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1. This is Orson Welles
2. Me and Orson Welles: A Novel
3. Orson Welles: Volume 2: Hello
4. Orson Welles: Interviews (Conversations
5. The Magic World of Orson Welles
6. In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter
7. Orson Welles on Shakespeare: The
8. Orson Welles: The Stories of His
9. The War of the Worlds (Original
10. Orson Welles: A Biography
11. Orson Welles: The Pocket Essential
12. Orson Welles's Citizen Kane: A
13. Discovering Orson Welles
14. The Complete Films of Orson Welles
15. Citizen Welles: A Biography of
16. Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu
17. What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?:
18. The Trial (Modern Film Scripts)
19. Despite the System: Orson Welles
20. Orson's Shadow

1. This is Orson Welles
by Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Rosenbaum
Paperback: 592 Pages (1998-03-22)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$14.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 030680834X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Innovative film and theater director, radio producer, actor, writer, painter, narrator, and magician, Orson Welles (1915–1985) was the last true Renaissance man of the twentieth century. From such great radio works as "War of the Worlds" to his cinematic masterpieces Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Othello, Macbeth, Touch of Evil, and Chimes at Midnight, Welles was a master storyteller, as expansive as he was enigmatic. This Is Orson Welles, a collection of penetrating and witty conversations between Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, includes insights into Welles's radio, theater, film, and television work; Hollywood producers, directors, and stars; and almost everything else, from acting to magic, literature to comic strips, bullfighters to gangsters. Now including Welles's revealing memo to Universal about his artistic intentions for Touch of Evil, (of which the "director's edition" was released in Fall 1998) this book, which Welles ultimately considered his autobiography, is a masterpiece as unique and engaging as the best of his works.
Amazon.com Review
In 1992, the first publication of This Is Orson Wellesbrought a priceless document to light. In the late '60s and early'70s, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich had conducted extensive interviewswith Welles, but a number of circumstances--including the director'sdecision to compose an autobiography that he never got around towriting--kept the interviews out of the public eye. Edited andannotated by Jonathan Rosenbaum, these conversations give wonderfulinsights into Welles's craft and personality.He discusses his foraysinto acting, producing, and writing as well as directing, hisconfidences and insecurities, and his plans for film projects thatwere either never made or only partially completed. He also offersinsights into the triumph of Citizen Kane and latermasterpieces like The Lady from Shanghai, Touch of Evil,Othello, and Chimes at Midnight. His defense of hiscontroversial adaptation of Kafka's The Trial is so fascinatingthat readers might want to rush out and rent the film.

While the book is worth owning just for this 322-page interview, it isalso full of other material that is equally revealing. Rosenbaumpresents a meticulous chronology of Welles's life, closely followinghis day-to-day activities from his birth in 1915 to his death in1985. Anyone who thinks that Welles was an essentially lazy andprofligate artist will be astonished at how hard he worked and howmuch he accomplished, even after the completion of CitizenKane. Another treat found in the book is a detaileddescription--complete with rare photographic stills--of the originalMagnificent Ambersons, Welles's impressive follow-up toKane, which can now be seen only in a tragically truncatedversion.

This 1998 reissue of the volume contains a fond new introduction byBogdanovich and another crucial piece of Welles minutia, excerpts fromhis 58-page memo to Universal Pictures about the editing of Touchof Evil. Forty years after its composition, the material in thismemo has been used to create a restored "director's cut" ofthe film. With such grand material between two covers, This IsOrson Welles is the most informative and entertaining bookavailable on one of the 20th century's greatest artists. --RaphaelShargel ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully edited and organized collection of interviews is the first book on Welles you should have
Peter Bogdanovich interviewed Orson Welles on numerous occasions over the period from 1969-1972, recording the interviews on reel-to-reel tape and intending them for a book project, which alas took 20 years to get from planning stage to eventual publication, 7 years after the death of it's subject.It was worth the wait.Welles covers in his expansive, mostly generous and ebullient way his childhood, early creative years in the theater and on radio, and nearly the whole of his career as a director and some of his work as actor.There are personal anecdotes, reminiscences of other great filmmakers, jokes, and of course, sadness and regret at the way in which his career was often marginalized or trivialized, and especially at the ruination of most of his films by producers uninterested in "genius".

Bogdanovich and editor Jonathan Rosenbaum did a brilliant job in putting a shape to the book; it was wise I think that they edited it into a chronological form following Welles' life, rather than in the order that the interviews took place.There is much great material here about obscure and unfinished works like DON QUIXOTE and THE DEEP; politics; some of Welles' predecessors of note, like the similarly tragic Erich von Stroheim; and many of those who have succeeded him with the enfant terrible title, like Jean-Luc Godard.It's nice that editor Rosenbaum was able to keep some of the director's less politically-correct language intact; Welles was a liberal, a progressive and a humanist his whole life - but he was also born almost a hundred years ago, and we can't expect him to always fit our 2009 norms of behavior.

The last 200 pages of this lengthy book are taken up by a nearly day-by-day chronology of Welles' career, a reconstruction of the missing scenes of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, extensive end-notes, and a detailed index.My copy is the 1992 first edition; the 1998 edition adds an updated introduction by Peter Bogdanovich and excerpts from Welles' memo cocerning the editing of TOUCH OF EVIL - which can also be found on the newest DVD release of that film.Whatever edition you get, if you're a fan of the director at all, you owe it to yourself to have this book.Welles never got around to writing an autobiography - despite being a "one hit wonder" in the eyes of a lot of ignorant people who really ought to have known better, he was still working on what he loved - making films - right up until his death.In the absence of such a book, this will have to do, and will do, very nicely.

4-0 out of 5 stars This is Orson Welles
Fortunately, Orson Welles had a crucial influence in writing this book. Therefore it might be regarded as a truthful and helpful source in the attempt to approach this artist's view of his universe. It's a privilege and of high benefit to learn more about this great master of motion pictures. JKK

5-0 out of 5 stars Another comment on the Photographs
One review mentioned the poor quality of the photographs in this book.Poor isn't the word.Undecipherable is.I have never seen such horribly scanned photos in my life!Now, that doesn't mean this isn't a great fun read and a nice valuable source of information -- because it is.And don't buy the book for the photos anyway, as there aren't that many in there (Thank God!).It just amazes me that there was so much time and effort, not to mention years of interviews, put into a book like this, and then quality control is nonexistent in the photos.How could a publisher not be embarrassed?But if you are an Orson fan, or want to know more about him, I highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Meet Orson Welles by Peter Bagdanovich
THis book is a must, especially if you are in either Movies or TV.
It's a text for making movies. I've learned more about movie making after I read this book than I have in the entire 40 years I've been in the business.

John MoioThis is Orson Welles

4-0 out of 5 stars Words 10, Pictures 3
I enjoyed this book very much.It's a good read, informative and entertaining.Fans of Welles will feel that they are sitting in on a conversation between him and Bogdanovich (who asks insightful and pertinent questions, not noticeably obseqious), and that's lots of fun.You learn things about movies and about Welles, and even his evasive responses are interesting.

What nobody has mentioned so far is the photographs.There seems to have been some problem with the printing, and they look, in my copy at least, like 12th-generation photocopies:washed-out, grainy and almost indecipherable.Too bad, because there are a lot of them, some of them historic, and they are just really hard to look at.I don't understand it. ... Read more

2. Me and Orson Welles: A Novel
by Robert Kaplow
Paperback: 272 Pages (2009-11-11)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$4.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0042P56IK
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Now a major motion picture from acclaimed director Richard Linklater, starring Zac Efron, Claire Danes, and Ben Chaplin.

An irresistible romantic farce that reads like a Who's Who of the classic American theater, Me and Orson Welles is set during the launch of the then twenty-two-year-old Orson Welles' debut production of Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre on Broadway. Beautifully translated to screen by Richard Linklater, the film stars Zac Efron as Richard Samuels, a stage-struck seventeen-year-old from New Jersey who wanders onto the set and accidentally gets cast in the show, forever changing his life as he becomes caught in a vortex of celebrity, ego, art, and love.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a Memoir of the 30's--How did he do it?
I read this book after seeing the film and was amazed by several things. First how true the film had been to the book. The novel itself is wonderfully dramatic. Terrific dialog. Every page is a brilliant scene. Some so good I found myself repeating them to people. It seemed so very true to the subject I believed it must be a memoir and started wondering how old the author must be,Let's see 17 in 192--he must be 90 then and I never heard of him?
He re-creates Orson Welles Julias Ceasar from the inside. I could see the performance. I believed all the characters including "Fertilizer" young Joseph Cotten.
Then I find out the writer was born in the 50's?
Kudos to Mr.Kaplow from another creative writing teacher who is also a great fan of 30's culture.
Kaplow must have a time machine, though. It was suspiciously good.

I have ordered all his other books, parodies and YA's.
Yjis was one of those rare books I didn't want to end.

4-0 out of 5 stars The story is better than the writing
I enjoyed reading Me and Orson Welles, even after seeing the movie; but Kaplow's writing is stiff and artificial. Despite that, it's worth a read for insight into the way Welles worked (accurately depicted, according to other sources) and the coming-of-age of the young protagonist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book into movie
It's been turned into a movie (with the same name).I've yet to read the book, but from the reviews here, I'd say they captured the essence of the book.One of the few things left out is Richard's first romance, and Welles' anti-Semitism is toned down.

Since everybody here's read the book, I'd like to say that the movie is quite good.

I'd have to say that you could either read the book or see the movie first, and not be dissapointed with the second experience.The guy who plays Welles is remarkable.The Joseph Cotten and John Houseman characters look acceptably like the real people.

Someone complained about the grammar of the title.I read it as "[This is a story about] Me and Orson Welles".

Orson does not come acorss as a likeable character (in the movie he says he doesn't care if anybody likes him). Maybe that is more circumstantial evidence for "nice guys finish last".

4-0 out of 5 stars Love letter to 1937 NYC and a bygone era...
When I saw the trailer for the upcoming film Me and Orson Welles, I knew I had to read the book on which the movie is based. The story looked tailor-made to cater to my tastes - the clothes, the music, the theater of the time period, I love it all. With the book, Robert Kaplow has crafted a witty and insightful coming-of-age story that doubles as one of the best love letters to a bygone age that you could wish for.(Just a heads up, there is some off-color language in this book - I would've preferred a less, but if you can get past that the story is that the story is terrific!) In the late 1930s, America was in a depression with no thought of the war to come, and master songsmiths like Irving Berlin and Cole Porter were making their contributions to what would become known as the Great American Songbook. It was a "golden age," when American films featured stars like Gary Cooper and Cary Grant, and the theater was peopled by the likes of the Barrymores and young Orson Welles.

Into this glittering theatrical world, seventeen-year-old Richard Samuels literally stumbles upon his first acting job - a bit part in Welles's fledgling Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar. Full of big dreams and hopelessly idealistic, Richard has no idea what he's gotten into when he joins the production and finds himself in Orson Welles's starry orbit. Welles is a star on the rise and he knows it. The man is a pompous jerk but the allure of his genius is irresistibly strong and undeniable. In one short week, Richard probably learns more about life, love, and his own purpose and self-worth than many people do in an entire lifetime.

