|ROGUE GENIUS: An Orson Welles
Sponsored by the Hollywood
Foreign Press Association
Where do you begin with Orson Welles, a man with a talent and
imagination so prodigious that he spanned radio, films, television, books, theater and
excelled in them all? From his first film masterpiece CITIZEN KANE - more often than not
described as one of the best movies ever made - to his checkered career fighting for
funding to realize his directorial vision, Welles stands alone, holding a special place in
the pantheon of cinematic greats. Welles himself (in F FOR FAKE) made the self-deprecating
remark, "I began at the top and have been working my way down ever since,"
referring to the popular misconception that his post-KANE career somehow never
delivered on his initial promise. In reality, Welles delivered again and again on that
promise, in such dazzling and unexpected ways that audiences, critics and other filmmakers
are still trying to catch up. How else can one describe a career that encompasses such
films as THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, OTHELLO, TOUCH OF EVIL, THE
TRIAL, an astonishingly rich legacy of television (including "The Fountain Of
Youth"), as well as legendary "unfinished" films such as THE OTHER SIDE OF
THE WIND and DON QUIXOTE? Although he had to jump through bigger and bigger hoops to
secure financing for his movies, dealing with an industry used to mediocrity, somehow he
managed to create and put his art in the public eye for over four decades. A brilliantly
dramatic actor, always delivering a droll performance with seemingly little effort, he was
a genius director, capable of creating works that were simultaneously tragic, elegiac,
lyrical, satirical, playfully surreal and pulpy, miraculously managing to integrate all
these traits into a style that is immediately recognizable as "Wellesian." (Note: Welles CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT is currently unavailable for
screening, so unfortunately, we were not able include it in this retrospective.)
Were enormously pleased to welcome
Stefan Droessler, director of the Munich Filmmuseum, which has amassed the worlds
largest collection of rare Welles materials, working closely with the filmmakers
long-time companion Oja Kodar. Mr. Droessler will present six different programs,
organized around various themes, using clips from TV shows directed by Welles, guest
appearances and cameos in movies and on TV, scenes from his uncompleted projects, and more
most never before seen in Los Angeles.
Friday, February 13 7:30 PM
CITIZEN KANE, 1941, Warner Bros.,
119 min. Orson Welles was only 25 when he directed this masterpiece, and it remains
one of the most phenomenal motion pictures ever made. Trailblazing in so many aspects,
from Gregg Tolands complex camera and lighting to Bernard Herrmanns score to
one of the finest ensemble casts (including Welles, Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane and
Agnes Moorehead) ever assembled. With an Academy Award-winning script by Welles and
Herman Mankiewicz. Plus Welles very first short film, "Hearts Of Age,"
1934, 4 min.
Saturday, February 14 5:00 PM
Brand New 35mm Print!!
THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, 1942,
Warner Bros., 88 min. Director Orson Welles poetic, tragic adaptation of the
Booth Tarkington novel, centering on the fall of one wealthy family, with Stanley
Cortezs dynamic camerawork providing a panorama of turn-of-the-century America and
the decay of the old aristocracy. Infamously re-edited without Welles involvement,
AMBERSONS, even its abbreviated form, is still an overwhelmingly rich masterpiece. With
Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt, Anne Baxter.
Saturday, February 14 7:30 PM
Brand New 35mm Print!!
THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, 1948,
Columbia, 87 min. The camera is the star in one of director Orson Welles most
phantasmagorical films, a dazzling noir thriller about a seaman, a crippled lawyer and his
homicidal wife pursuing each other through a "bright, guilty world" of
infidelity, deception and murder. The hall of mirrors climax is riveting. With Orson
Welles, Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane.
Sunday, February 15 4:00 PM
OTHELLO, 1952, Castle Hill, 92 min.
Until its 1992 restoration, Welles wildly imaginative Shakespearean adaptation
was often overlooked, and nearly impossible to see in a decent print. Despite its initial
budgetary problems, which caused the shooting schedule to stretch out over three years (it
was started in 1949), it stands as one of Welles greatest visual poems. An
astonishing achievement against nearly overwhelming odds. Starring Welles, Micheál
MacLiammóir, Suzanne Cloutier.
