Orson Welles died thirty years ago today

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Richard M Roberts
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Orson Welles died thirty years ago today

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sat Oct 10, 2015 12:22 pm

While everyone was busy celebrating the 100th Birthday of Orson Welles back in May, today is actually the 30th Anniversary of his death. Here's a collection of the various TV obits broadcast at the time, with several very late interviews with Welles and comments from those who knew and worked with him:


I remember that I was driving somewhere in the early hours when I heard on the car radio that Welles had died. I actually had to stop the car for a minute. It wasn't just that he was gone, it was more a feeling of frustration as there had been much news the last few years that he was about to start new projects like THE BIG BRASS RING, KING LEAR and THE CRADLE WILL ROCK and in the press at least, it sounded like Welles would finally get the chance to make another film, and now that was not to be. I have always been a Welles admirer, and now I mourned not only his passing, but that there would be no more Welles films, and that he would never get the opportunity to complete his unfinished projects and we would never get to see them.

Little did I know...............


Gary Johnson
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Re: Orson Welles died thirty years ago today

Postby Gary Johnson » Sat Oct 10, 2015 4:20 pm

When Frank Sinatra died his kids took charge of his archives and starting releasing a lot of previously unreleased recordings that would never had seen the light of day if Sinatra was still living. In the case of Welles this also has occurred but with a longer lag time. It feels like all of this new Welles material has all appeared in just the last decade. Welles must of had his archive spread out around the world. Took longer to find stuff.....

One of Welles' pet projects he worked on before his death was to be an autobiographical film account of his stage production of THE CRADLE WILL ROCK. Now, I've always had a soft spot for Tim Robbins 1999 film version of those same events. He broadens his film out beyond the production of the play to encompass social and political aspects of America during Roosevelt's second term. It's an incredibly liberal slant of those events, but the filmmaker wears his views honestly and openly. Critics found too much going on from the large ensemble cast, but that's the main appeal I have for the film. I love when historic moments butt into each other, spilling over into each other's stories. A broader viewpoint of the world can only help one better appreciate the smaller stories all the more.

Robbins film is not based in any part on Welles' script, but I wonder if he knew of the existence of that script? He has said that part of his research was reading the memoirs of both Welles and Houseman. I know the portrayal of Welles in that film is looked down upon by many as inaccurate (or one-note), but I see a well-rounded, megalomaniac in that part. Sure he rants and raves and bullies in the early sections of the film, but that's during the rehearsal of the play. That's how all stage directors behave, according to every film we've ever been exposed to. Warner Baxter is still torturing his cast while trying to get 42nd Street into shape. But Welles is also allowed some mellow moments in the film, including some eloquent talk over cocktails and food. When the chips are down and the production is to be shut down, Welles grows remorse, then conspiratorial when a plot is hatched to keep the show on.
There are some moments in this film that make me feel like I know what it was like to work with Orson Welles. I wonder if Welles would have approved?

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