Richard's voice just shines and makes this novel a joy to read. He's worldly-wise yet naïve, sarcastic yet sweet - in other words, a typical teenager made up of all the confusion and contradictions that accompany that time of one's life. Kaplow also excels at building his setting - he absolutely nails NYC. The city itself is as much of a character as Richard or Welles, and reading the descriptive passages in the novel made the sights, sounds, and smells of the city come alive. This book is also one of the best mash-ups of fiction and historical fact that I've ever come across. I'm a huge classic film fan, so reading about Orson Welles's theatrical beginnings, or learning that actor Joseph Cotten was a member of the Mercury Theatre troupe, were absolutely fascinating. While I could never claim to be a Wellesian scholar, based on my perception of Orson Welles's character from his films that I've seen, Kaplow has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of the man. Every time Welles spoke on the page, it was his unmistakable voice that I heard in my head while reading.

If you've seen the television show Slings & Arrows, Me and Orson Welles comes as close as you could wish to capturing the humor, angst, and life found in the theater. Me and Orson Welles is a breezy, insightful, laugh-out-loud funny love letter to a golden age in American entertainment.

2-0 out of 5 stars Sentimental, Shallow Characters, and Poorly Written Dialogue
I read this book because Orson Welles was in the title. I heard about the movie, so I decided to read the book. I fully admit that I went in not expecting much. I read it for the association with Orson Welles, and nothing else. That being said I was still disappointed.
I expected the sentimentality and the shallow characters, but what I didn't expect was the modern slang, and consistent, poorly written dialogue. Furthermore, the portrayal of Welles was incredibly shallow; his character more or less only existed to propel the plot.

I don't know why I expected something better developed. I guess my expectations were too high. I hate the fact that it has suddenly become so PC to hate on one of the greatest artist that this world will ever see. Sure he had his flaws, but a passion for art reflects a passion for communication. A passion for communication reflects a passion for other people to communicate with. This book reflects Orson as an Actor only, and that's its primary mistake in the way it treats Orson's character. Orson was more than just an actor. ... Read more

3. Orson Welles: Volume 2: Hello Americans
by Simon Callow
Paperback: 560 Pages (2007-11-27)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$3.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140275177
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The first volume of Simon Callow's magisterial biography of Orson Welles was praised as a "splendidly entertaining, definitive work" by Entertainment Weekly. Now, this eagerly anticipated second volume examines the years following Citizen Kane up to the time of Macbeth, in which Welles's Hollywood film career unraveled. In close and colorful detail, Callow offers a scrupulous analysis of the factors involved, revealing the immense and sometimes self-defeating complexities of Welles's temperament as well as some of the monstrous personalities with whom he had to contend. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars If your knowledge of Orson Welles is shallow-read this biography by Simon Callow
Orson Welles volume II "Hello Americans" (title taken from an Orson Welles radio program of the 1940s) is a fine sequel to his first volume on the behemoth Welles called "Orson Welles: The Road to Xandau". This volume covers the years from 1941 to 1947. Callow has promised a third and final volume to the series covering the years from 1947 to the death of Welles in 1985.
The book begins with triumph for the boy genius! Welles saw his first and best film "Citizen Kane" given the royal treatment at a fabulous premier as he escorted the lovely Mexican actress Dolores del Rio on his fleshy arm. Welles would lose the support of top brass at Columbia Pictures never repeating the acclaim garned by Kane.
Orson Welles went to Brazil for the filming of "It's All True" which was supposed to be a film promoting good will with our American neighbors as the war clouds in Europe were about to break unleashing the horror of World War II, Welles arrived in South America where he played, cavorted, drank, ate and danced at carnival time. The film withered on the vine to the disgust of his creative associates and Hollywood executives. After over 100 pages of dense writing by biographer Callow we learn that nothing came of this project. The failure of his South American film was a signal that Welles was losing his popularity. As a cinematic genius he would continue to experiment with film the rest of his life producing a good deal of failures tempered by some successes. The last quarter century of his life would be spent in Europe.
Welles failed to win plaudits for the chopped up "The Magnificent Ambersons" which is still a fine filming of the Booth Tarkington chronicle of the rise and fall of a wealthy Indiana family in the early years of the twentieth century. His film "Journey Into Darkness" was a so-so film while the artistic "The Lady from Shangai" with ex-wife Rita Hayworth in the lead is considered an imperfect classic. Welles dyed Miss Hayworth's hair blonde for her starring role as a mysterious murderess. The scene in the Fun House with the mirror imagery is classic film.
During World War II Welles became a spokesperson for the administration of FDR. Welles was a liberal Democrat who spoke out against racial discrimination. Welles, to his great credit, was free of racial prejudice,
Welles toyed with politics writing a current events column for a newspaper syndicate and going on good will tours for Uncle Sam. He was not drafted but did consider himself a patriotic American. He was never a Communist.The McCarthy era gave him the willies leading to his leaving the states in 1947. Welles filmed the Shakespearean play "Macbeth" which was compared unfavorably to the Laurence Olivier hit
Orson Welles had less than an admirable character. He was a serial cheater during marriage to his second wife the stunningly beautiful sex goddess Rita Hayworth. The couple had a child named Rebecca but Welles was not interested in playing daddy. He had affairs with Lena Horne, Judy Garland and a legion of other ladies. He was a braggart with a Texas size ego who could be explosive and crude. Welles wanted you to do it his way or hit the highway. On the other hand, he could be witty, charming, kind and supportive of good causes. The man was as are repeatedly told a "genius" whatever that word is supposed to mean.
One wishes that Simon Callow would be able to finish volume three of his magnus opus on Orson Welles. Welles is essential for anyone wanting to explore cinema in the twentieth century. Simon Callow is his excellent biographer. Well done work of biography.

4-0 out of 5 stars Welles's Life, Part Two
The second volume of Simon Callow's admirable biography of Welles does full justice to Welles's work in radio, which extended far beyond his Mercury Theater On the Air.A great read about a great artist.

4-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book that I appreciated
For me, this was as much an introduction to a witty author as a way of tracing the fall of Orson Welles' career.I had never read any of Simon Callow's previous books, I was more familiar with his work as an actor, but only sightly.

I've missed something.His voice in prose is bright, and the light he throws on Welles here (and presumably in the first volume, which I intend reading) doesn't allow his subject to hide.

He's clearly sympathetic to Welles, but he doesn't let that sympathy overwhelm his perceptions.His observations on acting and directing have the added weight of someone who has, shall we say, dipped a toe or two in that pool...

HURRAH FOR CALLOW!A long and rewarding read with actor/author Callow in fine form as he reviews Welles from within the man himself, while weighing every scene and line-reading of Welles's works from The Magnificent Ambersons to Macbeth. This includes a close survey of all of Welles' radio and theatre works as well, which are weighed from within the art of acting. This is a book Welles himself would enjoy though it often takes him vastly to task. If the book has a problem it's that Callow spent ten years writing it and, now at age 78, I fear I may not be around to read the concluding volume(s)--and I'm sure two volumes will emerge from Callow's fine sifting of research materials at the Lilly Library's Welles Collection at Indiana University. As an aside, while reading this bio, I happened upon Callow's brief but inspired appearance in Howard's End as the pompous lecturer on Music & Meaning at the picture's opening where Boham Carter "steals" an umbrella, and caught him bouncing about bareassed at a country swimming hole in A Room with a View. Finally, Callow's work on stage and film sets (and his fine earlier biography of Charles Laughton) gives him special insight into each of the Welles works he studies: lighting, editing, makeup and so forth. Hey, he writes well too, no academese. Now if only Criterion would bring out Chimes at Midnight.

5-0 out of 5 stars The singer not the song
Appropriately for a book on Welles, there is some nifty sleight-of-hand here. Simon Callow's excellent writing and meticulous marshaling of facts distract us from seeing what should become plainer and plainer with each chapter: Welles is really not worth this kind of extended treatment. One great film, a handful of interesting clips thereafter, and a personal life not especially to be differentiated from that of many a spoiled, "infante terrible" hardly justifies 1200 pages...and counting.With ten years between volumes, the pushing-60 Mr.Callow will readily be exonerated if he abandons the project, and taxes his finite resources no further therein. ... Read more

4. Orson Welles: Interviews (Conversations With Filmmakers Series)
Paperback: 294 Pages (2002-02-20)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$17.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1578062098
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

This book brings together an exceptional array of interviews, profiles, and press conferences tracing the half century that Orson Welles (1915- 1985) was in the public eye. Originally published or broadcast between 1938 and 1989 in worldwide locations, these pieces confirm that Welles's career was multidimensional and thoroughly inter-woven with Welles's persona.

Several of them offer vivid testimony to his grasp on the public imagination in Welles's heyday, including accounts of his War of the Worlds broadcast. Some interviews appear in English for the first time. Two transcriptions of British television interviews have never before appeared in print. Interviewers include Kenneth Tynan, French critic André Bazin, and Gore Vidal.

The subjects center on the performing arts but also embrace philosophy, religion, history, and, especially, American society and politics. Welles confronts painful topics: the attempts to suppress Citizen Kane, RKO's mutilation of The Magnificent Ambersons, his loss of directorial authority, his regret at never having run for political office, and his financial struggles. "I would have sold my soul" to play Marlon Brando's role as Don Corleone in The Godfather, he tells a BBC interviewer.

Welles deflates the notion of the film director's omnipotence, insisting that it is only in the editing studio that he possesses "absolute control." With scholarly erudition, Welles revels in the plays of Shakespeare and discusses their adaptation to stage and screen. He assesses rival directors and eminent actors, offers penetrating analyses of Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, Chimes at Midnight, and The Third Man, and declares that he never made a film that lacked an ethical point-of-view. These conversations reveal the majestic mind and talent of Welles from a fresh perspective.

Mark W. Estrin, a professor of English and film studies at Rhode Island College, is editor of Conversations with Eugene O'Neill (University Press of Mississippi) and Critical Essays on Lillian Hellman and the author of numerous articles on film and dramatic literature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great selection of interviews, but one major problem...
For any fan of Welles, this is a must-have book, with some great pieces culled from 50 years of published newspaper and magazine articles. Just reading his words as he pontificates on a wide range of subjects, with special attention to his chosen fields of film and theatre, is to be in the presence of a wise, learned, and witty man who comes off as exuberant, vigorous and joyful, despite his physical condition during the later interviews and whatever financial problems he was embroiled in at each of the times he was interviewed. He manages to stimulate and/or revive the reader's interest in history, literature, cinema, theatre and the arts in general. I will not begrudge the editor and his team the honors they deserve for the hard work it took to compile these pieces and prepare them for the book, especially the ones that needed translating from another language.

The issue of translation, however, brings up a major problem I had. Four pieces were originally published in French, including two lengthy interviews co-conducted by the famed critic and theorist, Andre Bazin. All four are credited as being translated for this collection by Alisa Hartz. Nowhere does the editor indicate whether the interviews were conducted in English or French. Bazin's forward to the second of his interviews makes clear that it was conducted in English. Assuming this was so of all four interviews, it would mean the interviews were translated into French for their original publication and then re-translated into English for this volume, taking us two removes away from Welles' original words. Did the editor make an effort to find any original English transcripts or recordings, if they existed? I would like to have known that. Was any special effort made by the translator, when re-translating back into English, to try and capture Welles' particular style of speaking? The editor's failure to address this issue is a sore point for me. (One can, of course, turn to Peter Bogdanovich's collection of Welles interviews, "This is Orson Welles," Da Capo Press/1998, to read how Welles told some of the same stories to yet another interviewer.)