Sunday, February 15 6:30 PM
TOUCH OF EVIL, 1958, Universal,
111 min. Orson Welles hallucinatory, off-kilter masterwork stars Charlton
Heston in one of his finest roles as a Mexican policeman trapped on the wrong side of
the border, where a corpulent, corrupt cop (Welles) tries to stop him from digging into
the past. Janet Leigh co-stars as Hestons newlywed wife, menaced by
leather-clad Mercedes McCambridge and her gang of juvenile delinquents. Co-starring Akim
Tamiroff, Marlene Dietrich, Joseph Calleia. Were screening the restored version,
reconstructed in 1998 according to Welles original notes. Discussion
following with restoration producer Rick Schmidlin.
Wednesday, February 18 7:30 PM
THE TRIAL, 1962, 118 min. Franz Kafkas
classic novel of paranoia and conspiracy seems tailor-made for Orson Welles. A
labyrinthine, deliciously satiric, nightmare vision of a man (Anthony Perkins) accused of
an unspecified crime that emerges as a subtle allegory of Welles own Catch
22-tribulations working in the film industry. With a dream cast that includes Jeanne
Moreau, Romy Schneider, Akim Tamiroff and Welles himself.
ORSON WELLES IN ITALY: ROSABELLA, 1993,
Chip Taylor Communications, 60 min. Dirs. Ciro Giorgini, Gianfranco Giagni. A stirring
documentary exploring a twenty year period of Welles life when he lived and worked
in Italy. There are rare behind-the-scenes film clips from OTHELLO, as well as the
unfinished DON QUIXOTE and JULIUS CEASAR, plus interviews with various
friends and colleagues. (Note: "Rosebud" in the Italian version of CITIZEN KANE
is translated as "Rosabella".) In Italian with English subtitles.
Friday, February 20 7:00 PM
THE WELLES RARITIES Program 1: "Its All Magic"
Orson Welles had a lifelong obsession with magic in all its
incarnations, evident in this collection of rare movie and TV appearances. The program
includes a clip from Edward Sutherlands FOLLOW THE BOYS, (1944, Universal, 5
min.) with Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich performing his stage magic show; a rarely
seen episode of the "I Love Lucy" show, where Lucy meets Orson Welles
(1956, CBS TV, 26 min.); restored material from the
unfinished MAGIC SHOW he was filming from 1976 until the end of his life; and more.
Stefan Droessler of the Munich
Film Archive to introduce the screening.
Friday, February 20 9:30 PM
THE WELLES RARITIES Program 2: "People
All his life Orson Welles liked to travel,
and in his films and television work he very often portrayed people and places in Europe
for British or American audiences. In this program we see Welles visiting Paris, Italy and
London, finding outsiders, film stars and typical Britains, who were interviewed (as well
as occasionally impersonated!) by Welles himself. The episodes of ORSON WELLES
LONDON (1968-71) are among the funniest comedy pieces he ever did. Also featuring: AROUND
THE WORLD WITH ORSON WELLES: "Paris After Dark" (Saint
Germain-Des-Pres)," (1955, Image Entertainment/Euro London Films, 28 min. Dir.
Orson Welles); and more. Introduction
to screenings by Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Archive. Discussion following with
actor Jonathan Lynn ("Orson Welles London").
Saturday, February 21 5:00 PM
THE WELLES RARITIES Program 3: "Obediently
Yours: The Storyteller"
One of Orson Welles favorite roles
was narrator, either on-or-off-camera -- it didnt matter. In all the mediums and
film forms, he loved to play this part: as invisible director in the CITIZEN
KANE trailer (1941), interfering with the action as host in his legendary
television project "THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH" (1956, Desilu
Productions/Viacom, 25 min.), or as pure storyteller in front of a camera in
THE GOLDEN HONEYMOON (1971). Even his never-finished project DON
QUIXOTE (1956- 71) is based on his narration. Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Archive to introduce the screening.
