor, radio actor, and film director. His earliest film production, Citizen Kane, was his most famous, although most of his other productions were notable.

Orson Welles was born George Orson Welles in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on May 6, 1915, the second son of Richard Welles, an inventor, and Beatrice Ives, a concert pianist. The name George was soon dropped. The family moved to Chicago when Welles was four; two years later his parents separated formally. The comfortable circumstances in which Welles was born gradually diminished. An important early influence on his life was Maurice Bernstein, an orthopedist and passionate admirer of his mother until her death in 1926. That year he was enrolled in the progressive Todd School (Woodstock, Illinois). His formal education ended with graduation in 1931.

After a sojourn to Ireland, where he was involved in the theater as an actor, Welles returned to Chicago where he briefly served as a drama coach at the Todd School and coedited four volumes of Shakespeare's plays. He made his Broadway debut with Katharine Cornell's company in December 1934. He and John Houseman joined forces the next year to manage a unit of the Federal Theatre Project, one of the work-relief arts projects established by the New Deal. Welles' direction was inspired, injecting new life into various classics, including an all-African American Macbeth, the French farce The Italian Straw Hat, and the Elizabethan morality play Dr. Faustus.

Welles and Houseman broke with the Federal Theatre Project over its attempt to censor their June 1937 production of Marc Blitzstein's pro-labor The Cradle Will Rock. They organized the Mercury Theatre, which over the next two seasons had a number of extraordinary successes, including a modern dress anti-Fascist Julius Caesar (with Welles playing Brutus), an Elizabethan working-class comedy Shoe-maker's Holiday (re-written by Welles), and Shaw's Heartbreak House (with the 24-year-old Welles convincingly playing an octogenerian). Welles also found time to play "The Shadow" on radio and to supervise a "Mercury Theatre on the Air, " whose most notorious success was an adaptation of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds, which resulted in panic as many listeners believed that Martians were invading New Jersey.

In 1939 the Mercury Theatre collapsed as a result of economic problems; Welles went to Hollywood to find the cash to resurrect it. Except for a stirring dramatization of Richard Wright's Native Son in 1940, an unhappy attempt to stage Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days (music and lyrics by Cole Porter) in 1946, and an unsatisfactory King Lear in 1956, his Broadway career was over. He did continue theater activity overseas: during the 1950s he successfully staged Moby Dick in England, directed Laurence Olivier in the London production of Ionesco's Rhinoceros, and wrote a script for a Roland Petit ballet.

Following an early flirtation with movies and after casting around some months for a subject, Welles filmed Citizen Kane in 1939-1940. Since its release in 1941 this film has generally been awarded accolades and in recent years has been acclaimed as one of the best movies of all time. It is a fascinating study of a newspaper publisher (obviously modeled on William Randolph Hearst, despite Welles' disclaimers). Controversy surrounds the production of this film, which Welles is credited with producing, directing, and coscripting. He also played the leading role. However one views the making of this film, there is no doubt about his role as catalyst.

Years later Welles declared "I began at the top and have been making my way down ever since." All the films he directed are of interest, but none matched his initial achievement. Among his other films are The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady From Shanghai (1946), Othello (1952), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1962), and F Is for Fake (1973). Most of these films have been marked by disputes; Welles often disowned the final version. His critics argue that a self-destructive tendency caused these problems and cite his experiences with the unfinished It's All True, which he embarked on in Brazil in 1942 before finishing the final editing of The Magnificent Ambersons. But his partisans called it a destroyed masterpiece (in his absence 131 minutes were edited down to a final release print of 88 minutes).

A somewhat hammy actor with a magnificent voice, Welles appeared in over 45 films besides his own. In some of these films, such as The Third Man (1949) and Compulsion (1959), he was superb. But all too many were junk movies such as Black Magic (1949) and The Tarters (1960); he accepted these so that he might earn the funds necessary to finance films of his own such as Chimes at Midnight (released in 1966, an exciting film based on various Shakespeare plays and dealing with Falstaff).