Also, minor problems stem from the constant accumulation of tantalizing hints of Welles projects-in-the-works and varying states of completion. A reference to a completed version of "Moby Dick," which Welles supposedly directed for English television, is left hanging. In more than one interview he insists that "Don Quixote" is almost finished. In one piece it is stated that he bought back "It's All True" from RKO and in the next, nearly two years later, it is stated he is still trying to find money to buy it back. He claims to have written a third of Howard Hawks' famous gender-bending comedy, "I Was a Male War Bride" and also claims that much of Buster Keaton's footage in Charlie Chaplin's "Limelight" was cut out by Chaplin. Were these claims corroborated in any way? Some explanatory footnotes would have been helpful throughout the book. Granted, other books have come along to straighten all this out, and I'm admittedly asking too much of the editor here to add to his own considerable task. But since I don't have the books that might answer the questions raised by these tidbits, I can't help but feel hungry for more.

Even so, there's tons of good material to savor, including an item about H.G. Wells suing Orson Welles over the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. There are plenty of Welles' thoughts, both positive and negative, on other film directors, including such predecessors as John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock, such contemporaries as John Huston and Nicholas Ray, and such successors as Stanley Kubrick. Welles admits he would have sold his soul to play "The Godfather." His passion for Shakespeare got me to wondering what Gore Vidal, another voracious reader of the classics, thought of Welles and if they ever even met. Sure enough, at the end of the book, there's a piece by Vidal called, "Remembering Orson Welles," which answered my questions. So I recommend the book highly, despite my reservations.

5-0 out of 5 stars A well Orson Welles.
These interviews... They overlap and conflict with themselves, they run contrary to what we think we know about Orson.However they do make sense.The man is incredibly well read and so inteligent.

Your reaction to this man and what he says is your own, I highly recomend this to you.From a point of view looking at how the book is compiled and the editor's job this book still maintains a 5-star rating.It is well put together from interviews that span his tumultuous career.Fantastic.

I watched Citizen Kane again just before this arrived from Amazon.I read the book and then I saw one of Welles' later movies F for Fake (criterion and very highly recomended.) and that made the book and movies come to life in new and great ways.

do yourself a favor and check them out!There is nothing like hearing what the artists have to say about their work!University Press of Mississippi has a very broad series of books with interviews of film makers.I recomend, as well, takign a look at them! ... Read more

5. The Magic World of Orson Welles
by James Naremore
Paperback: 328 Pages (1989-01-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 087074299X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the very best books yet on the cinema of Orson Welles
Certainly a must for any studious Orson Welles fan, Naremore's sympathies in this book lie pretty close to my own - he sees Welles as an independent "auteur", unconventional but not an avant-garde, and someone whose work, far from declining after his first young success with "Citizen Kane" continued to grow, change, and in some respects improve.If your feelings are at all similar - or you want to be convinced - of course I can highly recommend it. He focuses almost entirely on Welles' work, not his life, and within that still-wide area concentrates specifically on five films ("Citizen Kane", "The Magnificent Ambersons", "Touch of Evil", "The Trial", and "Chimes at Midnight") which are arguably the master's most important contributions to cinema. I disagree to a large extent with his views on "The Trial" but he's probably seen the film many more times than I have, and under better conditions -- certainly he makes me eager to get back and watch those Welles films that I've not seen so many times again and again. My favorite sections are probably those on 'Ambersons', a film I probably overrate but that Naremore offers some convincing arguments both for and against, and 'Chimes at Midnight'.

There are briefer discussions on Welles' other films as director, though curiously nothing at all on "Filming Othello" which may have at the time of this 2nd edition of the book (1985) not been listed as having been directed by Welles. Very little here on Welles' work as an actor (except in the film he also directed); some discussion on his radio work and incomplete films.

In any case, one of the very top books on Welles' work to date, most strongly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Welles book is tops
I have always been a fan of Orson Welles on radio and television.Having collected a ton of radio broadcasts on CD and audio cassette and having watched most of his movies, I appreciate the genius of his work.I picked up a copy of this book recently and am amazed at the amount of research put into it.An aspect of Welles rarely discussed is his magic career.At the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention this September in Aberdeen, Maryland, I plan to attend the presentation about Orson Welles and his magic career so I can watch rare footage and films with Welles, and get an even deeper insight to his trickery.Book comes recommended. ... Read more

6. In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles
by Chris Welles Feder
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2009-10-08)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$3.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565125991
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Out of all the many stars and celebrities Hollywood has produced, only a handful have achieved the fame—and, some would say, infamy—of Orson Welles, the creator and star of what is arguably the greatest American film, Citizen Kane. Many books have been written about him, detailing his achievements as an artist as well his foibles as a human being. None of them, however, has gotten so close to the real man as does Chris Welles Feder's beautifully realized portrait of her father. 

In My Father's Shadow is a classic story of a life lived in the public eye, told with affection and the wide-eyed wonder of a daughter who never stopped believing that someday she would truly know and understand her elusive and larger-than-life father. The result is a moving and insightful look at life in the shadow of a legendary figure and an immensely entertaining story of growing up in the unreal reality of Hollywood, enhanced by Welles Feder's collection of many never-before-seen family photographs.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Close to Orson Welles
Being a great admirer of Orson Welles for many many years, It was great to get a bird's eye view of the man by someone

so close to him.....his first daughter. The book rounded out the picture of O.W., his personality and could be the

last of books on him. I enjoyed its immensely.

4-0 out of 5 stars Deeper Than Expected
Most people will probably take up this book for its information about Orson Welles, looking perhaps for anecdotes and comments not previously mentioned by biographers of Welles, and that type of detail is here, but mainly a reader notices the discernment and depth of the discussion and especially how the author realizes that her intense, rare moments with her father must be cherished and gleaned for all the guidance and nurturing they can offer. It is smart to frame the material about her father in the broader context of Chris Welles Feder's own life--probably the only way a really good book (as opposed to a shallow, gossipy one) could come about. As so many other reviewers have rightly said, this book is a deep and pleasant surprise from beginning to end. I don't recall seeing any other review making this next claim, but I have read many books about Orson Welles, and even though this one frankly depicts his shortcomings (as well as his many endearing, laudable traits), I think he would have proudly approved of this book. He was too deep and too candid a person not to.

3-0 out of 5 stars Unflinching and honest
I just finished reading this book last night and I very much enjoyed it.It's not an easy book to read as the author is bravely and brutally honest about herself, her family, their dysfuctions, her crippling shyness and inability to articulate much of anything in the face of so many larger-than-life personalities.Like so many of us born to strong-willed, controlling and ultimately unhappy parents, Christopher Feder endures neglect, insufficient and too much attention as well as crippling guilt (both self-inflicted and that bestowed upon her by the supposedly caring adults in her life).Despite the deep unhappiness she endured at the hands of her appalling stepfather plus deliberate and unthinking cruelty from her mother, father and stepmother, she still comes out at the end with enormous compassion and understanding of her family.

This isn't really a biography of Orson Welles (and it doesn't claim to be).This is a biography of Orson's daughter and how her life is created, formed and lived around him and his needs as well as that of her mother's.And how Christopher finally broke away from them and forged a life of her own.(I also wish there had been more details about her half-sisters and her uncle Richard, but perhaps she truly doesn't know what happened to them.)

1-0 out of 5 stars Dont
If you desire to know about his daughter, then buy this book, if you desire to kow more about Mr Welles.DONT BUY THIS book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Waiting for Welles
Christopher Feder has written a compelling memoir about her life as the oldest child of Orson Welles. Hers is a story of great joys and perhaps greater disappointments as she repeatedly seeks the love and approval of her largely absent, larger-than-life father. The book contains wonderful stories about growing up in Hollywood. It also shows the degree to which Federer came into her own as a person and writer and, fortunately for us, out of the shadow of her father. ... Read more

7. Orson Welles on Shakespeare: The W.P.A. and Mercury Theatre Playscripts
Paperback: 320 Pages (2001-09-26)
list price: US$32.95 -- used & new: US$28.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0415937264
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This volume is the only publication available of the fully annotated playscripts of Wells' W.P.A Federal Theatre Project and Mercury Theatre adaptations, including the "Voodoo" Macbeth, the modern-dress Julius Caesar and Welles' compilation of history plays, Five Kings. ... Read more

8. Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life
by Peter Conrad
Paperback: 368 Pages (2005-01-15)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$6.24
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Asin: 057121164X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A fresh, provocative look at one of the most enigmatic figures in the history of film by "one of our most acute cultural critics" (Paul Fussell)

Orson Welles was a metamorphic man, a magical shape-changer who made up myths about himself and permitted others to add to their store. On different occasions, he likened himself to Christ--mankind's redeemer--and to Lucifer--the rebel angel who brought about the fall.His persona compounded the roles he played--kings, despots, generals, captains of industry, autocratic film directors--and the more or less fictitious exploits with which he regaled other people or which they attributed to him. Hailed in childhood as a genius, he remained mystified by his own promise, unable to understand or control an intellect that he came to think of as a curse; and he ended his days shilling wine and performing magic tricks on talk shows. At times, he saw the collapse of his early ambitions as a tragedy; in other moods, he viewed his life as a humbling comedy, and settled down--like another favorite character, Shakespeare's Falstaff --to eat, drink and be irresponsibly merry.

Rather than producing another conventional biography of Welles, Peter Conrad has set out to investigate the stories Welles told about his life--the myths and secret histories hidden in films both made and unmade, in the books Welles wrote and those he read. The result takes us deep into Welles' imagination, showing how he created, then ultimately destroyed himself.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rich And Strange
Entertaining glimpse into a big man's many personalities.Conrad's schema is sweet: each chapter takes an established archetype and then shows the many ways in which Orson Welles seemed to try out each role and alter it as he saw fit.

Welles seems corny, as though he actually believed that he was bigger than life, but ultimately Conrad saves Welles from himself and his own delusions of grandeur.

One of the roles is "Everybody."There was a decidedly essentialist streak to Orson Welles, and when he directed Eartha Kitt as Helen in his version of Faustus, she was confounded when he told her his directorial rules, that she was required to play "every woman at every age in every historical time period."Sometimes Conrad plays the game a little too wellm he could cut himself he's so clever, as when he notices that the Mercury Shakespeare Welles edited was originally published as "Everybody's Shakespeare."But even as this example shows, it's telling all the same, and says something about Welles that I had never thought of before, and I don't expect any previous writer on Welles has either.

There's a chapter on "Mercury" (aha, thought of one already!), on "Prospero," on "Quixote," on "Peter Pan," "Kurtz," "Falstaff," and chapters on such vaguer archetypes as the "Lord of Misrule," the "Sacred Beasy," the "Renaissance Man," each chapter packed with dozens of insights and more than your ordinary share of whimsy.

If you're up for making the trip, this could be a valuable book.If not, you might find it too rich, like Jack Horner pulling plum after plum out an impossibly greasy pie.

PS, all the archetypes are very male, I wonder if Conrad considered any female archetypes for surely Welles tried these on too?

5-0 out of 5 stars The Whole Career
I thought this was a very interesting book on Welles.It is not a conventional biography.Peter Conrad covers Welles' career by looking at the various archetypes that Welles played/embodied/wrote about during his career:boy genius, Faust, Falstaff, etc.