Saturday, February 21 8:30 PM
THE WELLES RARITIES Program 4: "Stage and Theater"
Before and after gaining worldwide critical renown for his
movies, Orson Welles excelled as a respected actor and director in theater. This program
shows him on stage in Dublin, remembering the early days and reading from his theater play
MOBY DICK REHEARSED. In 1971, at last he tried to film his play playing all
the parts by himself. As unknown as this film is his adaptation of Shakespeares
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, which survives only as a fragment. Introduction to screenings by Stefan Droessler of
the Munich Film Archive.
Sunday, February 22 4:00 PM
THE WELLES RARITIES Program 5: "Unfinished Works" Orson Welles had more unfinished projects than any other major film director,
something that has added immeasurably to his myth. This program gives a glimpse at some of
the incomplete works behind the legend. You will see scenes and sequences of THE DEEP
(1967 69), THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (1972) and THE DREAMERS (1978 85).
Introduction by Stefan Droessler
of the Munich Film Archive.
Sunday, February 22 6:30 PM
THE WELLES RARITIES Program 6: "Looking
The cinematic aesthetic behind Orson Welles creations, his
filmmaking views and methods are explored by the master himself.
In a British television series Welles tells
the story of his "War Of The Worlds" radio broadcast, and at USC he discusses
with the audience his film THE TRIAL. Plus, "The Dominici Affair," (1999,
La Huit Prod., 52 min.) In 1955, Welles produced and directed a short series called
"Around The World With Orson Welles" for British TV, but one episode,
"The Tragedy Of Lurs," was never completed. The subject was the murders of
an English family camping in the French countryside and the trial of a local farmer for
the killings. Director Christophe Cognet chronicles the making of "The Tragedy
Of Lurs," and includes a complete restoration of all available material from the
episode directed by Welles. Introduction to screenings by
Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Archive and FILMING THE TRIAL cinematographer Gary
Tuesday, February 24 7:30 PM
Brand New 35mm Print!!
F FOR FAKE, 1974, Janus/Criterion, 85
min. Orson Welles appears as "himself" (but which self? Master director?
Magician? Media manipulator?) in this delightful essay on the nature of illusion, focusing
on all types of fakery and fakers, including notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory and
fraudulent Howard Hughes-biographer, Clifford Irving. With Oja Kodar, Peter Bogdanovich. Discussion following with cinematographer Gary Graver.
Wednesday, March 10 7:30 PM
New 35 mm Print!
THE STRANGER, 1946, MGM/UA, 95 min. Director Orson
Welles suspenseful study of an escaped Nazi war criminal (played by Welles
himself) living in a small Connecticut town, who is pursued by a Federal agent (Edward
G. Robinson) to a no-holds-barred climax. Loretta Young gives one of her finest
screen performances as Welles unsuspecting wife. Ironically, this was Welles
most successful film at the box office.
ITS ALL TRUE: Based On An
Unfinished Film By Orson Welles, filmed 1942; reconstructed 1993, Paramount, 87 min.
Dirs. Richard Wilson, Myron Meisel & Bill Krohn. A fascinating reconstruction of an
incomplete 3-part film Orson Welles made for RKO at the request of Nelson
Rockefeller and the State Department to promote relations with Latin America during WWII.
Included is material from all three sections (in various states of completion): "My
Friend, Bonito," "Four Men and a Raft" and "The Story of
the Samba." The reconstruction also features interviews with Welles and various
Brazilians who worked on the project. Introduction to
ITS ALL TRUE by co-directors Myron Meisel and Bill Krohn, editor Ed Marx,
post-production coordinator Tony Bozanich, and Cinematheque Board of Trustees member
Michael Schlesinger, who was instrumental in restoring the film.