For various reasons Welles left the United States after World War II and for three decades lived a kind of gypsy existence abroad, with occasional visits back to America for movie assignments or other work. An intelligent, multifaceted individual, Welles during World War II had put in a stint as a columnist at the liberal New York Post and later gave some thought to a political career. During the latter part of his life, despite being dogged by ill health, he earned a comfortable living doing television commercials for companies such as Paul Masson wines, putting much of what he earned into the production of various films, including The Other Side of the Wind (which dealt with an old film-maker and which was unfinished at the time of his death as well as being involved in litigation). A superb racontuer, Welles— after moving back to the United States in the mid-1970s— was much in demand as a guest on television talk shows.

Welles was found dead in early October 1985 in his Los Angeles home. Married three times, he had children with each wife: Virginia Nicolson (Christopher), Rita Hayworth (Rebecca), and his widow Paola Mori (Beatrice). He had many friends in his lifetime, including Oja Kodar, a Yugoslav artist who was his companion and assistant from the mid-1960s onward. Welles shared an Academy Award for the script of Citizen Kane and in 1975 was honored by the American Film Institute with a Life-Achievement Award. Welles' other awards include a 1958 Peabody Award for a TV pilot.

Further Reading

See biographies by Charles Higham (1985), Barbara Leaming (1985), and John Russell Taylor (1986). See also Roger Carringer, The Making of Citizen Kane (1985) and Pauline Kael, The Citizen Kane Book (1973). □

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Welles, Orson

Orson Welles, 1915–85, American actor, director, and producer, b. Kenosha, Wis. From childhood he evinced a precocious talent and lofty sense of self-assurance in theatrical matters. He began acting in the theater during the early 1930s, and in 1937 directed several Federal Theatre productions and organized the Mercury Theatre company in New York. In 1938 a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, done in the style of a news broadcast, panicked the listening public and brought Welles national attention. He departed for Hollywood the following year. For RKO he cowrote, produced, directed, and starred in his first film, Citizen Kane (1941), considered by many to be the greatest film ever made. Welles brought technical brilliance, a precise sense of casting, and a complex narrative structure to bear on a teasingly ambiguous portrait of an American tycoon. He won an Academy Award for the screenplay, but never enjoyed such acclaim again.

After Citizen Kane Welles clashed constantly with studio chiefs and was never again able to exert such absolute artistic control or achieve such creative success. His other films include The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady from Shanghai (1948), Othello (1952), Touch of Evil (1958; restored and reworked according to Welles's instructions, 1998), The Trial (1963), and Chimes at Midnight (1966). Welles's booming voice and air of authority made him a popular film actor and occasional off-screen narrator, appearing in films such as Jane Eyre (1943), The Third Man (1949), Catch-22 (1970), and Someone to Love (1987). Beginning in the 1970s, he also became a popular figure on television, in commercials and as a frequent guest and occasional host on talk shows.

See O. Welles et al., This Is Orson Welles (rev. ed., 1998); biographies by F. Brady (1989), C. Higham (1985), B. Leaming (1985), S. Callow (2 vol., 1996–), J. McBride (rev. ed. 1996), and D. Thomson (1996); studies of his films by C. Higham (1970), P. Cowie (1972), H. James (1991), A. Bazin (1992), and P. Conrad (2003); H. J. Mankiewicz and P. Kael, The Citizen Kane Book (1971); R. L. Carringer, The Making of Citizen Kane (1985); C. Heylin, Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios (2005); The Battle over Citizen Kane (documentary film, 1995).

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Welles, (George) Orson

Welles, (George) Orson (1915–85) US actor and director. His first publicly shown film, Citizen Kane (1940), was a great critical success and won an Oscar for its screenplay. As an actor, he starred in the classic The Third Man (1949), and acted in and directed Touch of Evil (1958). Disenchanted with Hollywood, Welles went into self-imposed exile from the USA, directing European productions, including The Trial (1963), Chimes at Midnight (1966), and The Immortal Story (1968).

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