It takes a while to get used to the book.Making a judgment after five minutes is a mistake.Once you get into Conrad's groove, leaping from Welles' radio work to stage, to movies in the space of a chapter makes sense.He shows how echoes of "Citizen Kane" recur in later Welles' projects, and how unrealized things like "Heart of Darkness" influenced the projects Welles was able to pull off.

The best thing about the book was that it covered all of Welles' career, instead of saying:"And after RKO took 'Magnificent Ambersons' away, Welles became a big fat loser."Conrad shows there was a consistency and throughlines in Welles' disrupted career.

1-0 out of 5 stars What a bunch of junk!
I'm a librarian, and I threw this book away after five minutes. Conrad is the kind of author who tries to find some significance in comparing (Welles' made-up term) "pan-focus" with aspects of the god Pan. The book was filled with this sort of unrelenting BS word-play and devoid of any real research or insights. "Despite the System" offers a far better return of time and money for the Welles fan.

... Read more

9. The War of the Worlds (Original 1938 Radio Adaptaion)
by H.G. Wells, Orson Welles, The Mercury Theatre on theAir
Audio CD: Pages (2003-02)
list price: US$4.98 -- used & new: US$3.95
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Asin: 1570195501
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Original uncut Radio Broadcast! on the evening of October 30th, 1938, Earth went to war with Mars! Martians invaded New Jersey! The famous panic broadcast that shook the world starring Orson Welles. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Have!
First, I am diappointed that television and computers were invented; with television, you lose your immagination; with computers you lose your intellict; that beingsaid, radio had the answer; listen, and immagine; no eyes, no lights, just the pleasure of being alone. War of the Worlds is a radio drama using briilance, and intellict. Orson Wells did an awesome job, and to this day it was then, and will be a masterpiece. For that reason, and so many which I can not name, find as many of the radio dramas you can find, and put all of them up against any Television program; radio will win! Orson Wells did so many radio shows on the Mercury theater, and Campbells soup; they were all great but War of the worlds made you think, wonder, immagine, and listen caefully!
An awesome masterpiece which rules!

5-0 out of 5 stars Still Good, But Dated
The Mercury Theater produced what turned into an Event that made broadcast history.Books have been written on the broadcast, but often what's missing is the context in which it was aired.The time was shortly before the United States became significantly involved in World War II.International twensions were building, and the beginning of the broadcast, with "Ls {sloma," as being played by Ramon Raquello and his orchestra being interrupted by a news bulletin seemed all too realistic, especially for those who tuned in a bit late and weren't aware of the introduction, nor that they werelistening to the
Mercury Theater.
In these days of space probes and planetary missions, a listener might wonder just how the Martian spacecraft could zip from Mars to Earth as rapidly as they did, but for the time, the "news coversge" was pretty convincing.More than 60 years later, it still holds up pretty well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Faith in Science Misplaced
Interesting to listen to; note the extreme confidence of scientists and the military when initailly confronted by the Martians, an optimism that turns to despair when it hits home that Earthlings do not stand a chance. Also amusing to note the accents and diction of the radio announcers, very similar to the accents of radio and television announcers in the SouthPark cartoon series; no doubt Trey Parker and Matt Stone were lampooning the way Americans used to speak and sound, and of how current media has been "dumbed" down to serve a less literate listening and viewing public.

2-0 out of 5 stars Poor quality version of a classic
There's a reason that this CD is priced so low.My low rating has nothing to do with the material itself, but the poor quality audio.Welles's outstanding oratory skills and clever sound effects are overwhelmed by the low levels of the vocal track combined with an unrelenting hiss.The CD isn't even good for "old-timey" atmosphere, since *in between* the words of the original program they seemingly removed noise so there is a kind of "stutter".It's like listening to the show over a bad voice-activated radio circuit.Underwater.

By all means, get this classic recording.Just get it in abetter, cleaned-up version.This CD is no bargain.

5-0 out of 5 stars Still scary after all these years

This (in)famous radio play is beautifully acted and produced, and even now, after all the advances in what might be called fright technology, remains creepy. The writing (now seemingly a lost art in broadcasting) is also terrific: a nice adaptation of Wells' elegant prose, just purple enough for this sort of material. It's nice to see this great broadcast given the (relative) immortality of the CD format.
... Read more

10. Orson Welles: A Biography
by Barbara Leaming
Paperback: 578 Pages (2004-07-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0879101997
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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"...[A] beautifully researched, valuable study of one of America's most influential and mysterious artists. ...[What] makes this book remarkable is Welles's own contribution. His comments, opinions, interviews cut in and out of the narrative with an almost cinematic force." -Patricia BosworthAmazon.com Review
While it is a shame that Orson Welles, great filmmaker andmaster raconteur, never wrote a full account of his life, this book isthe next best thing to a Welles autobiography. Barbara Leaming's mainsources are the hundreds of hours of interviews she conducted withWelles in the three years before his death. Though clearly biasedtoward its subject, this book benefits considerably from Welles's witand charm, which can be felt in Leaming's summaries of the director'sexperiences and in the generous number of quotations from Welleshimself. At Leaming's urging, and to the reader's great pleasure,Welles recounts the whole of his fascinating life, discussing hisrelationship with his parents and guardians; his early promise as amusical and artistic prodigy; his brilliant successes in the theaterwhile still a teenager; his foundation--with John Houseman--of theMercury theater; the legendary radio broadcast of The War of theWorlds; the triumph of Citizen Kane; the successful effortsof RKO studios to alter and crush the films he made after Kane;his friendship with Franklin Roosevelt; his marriage to Rita Hayworthand countless other affairs (including a rhapsody on Dolores del Rio'scustom-made underwear, if that's your cup of tea); his relationshipwith Oja Kodar; and his later film career in America and Europe. Anentertaining read that unfolds like a good novel, Orson Wellesoffers a perspective on the maestro's life that deserves to becompared to more recent biographies of Welles by Frank Brady, SimonCallow, and David Thomson, all of which have prejudices of theirown. --Raphael Shargel ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Boy Wonder, Cinematic Genius, Exile, Spendthrift, Failure, All of the Above
I have read several books about Orson Welles, including biographies, critical reviews and essays. What sets this volume apart is the biographer had complete access to Welles and the cooperation of his many associates.

While the biography is thorough, some readers may complain that it is not entirely free of meandering. Of course, others may argue that the digressions on the part of Welles may be the best parts. Too many people recall Welles as the overweight commerial pitchman for Paul Masson wines and as a late night television guest. I was surprised to learn, therefore, that the first book that Welles (as a high school student) authored was a popular instructional manual for coaches on successful basketball techniques! Leaming reminds us that in his prime, Welles was a handsome and much sought after celebrity who managed to conduct romances with many of Hollywood's top female stars. Thrice married, Welles' most notable bride was Rita Hayworth. He also struggled against considerable odds to produce a dozen motion pictures inside and outside of the studio system while begging for the funds to complete his projects.

Welles was a prolific writer who continually revised his scripts (much to his producers' dismay), punched out a syndicated newspaper column and produced a novel. Contrary to critic Pauline Kael's influential essay, Welles did have a hand in writing the screenplay of "Citizen Kane."

Great fun.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Autobiography of Orson Welles, genius or madman!
Orson Welles was a genius of a film director, actor, producer, writer, and anything else he wanted to do but it didn't mean that he wasn't difficult. On the contrary, his genius may have allowed him to be a difficult man in real life. Even though he left an enormous legacy in his films, he was the master and is still regarded by directing one of the most highly regarded films in cinema history, Citizen Kane, loosely based on Randolph William Hearst and his life. Barbara Leaming's biography is more towards praising him while he was still alive rather than berating his behavior at times. This biography might be the kindest of Orson Welles around. While there are other books about Welles, this book is well worthy of reading anyway. Orson Welles was a remarkable man whose legacy can never really be outdone.

5-0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles and Magic
I have always been a fan of Orson Welles on radio and television. Having collected a ton of radio broadcasts on CD and audio cassette and having watched most of his movies, I appreciate the genius of his work. I picked up a copy of this book recently and am amazed at the amount of research put into it. An aspect of Welles rarely discussed is his magic career. At the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention this September in Aberdeen, Maryland, I plan to attend the presentation about Orson Welles and his magic career so I can watch rare footage and films with Welles, and get an even deeper insight to his trickery. Book comes recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Only Biography from Welles's Perspective
There are many biographies of Orson Welles but only one was written with his cooperation. Welles never wrote his autobiography past his childhood, so along with This Is Orson Welles, this is all we have to judge his life from, using his words. Despite the book's many flaws, most glaringly without details about many of Welles's most important films and with only bar and the fact that Leaming does seem to be very obsequious toward her subject, it still captures much of his personal life, especially with Rita Hayward. Overall, the book is intoxicating and a very compelling read considering the many other biographies about Welles, most of which are full of hyperbole and outright lies about the man, his life and his work.

To get the best idea of Welles, read this book along with This Is Orson Welles, to get an idea about Welles's ideas about his movie and stage careers, Citizen Welles which is a fair overview of his life without hyperbole and Whatever Happened to Orson Welles, which focuses on Welles's career from the 1960s to his death. All of which add up to get a real picture of this man who created some of the greatest films of the 20th century and wanted to be a mystery above all other things.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre, Irritating and Incomplete
Sifting through hundreds of hours of personal interviews with the enigmatic Orson Welles in the years before his death, Barbara Leaming presents an uneven and obsequious biography.She is entirely dependent on her interviews of Welles for the bulk of her work and seems to have spent little time in developing differing views on Welles.Perhaps Welles, who always wanted to dominate his surroundings, found Miss Leaming compliant and ready to write the biography Welles desired.

The author succeeds best in painting a picture of the rise of Orson Welles.His mother, Beatrice, not only introduced young Welles to Chicago's artsy society, but to her friend Da Da Bernstein, who considered Welles to be a prodigy at an early age.Bernstein was Welles' first mentor. As a teen, Welles was sent to the artsy Todd School and acquired another mentor, the drama teacher Roger "Skipper" Hill.Soon, Welles' career on stage rocketed and he landed on Broadway at 18 acting and producing.He was a wonder.On top of this, his powerful, distinctive voice landed him on radio, where he made his money, leading to the radio caper of "The War of the Worlds".Hollywood called and "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons" soon followed.

But Welles' career stumbled afterwards.Very few of his movies made money.His directorships of movies were erratic and his relationships with the studio bosses were desultory.Thus, Welles became a vagabond director and actor and often had to use his acting salary to supplement production costs of HIS movies.Always scambling for production money, what he did produce after World War Two were generally fly-by-night, patchwork movies, most of which were unmarketable.His career had peaked by his mid-twenties.By the end of his life, he was reduced to audio voiceovers and a three year stint endorsing Paul Masson wines of which he was fired for his arrogant meddling in the production of the spots.Welles always had to be in charge and bridled when under the authority of others.

