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April 1994


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Sean Axmaker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 25 Apr 1994 18:27:06 -0700
text/plain (111 lines)
For the most complete lists of Orson Welles projects, consult the books
_Citizen Welles_ by Frank Brady and _This Is Orson Welles_ , an interview
book with Orson Welles conducted by Peter Bogdanovich and edited by Jonathan
Rosenbaum, who also provides the extensive notes on his career, the
original cut of _The Magnificent Ambersons_ and other notes.
Here's a quick sketch of his film work (as director):
The Hearts of Age (1934, short experimental film), Too Much Johnson (1938,
made to be shown with a stage production), Citizen Kane (1941), The
Magnificent Amberson (1942), It's All True (shot 1941-42, unfinished), Journey
Into Fear (1943, producer and uncredited co-direction), The Stranger (1946),
The Lady From Shanghai (1948), Macbeth (1948, 107m, watch out for cut versions),
Othello (1952), Don Quixote (shot 1955, unfinished), Mr. Arkadin/Confidential
Report (1955), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1963), Chimes at Midnight
(1967), The Immortal Story (1968), The Deep (shot 1967-69, unfinished), The
Other Side of the Wind (shot 1970-1974, unfinished), F For Fake (1973),
Filming Othello (1978), The Dreamers (shot 1978-85, unfinished)
Much of Welles' work is available in some form on video or laser. Many of
his films are easily obtainable on commercial, studio released tape at low
prices: Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Journey Into Fear, The
Lady From Shanghai, Macbeth, Touch of Evil.
His other works are trickier to turn up. The four minute student film The
Hearts of Age is available on "Avante Garde and Experiemental Shorts," a
collection of experimental shorts from Video Yesteryear and on the
Criterion CAV laser of Citizen Kane. Othello was recently released on tape by
Academy Entertainment ($90) and awaits a laser release by Criterion. Mr. Arkadin
is in the public domain and can be found on several PD inprints (the $40 tape by
Hens Tooth is identical to the other PD prints on the market, except that it
zooms in on the image and thus cuts out image from all sides of the film;
otherwise it is from the same master as the Foothills Video version (same splice
marks and print damage gives it way)). The European version of the film, titled
Confidential Report, is edited differently and has some different scenes
from Mr. Arkadin, and is available on laser from Criterion and on tape from
Madacy Video in a rather poor EP recording as part of an "Orson Welles Double
Feature." (The other tape is The Third Man.) For further information onf
Mr. Arkadin/Confidential Report, look for _Video Watchdog_ #10 (Mar/Apr 1992)
and _Film Comment_ V28n1 (Jan/Feb 1992).
The Stranger is a PD title and available through many PD houses, usually
in poor quality prints (if anyone has a line on which ones are good, please
let us know). The Trial was once only available in poor PD prints (often
incomplete cuts) but is available in good looking, complete form from
Facets Video offers a version of Chimes at Midnight at the rather steep
price of $79.95. The quality isn't very good (it looks like Foothills Video
packaging) but it's the only version out there. Facets also offers a poor
version of The Immortal Story for (I think) $39.95, from Matinee Classics.
(Don't hold the quality against Facets; their simply a middleman,
gathering the best versions they can from the companies putting them on the
market).Since Facets also rents by mail, you can see these without shelling
out a fortune.
As for the rest of Welles' directoral career, the 40m Too Much Johnson is
lost to time (according to Rosenbaum, the last print was destroyed in a
fire in Welles' villa in Spain years ago);It's All True was partly
reconstructed and released as Orson Welles: It's All True, a part
documentary and part reconstruction of the existing footage from the
Four Men and a Raft episode (the short film looks stunning but
suffers from pedestrian editing and a terrible music track), there has
been no video release date for this yet.
Don Quixote and The Other Side of the Wind, two unfinished projects,
appear to be tied up in battles over who owns the rights, although I hear that
footage from The Other Side of the Wind, as well as other unfinished projects,
appear in Gary Graver's documentary Working With Welles. (Graver was
cinematographer on OSOTW, The Dreamers, and other Welles projects.) Clips
from The Other Side of the Wind was also shown on the 1975 AFI LIfetime
Acheivement Award show, when they gave it to Orson. That special is
available on video.
I do not know of the current fates of The Deep, F For Fake, or Filming
Othello (for German TV). F For Fake was once available for 16mm and 35mm
showings through Janus Films, and Filming Othello made a short circuit of
special non-theatrical (film festival, museum and cultural organization)
showings 6 or 8 years ago.
In 1990 TNT broadcast a 150 documentary With Orson Welles: Stories of a
Life on Film, a shortened version of a BBC documentary The Orson Welles Story
(1980, 210m). If anyone knows a source for the original documentary please
respond for I'd love to see it.
Welles shot all or parts of many TV pilots: The Fountain of Youth (TV pilot,
shot 1956, broadcast 1958), Orson Welles on the Art of Bullfighting(episode
of Tempo, ABC, 1961), Orson's Bag/Around the World with Orson Welles (never
shown), THe Magic Show (shot 1977-78), a talk show pilot shot in 1978; plus
he made two short series for British TV: Orson Welles' Sketch Book (1955, 6
episodes of 15m programs), and Orson Welles' Great Mysteries (1973-74, 26
episodes of 30m programs, shot by Gary Graver). The Fountain of Youth is
said to be available at the end of the Hollywood Video Library version of
Peter Brooks' 1953 King Lear (made for the BBC with Orson as Lear), but I
haven't been able to uncover any copies. Some mail-order rental outfits
may have this version. The rest of this stuff I can't find.
If anyone out there has a line on, or access to, any of these unavailable
Orson projects, please let me know, as I am striving to see everything
available that he made.
This is not a complete list of projects, but pretty much covers the
finished work and larger unfinished projects of the Orse. Many unfilmed
screenplays are around and some have been published. Of course scores of
radio shows still exist and I'd love to see some listing of those. The
novel _Mr. Arkadin_ was published with Welles' name as author but
Rosenbaum claims that it was really written by Maurice Bessy (who wrote a
book on Welles years ago). Welles himself says he never wrote the book.
                                        Yours in Cinema
                                        Sean Axmaker