Wednesday, March 17 7:30 PM
MACBETH, 1948, Paramount, 119
min. Dir. Orson Welles. Were very pleased to present this painstakingly restored (to
its original form) version of MACBETH, led by the UCLA Film & TV Archives preservation
officer Robert Gitt. The film had been cut by 21 minutes, re-recorded to
"Americanize" the dialogue, and then rarely shown. Gitt tracked down the missing
footage and original, Scottish-accented soundtrack, plus the Jacques Ibert overture and
exit music. Critic Stanley Kauffman wrote about the restoration: "Whatever the
details of Gitts job, Welles MACBETH is now a bold, exciting, innovative
film." The innovations cannot be overstated. Longtime Welles collaborator Richard
Wilson considered MACBETH "the greatest experimental American film ever made under
the Hollywood studio system," and the restored footage includes a reel-long take. The
studio was driven mad by the many retakes the ten-minute sequence required. Eight parts
Welles to two parts Shakespeare, MACBETH was shot around Salt Lake City and features
low-budget grandiosity, plus Welles in an intense, towering performance as the tormented
Scots king, "one of the best elements of the film, thrilling and a bit poignant
In every one of the big moments, Welles rises to the heroic." (Kauffman)
(Program notes courtesy James Quandt/Cinematheque Ontario.) Discussion following with actress Peggy Webber.
Wednesday, March 24 7:30 PM
"THE UNSEEN WELLES"
Were very pleased to welcome Gary and Jillian Graver,
directors and curators of the Orson Welles Archives here in Los Angeles, to present an
eye-opening program of additional Welles rarities and curiosities. A close collaborator of
Welles since 1970, Gary Graver worked on many of the masters films, including THE
OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, FILMING OTHELLO and F FOR FAKE. (He was also cinematographer on
dozens of other films, including a number of exploitation classics.) Renowned for their
informed, personal and fascinating presentations on all aspects of Welles career,
the Gravers have appeared at festivals, cinematheques and film institutes around the world
with similar programs. No Wellesian can afford to miss the chance, not only to see such
rare footage as Welles Japanese whiskey commercials, and a unique reconstruction of
the "Four Men On A Raft" sequence from ITS ALL TRUE, but also to share an
evening with the man who worked most closely with Welles for the last 15 years of his
life. (Program notes courtesy James Quandt/Cinematheque Ontario.) Program approx. 90
minutes. Special Offer: Current American Cinematheque members will
be admitted free of charge to this screening.
Wednesday, March 31 7:15 PM
New 35 mm. Print! CONFIDENTIAL REPORT (aka MR. ARKADIN), 1955,
Janus/Criterion, 99 min. Dir. Orson Welles. "One of Welles most inventive and
resonant films" (J. Hoberman, Village Voice), CONFIDENTIAL REPORT
retains the investigative structure of CITIZEN KANE the life of a rich and powerful
man is recounted by several people who knew him but replaces KANEs tragic
romanticism with a sordidness that is so far over the top as not to be believed. A
ruthless financier (Welles) hires a sleazy young cigarette smuggler to write a
"confidential report" on his past, hoping to erase the last traces of his infamy
so that his beloved daughter will never find the truth about him. Welles decks out this
mock-tragic "chronicle of a death foretold" with down n dirty rococo
effects and tall tales, including that epitome of cynicism, the fable about the frog and
the scorpion. There are several distinct versions of the film we will be screening
a new print of the CONFIDENTIAL REPORT version. (Program notes courtesy James
THE BIG BRASS RING, 1999, Nu
Image, 104 min. Dir. George Hickenlooper. In THE BIG BRASS RING, the screenplay Orson
Welles co-wrote with Oja Kodar in 1982, Welles was meditating with prophetic
energy on American fate and the nature of power by telling the story of political
candidate Blake Pellarin, who is haunted by his past and settling scores with his
enigmatic mentor, Kim Mennaker. Many years later, the previously unproduced script was
adapted by director George Hickenlooper (THE MAN FROM ELYSIAN FIELDS, THE MAYOR OF
SUNSET STRIP) and screenwriter F.X. Feeney, with a stellar cast including William
Hurt, Nigel Hawthorne, Miranda Richardson and Irene Jacob. "THE BIG
BRASS RING struck me as an opportunity to both pay a debt to an artist I revere and yet
dramatize something deeply related to my own experience. It was clear that I wasnt
out to make a lost Orson Welles film. What I wanted was to take this
unfinished work and make something new and beautiful out of it." George
Hickenlooper. (Program notes courtesy Stefan Droessler/Munich Filmmuseum.)
Introduction to THE BIG BRASS RING by director
George Hickenlooper and screenwriter F.X. Feeney.