Miss Leaming leaves out details of Welles' career that he seems not to have wanted to discuss with her.For instance, Welles' acting in "Jane Eyre", "The Third Man" and "The Long, Hot Summer" receive less space in this book than Welles' poodle, KiKi.To a very annoying degree, the author interjects herself often in this book and in great depth.This biography is a case of a self-absorbed woman writing about a man who is even more self-absorbed. ... Read more

11. Orson Welles: The Pocket Essential Guide
by Martin Fitzgerald
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-03-12)
list price: US$4.49
Asin: B0024NP3JY
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Who was Welles? A fat guy with a deep voice who drank a lot of sherry? An unreliable film-maker who always went over time and over budget? One of the most innovative storytellers of the century? He was all of this ana more. Welles shocked Broadway with his all-black voodoo version of Macbeth, challenged the US government with his production of The Cradle Will Rock, terrified America with his spoof radio broadcast of The War Of The Worlds, and then at the tender age of 26, directed what many consider the greatest American film ever made: Citizen Kane.

The popular myth is that it was all downhill from there, that Welles became a fallen genius yet, despite overwhelming odds, he went on to make great film noirs like The Lady From Shanghai and Touch Of Evil. He translated Shakespeare's work into films with heart and soul - Othello, Chimes At Midnight and Macbeth. And he refused to take the bite out of modern literature, giving voice to bitterness, regret and desperation in The Magnificent Ambersons and The Trial. Far from being down and out, Welles became one of the first cutting-edge independent film-makers.

What's in this book? As well as the introductory essay Labyrinth Without A Centre, each of Welles' films is analysed and there is a handy multi-media reference guide.

Martin Fitzgerald has written Pocket Essentials on Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Woody Allen.

... Read more

12. Orson Welles's Citizen Kane: A Casebook (Casebooks in Criticism)
Paperback: 304 Pages (2004-07-22)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 019515892X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Citizen Kane is arguably the most admired and significant film since the advent of talking pictures. No other film is quite so interesting from both artistic and political points of view. To study it even briefly is to learn a great deal about American history, motion-picture style, and the literary aspects of motion-picture scripts. Rather than a sterile display of critical methodologies, James Naremore has gathered a set of essays that represent the essential writings on the film. It gives the reader a lively set of critical interpretations, together with the necessary production information, historical background, and technical understanding to comprehend the film's larger cultural significance. Selections range from the anecdotal -- Peter Bogdanovich's interview with Orson Welles -- to the critical, with discussions on the scripts and sound track, and a discussion of what accounts for the film's enduring popularity. Contributors include James Naremore, Peter Bogdanovich, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Robert L. Carringer, Francois Thomas, Michael Denning, Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen, and Paul Arthur. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive commentary on the greatest movie ever
As a "student" of this film for many years, I of course had to give this a try, though I've read many other analysis articles and books before on the greatest film of all times, which CITIZEN KANE definitely is. What makes this book different and really enjoyable is that Naramore, the editor, compiles various articles/essays that look at KANE from different perspectives and concentrating on different aspects of it.

To me, the most interesting chapters were an interview with Orson Welles conducted by Peter Bogdonovich (very revealing) and another, a detailed history by Robert Carringer of all the many drafts of the screenplay showing how the story concept evolved over time. Of course, there is also a commentary by Naramore himself on the style and meaning of the film that is definitely worth reading as well. But having mentioned these three, let me say that the entire package is a great read.

If you're as great a fan of this film as I am, I think this is the best and most comprehensive look at it that you can find. After reading, as can be predicted, I had to get the DVD out and see KANE yet again - and did. It's great when, though you can't count the number of times you've seen a favorite film, something like this book comes along to give you new reasons to see it one more time.
... Read more

13. Discovering Orson Welles
by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Paperback: 346 Pages (2007-05-02)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$22.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520251237
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Of the dozens of books written about Orson Welles, most focus on the central enigma of Welles's career: why did someone so extravagantly talented neglect to finish so many projects? Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum has long believed that to dwell on this aspect of the Welles canon is to overlook the wealth of information available by studying the unrealized works. Discovering Orson Welles collects Rosenbaum's writings to date on Welles--some thirty-five years of them--and makes an irrefutable case for the seriousness of his work, illuminating both Welles the artist and Welles the man. The book is also a chronicle of Rosenbaum's highly personal writer's journey and his efforts to arrive at the truth. The essays, interviews, and reviews are arranged chronologically and are accompanied by commentary that updates the scholarship. Highlights include Rosenbaum's 1972 interview with Welles about his first Hollywood project, Heart of Darkness; Rosenbaum's rebuttal to Pauline Kael's famous essay "Raising Kane"; detailed essays and comprehensive discussions of Welles's major unfinished work, including two unrealized projects, The Big Brass Ring and The Cradle Will Rock; and an account of Rosenbaum's work as consultant on the 1998 re-editing of Touch of Evil, based on a studio memo by Welles. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Discovering Orson Welles
I was hoping for more of a biography of his life rather than
a review of his works.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best recent Welles titles, by one of the pre-eminent scholars of the filmmaker's work
Former "Chicago Reader" chief film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum has dedicated much of his career to an exploration of the work of America's greatest - and most misunderstood - filmmaker, editing the book of interviews "This is Orson Welles", contributing to the most recent re-edit of TOUCH OF EVIL, transalting an Andre Bazin book on Welles into English, etc.He had the fortune to meet the director once himself, as a young critic, in Paris in the early 1970s, and that brief meeting has repercussions and echoes that appear throughout this, his first collection of essays devoted entirely to Welles.

Most of the material gathered here is previously published, though much of it is heavily re-edited and re-worked to form something of a chronological history of Rosenbaum's own relationship to Welles, his work, and other Welles writers and scholars.The earliest piece is a rebuttal to Pauline Kael's "Raising Kane", from 1971; the most recent, an edited transcript of a lecture from 2005.Rosenbaum concentrates, rightly in my mind, on lesser-known and mostly later portions of Welles' career, from unfinished works like THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, DON QUIXOTE and THE DEEP to completed but obscure major creations such as FILMING 'OTHELLO' and THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH.He's at his best in his lengthy explorations of such minutiae as the many different version of MR. ARKADIN; and he's not at his best when being occasionally petty in slamming other critics or writers.Then again, the conventional wisdom on Welles as argued over the years by people like Kael and Robert Carringer is that he was a one-hit wonder and a profligate who wasted his talent; if people like Jonathan Rosenbaum occasionally feel the need to get their dander up in indignantly arguing the obvious - that this was a filmmaker of prodigious talent who managed, against all odds, to keep doing great work under the most difficult of circumstance, should we blame them?

Very little of the book is spent on Welles' acting or radio careers - Rosenbaum's focus is on the director, not on his other endeavors (or his personal life for that matter).A reasonably thorough and up-to-date (2007) appendix on the state of Welles' films and their availability closes out this terrific book, essential to the serious Wellesian.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best Orson Welles book out today
Having just finished Peter Tonguette's book on the later days of Welles, I was really re-inspired to read more about my favorite film director.I knew Jonathan Rosenbaum to be a dedicated Welles scholar and I was excited to see this book.It's simply a fantastic book featuring Rosenbaum's articles over the years on Welles.

If you're a Welles fan, you need to get this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles and Magic
I have always been a fan of Orson Welles on radio and television. Having collected a ton of radio broadcasts on CD and audio cassette and having watched most of his movies, I appreciate the genius of his work. I picked up a copy of this book recently and am amazed at the amount of research put into it. An aspect of Welles rarely discussed is his magic career. At the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention this September in Aberdeen, Maryland, I plan to attend the presentation about Orson Welles and his magic career so I can watch rare footage and films with Welles, and get an even deeper insight to his trickery. Book comes recommended. ... Read more

14. The Complete Films of Orson Welles
by James Howard
 Paperback: 254 Pages (1991-06)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$7.85
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Asin: 0806512415
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15. Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles
by Frank Brady
 Paperback: 655 Pages (1990-03-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$3.87
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Asin: 0385267592
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars decent read
While not exhaustive, this is certainly a well-rounded bio of Orson, complete with information and anecdotes about almost everything he's done. I certainly learned a lot, and most of it was even interesting.

The book is set up chronologically, but I actually found myself just subject-surfing the index.

If I have any complaint, it's the writing style has a bit too much "hero-worship" of Welles. Don't get me wrong: I love the man, but recognize his flaws, and the book occasionally delved into apologetic on some of those matters. This is forgivable, though, and could certainly have been worse.

All in all, recommended reading if you're interested in him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles was a genius!
I had always heard that Orson Welles was eccentric and weird. Having read this book I realize that he was extremely talented and energetic. His mind was always working. His genius was stifled by the movie studios who most times failed to recognize his vision. This book is a detailed telling of the many projects, most of them overlapping, of Orson Welles. From radio, to the stage, to screen, back to radio, back to the stage, back to screen. Even when he didn't claim critical success, there was always something magical about his work. If you are looking for sordid accounts of love affairs---this isn't the book for you. By reading this book you will gain an even greater appreciation for the passion Orson Welles had for acting and directing. Very well written.

4-0 out of 5 stars Citizen Welles is a Fine Biography
Frank Brady is a professor who knows how to write interesting prose about the fascinating figure of Orson Welles. Welles was a prodigy as a child who reach the heights of film glory with Citizen Kane! Brady points out that Welles excelled in radio, television, the movies and on the legitimate stage.
Welles was a man of Falstaffian stature whose appetites were
gargantuan whether it be wine, women, song and brilliant productions of his creative mind.
This book is not a candidate for the E True Hollywood Story or the National Enquirer! Brady provides a detailed account of the reason Welles will be remembered-his work in popular culture
for several decades.
Anyone wishing to know more about Welles, media in America or the difficulty of being a genius maverick in Hollwood will derive profit from this excellent biography. Highly Recommended!

4-0 out of 5 stars Brady's bio a lively yet academic examination of Welles
Frank Brady's "Citizen Welles" is one of the most well-respected biographies of Welles, and still one of the most underrated. Let me explain. Brady's book actually qualifies as a very early examination ofWelles' life, beating Bogdanovich's "This is Orson Welles" andSimon Callow's "Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu" onto theshelves by many years. It perhaps is not thought of as an early workbecause its publication was delayed several years due to trouble Brady'spublishers had, not him. If it had been released when Brady first completedit, it probably would have earned much more acclaim than it already has. Brady anticipates much of the interest surrounding Welles and answers manykey questions surrounding the man. He also thoroughly examines many areasof the famous man's life previously ignored by Welles historians, includingWelles' abortive South American trip, which damaged Welles in Hollywood farmore than "The Magnificent Ambersons" trauma or the battle Welleshad to fight to get "Citizen Kane" released. Brady also avoidsthe awful bias of earlier works by Houseman and Kael that so maceratedWelles, telling the man's story with frankness and understanding. It shouldbe the first book anyone reads about Welles, and the book referred to byanyone reading any other work on the mythic director. With movies on Wellesin production for HBO and the big screen (Tim Robbins' "The CradleWill Rock"), interest in Welles only increases with time. That makesBrady's exhaustively-researched and smoothly-written book a keeper.

5-0 out of 5 stars A well-researched, objective account of a fascinating artist
Frank Brady's biography dismantles the endless rumors and fabrications surrounding the life of Orson Welles. It is different from most of the other biographies on Welles in that it relies very heavily on research.Other biographies seem to subjective, and pay too much attention to thelies Welles sometimes told about himself.Ladies and gentleman, if you'reinto Welles, this is the one. A class 'A' "Mercury Theatre"production. ... Read more

16. Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu
by Simon Callow
Hardcover: 656 Pages (1996-01-01)
list price: US$32.95 -- used & new: US$12.55
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Asin: 0670867225
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The first of a comprehensive, two-volume biography traces Welles's portentous childhood, his youth in New York, where he worked with director John Houseman, his notorious radio career, and the making of Citizen Kane. 25,000 first printing. Tour.Amazon.com Review
Now in paperback, Callow's vastly entertaining chronicle ofWelles's first 26 years seems even finer than it did in 1995. Theauthor's ability to skewer his subject's evasions and lies whileretaining critical affection for him is perhaps explained by the factthat Callow, an actor himself, understands the need tomythologize. Welles's innovative theatrical work in the 1930s hasnever been better described or analyzed. Even such oft-told sagas asthe War ofthe Worlds broadcast and the filming of Citizen Kane gainnew dimension from Callow's intelligent treatment. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars a (rare) factual book on Welles
Orson Welles, by his very nature, made himself an almost impossible subject for biography. He told so many stories about himself that in later life, even he didn't know what the truth was anymore. He also spent most of his life as the ultimate hustler living a roll that was bigger than anything he ever played.

The genius of this book is that it cuts through the nonsense and gives us the truth about Welles...or as close as anyone will ever get. He lays bear the rise of the boy genius from school into the theater, on to radio and then to Hollywood. The theater portions are the best part of the book. In some ways, just the portions of the book dealing with Welles in the theater would have been enough for a great work. We get a level of detail about each production that no other book really provides. The author also avoids the obvious tendancy to focus on the sensational and gossip.

There is nothing new really in terms of Citizen Kane because that particular set of events was long-ago mined for anything of worth by many others. The coverage of Welles on Radio isn't as complete as his work in the theater, but its still good.

I think Peter Bogdonovich appears way too much in the book. As a source, he is rather flawed in the sense that he is so devoted to promoting the Welles legacy.

The author, in my opinion, comes just short of saying that the manic portion of Welles career was fueled by amphetamines. He drops every hint in the deck but only comes close to saying it once. I'm not sure what the sensativity is about it at this point. I suppose it could be lack of final confirmation from the inside.

What comes across in the book is a talented Welles whose attempts at self-promotion ultimately destroyed everything he did. At every stage of the book, he seems more intrested in creating the aura of genius and being publically acclaimed rather than methodically creating works. The book shows him burning every bridge behind him on a trajectory for hollywood. The book ends with him at the apex with nowhere left to go but down.

5-0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles: From Kenosha boy genius to Hollywood Outcast in volume I of the Callow multivolume bioography
Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1915. His wild father loved dames, booze and travel while making an upper class living in industry. His mother was a socialite well known in church and community. His older brother had mental problems and spent time in an institution. And so the scene is set for the Kenosha kid the inimitable huckstere, magician, director, actor, storyteller and good time Charlie we call Citizen Welles!
Orson studied at the prestigious private Todd School for boys near Chicago. He did well at Todd, acting in student productions; directing plays and becoming the big man on campus. Welles did not go to college but instead became an actor on the Dublin Gate Theatre stage for a period of ten months. He was on his rocket ride to the top of the slippery slope of showbiz.
Welles became an actor in the prestigious Katherine Cornell company touring the nation. He wed his first wife Virginia, sired a daughter but kept busy whoring around town. Wells had a gargantuan appetite for food, drink, women, the stage and fame. He was tempermental and liked to receive all of the credit for collaborative efforts. Welles was often vain and childish. He could be a tyrant or pussycat depending on his mood.
Welles was the voice on countless radio programs earning him a comfortable living. He teamed with John Houseman in the Harlem "Macbeth" which was a sensation of the New York branch of the Federal Theatre Administration during the Great Depression.
Wells hosted and created the Mercury Theatre on the air becoming notorious for the 1938 production of "The War of the Worlds. He was lured to Hollywood directing what has been considered the greatest American film of all time: "Citizen Kane" in 1941. The movie was controversial being based on the life of William Randolph Hearst.
This book focuses on the career of Welles on stage and screen. The book does report the private life of Welles but does so in a tasteful manner free of innuendo or gossip. Welles comes across as massively egotistical, selfish, sybaritic and self-destructive. He was, despite his faults, a genius of show business.
Simon Callow is a famous British actor and writer who has served his subject well in this massive volume one which takes us through Citizen Kane and ends in 1941,

4-0 out of 5 stars George Orson Welles
This is a fantastic, very detailed and rather objective biography of the boy genius of the theatre world. 600 pages about Welles for only the first 26 years of his life is a lot, but definitly worth all the details.

The author basically tells Orson's early life around the plays he directed and that were his life at the time. It is amazing to me how a 14 year old kid was able to succesfully direct Shakespeare plays and even write a book on how to understand Shakerpeare's work.

The book gives great details on every single play he directed, radio shows he produced, the making of citizen Kane and on a broader scale gives a great insight on what broadway was like during the 30s. The account of the war of the world radio broadcast that terrorised the northern US on halloween night 1938 will make you relive the moment as if you were there.

I highly recommend this biography to any fan of Orson Welles or anyone who is interested in the history of broadway or the theatre in general.

5-0 out of 5 stars The American
Simon Callow's thick and detailed biography of Orson Welles is a staggeringly thorough account of the actor/director's life, from his birth up until the release of his most famous picture, CITIZEN KANE.Callow goes to great lengths to separate the man from his inhumanly grandiose reputation.Armed with years of research, his personal interviews, and a keen sense of humor, Callow sets off to discover the real early life of Orson Welles.He finds a man smaller than his gargantuan myth, yet fascinating and brilliant all the same.

Orson Welles is a notoriously difficult man to write about with any great degree of accuracy.This is attributable to the fact that Welles seems to have spent almost as much time publicizing his work as he spent creating.The difficulty arises when one realizes that the majority of what he said wasn't strictly accurate, and yet it's that publicity which has been accepted for many years.Not to say that Welles was lying, or making up facts (at least, not all the time).It would be closer to the truth to say that Welles was prone to exaggerations, sometimes wild ones when it concerned himself.For the sake of his image, and for the sake of his career, he would embellish and overstate what he was doing and what he had done.Some of the more hysterical (and insightful) portions of the book are those where we see Welles describing something that had occurred several chapters previous.The story that gets told later can be almost totally at odds to what the actuality of the situation was.The further on one goes into the book, the farther away from reality these descriptions become.Welles was obsessed with constantly reinventing himself, creating a gigantic legend that became increasingly difficult for any mortal man to live up to.

This is not to say that Simon Callow is merely running down Orson Welles, or making his achievements seem unworthy.Indeed, Callow appears genuinely impressed by what Welles achieved in such a short amount of time.While Welles apparently preferred his fantasy image of himself, the truth was quite remarkable by itself; Welles packed more living into his first twenty-five years than most people do in a lifetime.The respect that he commanded as an actor/director was unprecedented for someone of his young age.But Callow emphasizes with how Welles thought of himself.He sees Welles' drive to continually achieve more.As a fellow actor, Callow understands and relates to the need for constantly promoting oneself for the benefit of one's career.He compares events in Welles' later life to the man's childhood, looking for the reasons for the overriding desire to drive farther and faster.

The book does tend to take slight detours on its road to CITIZEN KANE's Xanadu.Many of the subjects tangentially related to the main feature are given adequate descriptions.Welles' parents, his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin, the state of the American theatre in the 1930s and other assorted topics all benefit from Callow's in-depth research and his wonderful attention to detail.These asides and tangents are vital to understanding Welles in his context, and this biography is much the richer for these additions.

As for the portions of Welles' early life that Callow chooses to focus on, it is Welles' theatre work that receives the lion's share of attention.These sections are remarkably detailed, and I simply cannot imagine the book containing any more information.All of his productions are covered, the bulk of the spotlight being aimed towards those plays that Welles approached as both director and actor.Numerous memorable stories are contained in these sections, one of my favorites being the description of Welles directing a collapsing production by punctuating his screams at the cast with intermittent swigs straight from his omnipresent bottle of bourbon.

Descriptions of Orson Welles' other endeavors can only pale by comparison, though they themselves are also covered meticulously.The portions dealing with his radio career aren't given nearly the same attention, and the chapter involved with his WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast seems remarkably brief given how big a place it holds in the Welles Legend.On the other hand, Callow is quick to point out how little input Welles had in the writing side of that radio play, so in retrospect it shouldn't really be all that surprising to see it neglected here.Still, even Welles' work as The Shadow is only briefly mentioned; again, probably based on Welles' lack of creative input on that series.However, it would have been interesting to see the same flurry of facts, and anecdotes directed towards the radio and film work as it was towards the stage.

For anyone who is slightly curious as to actor Simon Callow's ability to write, let me put your mind at ease.Not only is Callow a competent writer, but he's a very engaging one.The subject of Orson Welles is not a simple one for any biographer to attempt, yet Callow has put together a superbly researched and diabolically entertaining portrait of a man who surrounded himself with so much misinformation that sorting through it all must have been an exhausting task.Callow himself is never far from his descriptions, injecting his wry sense of humor into numerous observations.His style of writing makes it very clear when he's talking about verifiable facts, or when he is basing something on conjuncture.Further to this, there are twenty-five pages of references, as well as two and a half pages of bibliography.This is both a lively read and a superbly researched book --a rarity, but an extremely welcome one.In the preface, Simon Callow states that this is merely the first book of two and the second will deal with Welles' descent from the peak of his career.That second book has yet to be published, but based on the extraordinary achievement of this volume, it should be well worth the wait.

5-0 out of 5 stars Requiem for a Huckster
In his later years, Welles often complained that he spent more time trying to find money to make films than he did actually making films. And seeing Welles still scrambling for cash in his last days as a commercial pitchman for such products as Dark Tower and Paul Masson Wines ("Where we will sell no wine before it's time"), you know he was right.

This entertaining and exhaustive book by Simon Callow doesn't deal with most of his film career - only covering up to 1941. (We're still waiting on part two to cover the rest. Simon? Simon?). However, what it does do is clear up much of Welles' confusing past (he often told conflicting stories in interviews) and delve into the two main works that set Welles up for stardom...and the fall...in Hollywood - The War of the Worlds radio broadcast and Citizen Kane. And no wonder they were sharpening knives for the boy wonder when Welles publicly put down the Hollywood community, his Kane script bit the hand that feeds him by taking obvious shots at newspaper mogul Randolph Hearst and he was given the kind of directorial freedom veteran directors could only dream of.

Some people may tire of reading about Welles' theatre days with Houseman, anxiously waiting to get to the meat of his film career. But to understand why Welles became a "has-been" at 26 and the long slide to come, this is required reading. ... Read more

17. What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career
by Joseph McBride
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2006-10-13)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$14.85
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Asin: 0813124107
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
At twenty-five, Orson Welles (1915-1985) directed, co-wrote, and starred in Citizen Kane, widely considered the best film ever made. But Welles was such a revolutionary filmmaker that he found himself at odds with the Hollywood studio system. His work was so far ahead of its time that he never regained the wide popular following he had once enjoyed as a young actor-director on the radio.

Frustrated by Hollywood and falling victim to the postwar blacklist, Welles departed for a long European exile. But he kept making films, functioning with the creative freedom of an independent filmmaker before that term became common and eventually preserving his independence by funding virtually all his own projects. Because he worked defiantly outside the system, Welles has often been maligned as an errant genius who squandered his early promise.

Film critic Joseph McBride, who acted in Welles's legendary unfinished film The Other Side of the Wind, provocatively challenges conventional wisdom about Welles's supposed creative decline. McBride is the first author to provide a comprehensive examination of the films of Welles's artistically rich yet little-known later period. During the 1970s and '80s, Welles was breaking new aesthetic ground, experimenting as adventurously as he had throughout his career.

McBride's friendship and collaboration with Welles and his interviews with those who knew and worked with the director make What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? a portrait of rare intimacy and insight. Reassessing Welles's final period in the context of his entire life and work, McBride's revealing portrait of this great film artist will change the terms of how Orson Welles is regarded. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles? A legitimate force of nature!
Along the cinema's history - from time to time - the lucid conscious tends to appear in certain regions of the world. If Griffith gave the first step with (Intolerance and the Birth of a nation), Stroheim made the same with Greed , Robert Wiene with Dr. Caligari, Lang with Metropolis, while the comedy counted with Chaplin and Keaton, then Renoir with The rules of game and The grand illusion and Jean Cocteau emerged as if the same spirits of the Greek dramaturges would have reappeared with his wild mythic expression. Then came Orson Welles , while Kurosawa, Ozu and Mizoguchi showed us unknown facets ofJapan, Luis Buñuel , the lavish son of the Surrealism in the cinema, half Spanish, half Mexican but France would have among his most sharp and talented artists as the portentous and unique Robert Bresson, and other not less relevant figures such as Marcel Carne, Max Ophlus, Rene Clement; Denmark with Dreyer, Italy would count with De Sica, Visconti and Fellini , Russia with Tarkovsky, Sweden with Bergman and Germany would have to wait until the early sixties for Scholondoff, Fassbinder, Wenders, Herzog, Von Trotta sisters and Hauff. And so, during the early eighties in Italy the brothers Taviani, Bernard Tavernier in France, Kaurismaki in Finland, The Coen brothers in North America , Quedraogo in Africa, Angelopoulos in Greece, Jarmush, Lars von Triers, Kim Ki Duk, Shohei Imamura and more recently Alexander Sokurov in Russia. Because more than artists this constellation of artists-filmmakers had something to say and how they did it.

But the case of Wells is particularly worthy to pay attention, because he embodied like nobody else the status of Shakesperian tragic personage, his ceaseless mind, his countless projects that never became materialized, the enormous efforts he had to do to make a film without abdicating in his ethic principles.

His devotion and everlasting admiration by Griffith, his sharp opinions, profane irreverence, mordacious opinions, his gastronomic excesses, among other singularities gained him respectable and unsaid enemies who neither didn't share nor understand his vision of the world. It's not easy to fit his hat, but the true of the case is he appealed to many filmmakers around the world, (Fuller, Casavettes, Allen, Saura, Almodovar, Waters, Loach, Huston, Roeg among so many others) to make the humanity would be aware (and I borrow a famous Buñuel's statement) we are not living in the best of the possible worlds. A biography that will absorb you from start to finish.

This excel essay allows us to approach the creative universe and the effervescent mind of a propulsive human being, who refused to accept outer impositions, filming what he wanted along his lifetime.

"A filmmaker is really great when the camera is an eye in the mind of a poet."

5-0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles Book
I have always been a fan of Orson Welles on radio and television. Having collected a ton of radio broadcasts on CD and audio cassette and having watched most of his movies, I appreciate the genius of his work. I picked up a copy of this book recently and am amazed at the amount of research put into it. An aspect of Welles rarely discussed is his magic career. At the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention this September in Aberdeen, Maryland, I plan to attend the presentation about Orson Welles and his magic career so I can watch rare footage and films with Welles, and get an even deeper insight to his trickery. Book comes recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and informative
While I might be biased because a many parts of this book included stories about my father, Gary Graver, this is not something you want to miss out on if you have any interest in Orson Welles or the inner workings of the Hollywood movie industry.I knew Orson when I was a young boy and teenager during the time my father worked with him, but my memories are nothing compared to the vivid details and thoroughness of Joe's writings.

This book taught me a lot about a man whom I admired and feared. He was rather scary from the perspective of a ten year old, but he often took time to have me sit with him while he taught me card tricks.I am so grateful that these stories are now available for everyone to read.Thank you Joe for your commitment in documenting what no one else ever has and sharing these wonderful stories.

5-0 out of 5 stars Its value thus is twofold: as a biography for Welles fans, and as a history of film industry operations and politics.
Mention the name Orson Welles and his most famous involvement - with the radio scare 'War of the Worlds' - immediately comes to mind; but for a deeper understanding of Welles' life and career you need What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career. His later projects were largely self-financed and erratically distributed, but film critic and biographer Joseph McBride has a personal familiarity with Welles from previous projects worked on with him and here shows how the Hollywood studio system forced Welles out of the industry. Its value thus is twofold: as a biography for Welles fans, and as a history of film industry operations and politics.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Director's Independent Years
Everyone knows that Orson Welles made _Citizen Kane_, possibly the most audacious and most analyzed movie to come out of Hollywood.And then what happened?He had been called a "boy genius", having made the movie (co-written, directed, and starred) when he was but twenty-five years old, but within a decade the term was used with sarcasm, and Walter Kerr wrote that Welles had become "an international joke, and possibly the youngest living has-been."Welles had been knocked down, and in the view of many, he never got up.Certainly, he never made anything like a _Kane_ again, but that isn't really fair: no one has.It is true that he never produced the sorts of films that were Hollywood-popular, but he did not at all disappear.Joseph McBride, a film historian who knew Welles, has answered the title question in his book _What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?A Portrait of an Independent Career_ (The University Press of Kentucky).The answer, quite simply, is that Welles worked and worked for decades in film, writing scripts, making movies, and (perhaps because few would bankroll him) doing things his own way.It's a sad story, in many ways.No one could doubt Welles's genius, and there are so many "if only" episodes in this book that it is often a depressing account.But Welles was not a tragic figure; he reflected years later that he might have made a mistake in staying in films (rather than, say, returning to the theater in which he had previously made his mark).But he would not have had it any other way: "I'm just in love with making movies," he said, and indeed, it was only death that stopped him.

McBride necessarily describes the problems that beset Welles immediately after _Kane_, when Welles could no longer get anything close to the full control of a film which he had practiced on his first movie.Still wanting to make movies, he left Hollywood to continue in Europe.McBride makes the case that contributing to Welles's decision for self-exile was his fear that he would be called to testify in the Communist witch-hunts.Welles loved shooting films and he especially loved editing them (as anyone who has seen _Kane_ can tell).There are plenty of pictures Welles worked on whose footage has been lost, but many others have the footage saved by fans or by creditors, and they frequently propose bringing out a finished version, hiring someone to pull the scenes together into a finished movie even so long after Welles's death in 1985.One producer mentioned she'd like to see a particular film screened not as an unfinished work by Welles, but as a film the way he might have finished it; but she says, "Finished by whom?Who can you substitute for Orson Welles?"

McBride does not go deeply into Welles's inability to finish things.Certainly it was attributable in a large part to Welles's way of skin-of-his-teeth filmmaking, whether or not it was some deep-set psychological disability.Welles could have written a magnificent autobiography, but when he got advances for such a work, he always returned them to the publishers.McBride writes, "Welles was deeply ambivalent about reminiscing, perhaps because he would have had to address issues he usually found too painful or delicate, such as his sexuality, his family life and some of his more traumatic experiences in Hollywood."Some of the stories of incompletion here, however, are extraordinary.His finished negative of _The Merchant of Venice_ was simply stolen from Welles's production office in Rome.The Iranians held funding for his meditation on filmmaking in the sixties, _The Other Side of the Wind_, and then the Shah was overthrown."It's hard to imagine a movie career more littered with sensational catastrophes than mine," Welles admitted.He seldom admitted that he was the source of the less sensational catastrophes; a cameraman who worked with Welles late in his career said that Don Quixote was never completed because Welles "moved around too much, stuff got lost."For sensational and unsensational reasons, the losses recounted here are staggering.Nonetheless, McBride shows that they cannot be blamed, as some critics say, on Welles's being lazy or dilatory.The decades were filled with work for him, and he was pounding out a manuscript for a brand-new project on the night he died.As an independent filmmaker, Welles may have never fully lived up to his potential, but with a record of films that includes _Touch of Evil_ or the supremely weird _Lady from Shanghai_, his pattern of incompletion must be a minor sin.Much of McBride's personal account comes from his being an actor in _The Other Side of the Wind_ (of course, never finished) as were such droppable names as John Huston and Dennis Hopper.McBride's story won't re-make Welles's post-1950 career, but it isn't just a story of loss and lost opportunities; it is one of real movie history and at least some genuine artistic success.
... Read more

18. The Trial (Modern Film Scripts)
by Franz Kafka
 Paperback: 176 Pages (1970-12-01)
-- used & new: US$101.44
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Asin: 0671206206
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (57)

What can I say? For a brief period of time though exiled from the USA Orson Welles made some of his finest films including outstanding work by actors and crew who obviously cared.

Though I often have something to dissect within the films I review, here I'll just offer bullet-points regarding some things I love about "The Trial" and the Milestone copy in specifically:

1) The picture and sound are great and the folks at Milestone are very sweet.

2)This is Welles' best 'villain' role, surpassing even his over-the-top drunk cop in "Touch Of Evil". His role as the 'Advocate' is performed seductively and even vaguely humorously, and when he spells out (through a allegoric story) the hideous truth behind 'K's indictment it is one of film history's most chilling moments.

3) Akim Tamiroff never disappoints in Welles' films and next to his role as the aging crook in "Mr.Arkadin" this may be his best.

4)The sets and lighting are astonishing and grandly baroque. You'll just have to see it. 'Nuff said.

5)Tony Perkins is outstanding as 'K'. I don't know about the book, but the film requires his character be slightly affected, boyish, indignant, impatient and outraged. He is all these things and more, including the slight nebbish quality that so many 'guilty' men acquire. Whether speaking quietly to his cousin or close to a nervous breakdown in front of the 'condemned' he is at all times believable and sincere in his portrayal.

That being said, the film is a little expensive for the casual viewer, but oh! so worth it. The film feels like a downward spiral, great rainy-day or midnight fare when you have no other distractions. Daylight and the phone ringing will kill the mood.

If you are like me, you will go into "The Trial" already having been a fan of at least a couple of other Welles' films, Luis Buñuel, "Eraserhead", and late 1950's Euro cinema and you will not find yourself disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Milestone DVD is Best DVD Transfer Yet of Welles Classic
I've seen only two good video transfers of The Trial (1963) -- the laserdisc by Roan Group, and this DVD by the Milestone Collection/Image.All the other tapes and discs are cheap, terrible-quality ripoffs.Do yourself a favor and avoid them.

The Milestone DVD looks and sounds excellent -- I think they actually used the original negative discovered in a storage unit in Manhattan? -- you can really appreciate the eerie beauty of this film's high-contrast, black-and-white visuals, the weird sets and locations, and great performances (esp. by Anthony Perkins, Orson Welles, and Akim Tamiroff).

I also love Franz Kafka's novel and have always been a bit disappointed that Welles changed the ending (slightly) -- based on interviews with Peter Bogdanovich, Welles couldn't really come to grips with Kafka's totally despairing conclusion.But don't worry, it's still a lot more satisfying than the completely tacked-on "happy ending" that was forced on Welles for his 1942 adaptation of The Magnificent Ambersons.In a way, Welles's final scene for his version of The Trial is just as offbeat and ambiguous as anything in Kafka's stories.

5-0 out of 5 stars FOCUS FILMS: The Trial DVD, orsen welles 1963.
This is the version that I saw, digitally remastered image and sound. With a commentary by film critic Jeffrey Lyons, who explains the film in detail.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paranoia on Film
"The Trial"

Paranoia on Film

Amos Lassen

"The Trial" by Franz Kafka is on the reading lists of many high schools and colleges and most of us are basically familiar with it. The book depicts reality based upon state of mind. Orson Welles took Kafka's book and transformed into an incredible cinematic experience starring Anthony Perkins as Joseph K. When K awakes one morning he finds that the police are arresting him without telling him why and do not take him into custody. This of course causes K's life to become warped. He has no idea how to act and he doesn't know how to not get himself into any deeper trouble. He is evidently led to a secret meeting which turns out to be his trial and he gets a lawyer, Orson Welles, himself, . K is a marked man who finds that every woman he meets is attracted to him but K cannot understand the game he has been thrown into and he finds the rules to be shocking. As he studies the legal system he understand that he becomes more and more doomed and for no reason.
Set in an unnamed country, we se a city of decay and Welles used Kafka's own feelings about how Jews had been persecuted during the second World War and then updated it to a post war setting in which the law becomes the enemy of every man or as we see in the case of K, everyman. The film condemns the abuses of the law universally and what happens in the film could happen anywhere.
Every word of dialog in the film is important and the cinematography is powerful in its starkness. This is a dark film that moves on fear yet maintains a dramatic pathos throughout as well as a sense of humor. The film jumps off of the screen and shakes the viewer. The film is a masterpiece and is a perfect example of how to film a text. Welles remains totally faithful to Kafka's vision and we get a nightmare of bureaucracy gone wrong. It is a story of displacement of a man who is totally consumed. He is a Freudian picaro who journeys in despair through the bowels of the legal system and shows us how justice is stifled.

5-0 out of 5 stars A surreal film noir nightmare
"The logic of this story is that of a dream... a nightmare." So Orson warns us in the opening prologue, and viewers would do well to heed that: this is certainly a surreal, abstract film filled to the gills with bizarre imagery and symbolism that may take multiple viewings to unravel.

The story is that of Joseph K., who awakens one morning to find himself under arrest. What are the charges? Never said, of course: that'll come out at the trial.

Most of this movie is dialogue, and if you're bored by talk-fests, you'd best skip this movie as it requires you to (gasp!) pay attention and actually use your brain. But aside from witty banter, the film is a visual feast for the eyes. The cinematography comes close to stealing the show in this: Orson outdoes himself with odd lighting and sets that play the black-and-white medium to the hilt.

I've never read the Kafka novel this is based on, so I don't know how many liberties Orson took with the story. Divorced from that preconception and bias, the movie certainly stands on its own, and has quickly become one of my favorites.

This dvd is bare bones: no special features to speak of. However, if you just want a copy of the movie itself, you can't beat the price.

... Read more

19. Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios
by Clinton Heylin
Paperback: 416 Pages (2006-06-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$5.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556526202
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Revealing the facts rather than the myths behind Orson Welles' Hollywood career, this groundbreaking history analyzes the career of one of the most well-known American filmmakers. Exploring why Welles' films never matched his youthful masterpiece Citizen Kane, this investigation delves into the enemies that hounded him, his unwaning faith in his audience, and the brilliance of his films—before they were butchered by the studios. Based on shooting scripts, schedules, internal memos, interviews, articles, lectures, and personal correspondence, this work creates a concrete picture of his professional and artistic struggles and successes. This heartbreaking tale brings to life the intelligent, perceptive, and passionate man who, for all his failings as a person, was utterly uncompromising in his art.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
If you have ever seen Citizen Kane and enjoyed Orson Welles' performance, I think you will enjoy reading this book.The author tends to badmouth other critics which is pretty funny, but he also gives a nice insight into the life of Orson Welles. Pretty interesting although I wouldn't call it the EASIEST read. Fairly easy though.

4-0 out of 5 stars Love Me, Love my Orson
Heylin doesn't have much good to say about Simon Callow's ongoing biography of Orson Welles, sneering at him for making it so long and involved.I can see him criticizing Callow for relying on John Houseman and Michael McLiammoir if they are supposed to be so unreliable, but why criticize him for not wrapping up his biography in two volumes and extending it to a third?You'd think he himself (Heylin) was some minimalist purist, but he's written far more hackwork himself than Callow ever will.Think oif a topic, Heylin's written an angry book about it.

If Orson Welles didn't have any emotional problems that led him to studio disputes, then I'm Tallulah Bankhead.Were all the studios conspiring against Welles because he was a dangerous man?I doubt it.But maybe ninety per cent of them were.There was still a fatal weakness in Welles that led to the mistakes among the six studio films Heylin counts over and over again.It's a door that swings both ways, but until the day comes that people realize it, there will always be a place on the shelf for books that paint Orson as an innocent victim of studio malice, Othello to Iago's "motiveless malignity."

3-0 out of 5 stars Readable, of course, but not all that was promised
This book is heavy on argumentation. Whatever newly researched material it provides (and whether it provides much at all is debatable) is wound up in the fiber of a polemic the likes of which we haven't seen since the glory days of the Andrew Sarris-Pauline Kael Wars. I wish there had been a little less nonchalant jab-shooting at those with whom the writer doesn't see eye-to-eye, and a little more substance that was new.

That said, I will concede that this book is, naturally, highly readable. But bear in mind, it would be hard to imagine a book about any aspect of a life like Welles' being anything but readable. Having read Leaming's friendly biography and the Bogdanovich interview book (This is Orson Welles), however, I have to say everything here feels more than merely familiar, like something I (as a reader of books on this topic) have known for years now.

It begins to look as if a resifting through the same plate of sand is all we are going to get from further books about Welles, barring some sort of major uncovering of tapes, films or personal papers. And that doesn't appear likely at this point.

5-0 out of 5 stars A New Look at the Bad Films of a Genius
Orson Welles did the movie 'Citizen Kane' and should have gone on to further greatness. Instead it appeared that he had peaked early and did litle for the rest of his careet.

In this extensively researched book, Clinton Heylin uses shooting scripts, schedules, internal memos and much more to come to a different conclusion. He says that the subsequent five movies Wells made were effectively ruined in post-production editing and cutting. For instance his movie 'The Lady from Shanghai' was cut from 155 to 86 minutes.

I suspect we will never be able to see a 'Director's Cut' of this movie, the 69 minutes that wound up on the cutting room floor were probably thrown away. So looking at the script and what recollections remain after half a century will have to do.

Mr. Heylin does point out some of the problems that were self inflicted, disappearing for a few days at critical times for instance. The book remains, however, a condemnation of the movie production system. I suspect this remains today as I look at the number of re-makes of old movies, the sequels, and how few original groundbreaking movies get made.

5-0 out of 5 stars Welles's Battles, Sympathetically Portrayed
When _Citizen Kane_ was released in 1941, it was hailed by critics as a marvel, a film that had accomplished by innovations in plot, theme, photography, and sound what no movie had done before.It was as thick with meaning and style as any play or novel; the enormous numbers of books and articles devoted to it since that time, and its continuous inclusion on any list of great films, confirm how important a work it is.Orson Welles, new to Hollywood, young, brash, and brilliant, had delivered a masterpiece in his very first try.He had made the system work in ways it never had before.He would bring further new and innovative works from Hollywood, it seemed certain.But Welles never again had the freedom that he was able to use on _Kane_, and only made five further movies within the Hollywood system.How did this happen?In _Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios_ (Chicago Review Press), Clinton Heylin has given a useful and informed summary of the troubled give-and-take that resulted in the studios taking all his films except _Kane_ away from Welles at the vital editing stage."I believe that the only good work I can do is my own particular thing," Welles once said, looking back and using the idiom of the sixties. "I don't think I'm very good at doing their thing."

Heylin comments extensively on other commentators on the Welles productions, because he has set out to redress what he sees as a misinformed analysis that has laid blame on the inner demons of Welles himself for his shocking failure to follow up _Kane_.For instance, Charles Higham wrote twenty-five years ago that Welles blamed others for wrecking his work, but that the real culprit was Welles's own fear of completion.This was, according to Heylin, "a neat little box in which to wrap any enigmas the work itself threw up."It was simple, and attracted many other commentators, and even cost Welles an investor for one of his later projects.However, Heylin shows that Welles was eager to get his films done, finishing them against the odds and against the shortsightedness of studio heads. Welles was not undone by his own inner failings, but "by real people, with real motives."In the stories about each of the six films here, Heylin shows that after _Kane_, Welles directed some fascinating films whose flaws are not due to his own inability to complete them, but to his inability to complete them in his fashion._The Magnificent Ambersons_, _The Stranger_, _The Lady from Shanghai_, _Macbeth_, and finally _Touch of Evil_ are all covered here in fine detail, and their individual problems laid out.

One of the sound ideas that Heylin stresses is that not all the complaints the studios had against Welles ought to have been based on their financial worries.It is true that Welles didn't care much about making money, nor did he take pains to get the money men on his side in his endeavors. Welles could, when he wanted, work fast and inexpensively; _Kane_, for instance, was not a particularly expensive movie, and its glorious effects are all the more wonderful for being, on the whole, simple and cheap.Welles could film many pages of script in a single take, using combinations of shots that could compress ideas in an economic model any studio would embrace.He was certainly difficult to work with, self-indulgent and not only flouting Hollywood rules but disappearing from the studios at just the time when he should have been there to support his own versions of his films.Heylin takes the stance, however, that Welles was over and over again a victim, and _Despite the System_ marshals an impressive collection of facts (shooting scripts, rewrites, memos, and of course, other authors' books of interpretation) to support such a view.Against the system, Welles had considerable triumphs, but the subject here is his defeats, and they are told with sympathy; his admirers will read this book with a heartbreaking sense of loss. ... Read more

20. Orson's Shadow
by Austin Pendleton
Paperback: 75 Pages (2005-12-30)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0822220881
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Sir Laurence Olivier. Orson Welles. Vivien Leigh. Joan Plowright. Kenneth Tynan. When these champions of the theatre get together to rehearse Ionesco's Rhinoceros, mere mortals best step aside. With lightning wit and scathing insight into the true nature of genius, Austin Pendleton's new play opens the private worlds of these very public people, exposing their warmth, their egos, and their glittering madness. Directed by Rosalind Ayres.

Starring: Caroline Goodall, Glenne Headly, Martin Jarvis, Robert Machray, Simon Templeman, Orlando Seale ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars If you missed it in New York, here's your next best experience!
An amazing audio recording of a top-notch cast performing an intricate verbal dance that is Austin Pendleton's clever play. After hearing the recording, I wished I knew how to reach Joan Plowright, the only surviving notable who's a character in the play (the others being Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, Kenneth Tynan and Vivien Leigh), to ask her if any of the play is actually true. Oh, to have been witness to the real-life drama that was going on during rehearsals of Ionesco's RHINOCEROS, which is the play that Welles, Plowright and Olivier were working on while Olivier's marriage to Leigh was falling apart. This recording is for the theatre lovers and theatre historians as well as the theatre artists. ... Read more

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