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: Orson Welles  ( 59079 )
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« : June 25, 2007, 09:45:54 PM »

 http://youtube.com/watch?v=wBayVvFA6S8

I consider Orson Welles to be one of the five greatest and most important men to ever grace Hollywood, so I feel a thread to discuss him is a good idea.

He is not only one of my ten favorite actors, but one of my five favorite directors - I havn't seen all too many films from him, but those in which I have seen have left me extremely impressed.

While I consider Citizen Kane to be his greatest achievement, just like everyone else does, I also really like Touch of Evil, The Trial, and The Lady From Shanghai - not to mention his amazing performance in The Third Man, despite his short screen time.

I really need to see F For Fake soon.



On another note, has anybody listened to the original War of the World broadcast by Orson Welles? It's on Youtube. The first half is brilliantly made while the second is not quite as good. I suggest a listen.

« : June 25, 2007, 09:47:25 PM rrpower »
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« #1 : June 25, 2007, 09:58:09 PM »

Good post rr! Orson Welles was a great talent indeed. His body of work speaks for itself. I'm a huge fan of "The Lady From Shanghai" and it absolutely kills me that they're remaking this! No need to! I think it contains one of his best performances. Very underrated film in my opinion. Rita Hayworth was ravishing as usual. Welles and Hayworth were great together.




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« #2 : June 26, 2007, 05:08:25 AM »

I've only seen him in two things, so I can't comment in-depth:

"Citizen Kane", where he scored a huge home-run as the star, director, and co-writer:



And "A Man for All Seasons", with a memorable cameo as a very rotund Cardinal Wolsey:



"Touch of Evil" has been on my must-see list for awhile. . .  :-\

Also, see if you can track down the famous "Frozen Peas" radio commercial - it's hysterical stuff. Why they kept it, I don't know, but it's worth a laugh or two or ten.



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« #3 : June 26, 2007, 09:25:57 AM »

I like Kane, the first 30 minutes of Ambersons, parts of Othello, and all of Chimes at Midnight. The rest of Welles' work as a director is very easily ignored.

Although his first picture is justifiably admired, it is possible to over-praise it. I posted what follows on another thread, but re-post it here as it might generate some interesting discussion.


Taking the Cane to Kane

Much has been written about this film, but nothing has improved on the review written by Jorge Luis Borges the year Citizen Kane was released.

Quote
A kind of metaphysical detective story, its subject (both psychological and allegorical) is the investigation of a man’s inner self, through the works he has wrought, the words he has spoken, the many lives he has ruined. The same technique was used by Joseph Conrad in Chance (1914) and in that beautiful film The Power and the Glory: a rhapsody of miscellaneous scenes without chronological order. Overwhelmingly, endlessly, Orson Welles shows fragments of the life of the man, Charles Foster Kane, and invites us to combine them and to reconstruct him. Forms of multiplicity and incongruity abound in the film: the first scenes record the treasures amassed by Kane; in one of the last, a poor woman, luxuriant and suffering, plays with an enormous jigsaw puzzle on the floor of a palace that is also a museum. At the end we realize that the fragments are not governed by any secret unity: the detested Charles Foster Kane is a simulacrum, a chaos of appearances. (A possible corollary, foreseen by David Hume, Ernst Mach, and our own Macedonio Ferenandez: no man knows who he is, no man is anyone.) In a story by Chesterton—“The Head of Caesar,” I think—the hero observes that nothing is so frightening as a labyrinth with no center. This film is precisely that labyrinth.

As good as this is, it can stand a bit of tweaking.

Borges needlessly muddies the water with his citations of Hume et al. If “no man is anyone” then there seems to have been no particular reason to make Kane the subject of the film. Any sort of person would have done as well: tinker, tailor, lampshade maker. But surely the point of using Kane was to demonstrate a rich irony: this person most present in his society is, in private life, a complete nullity. Further, we, the audience, best appreciate this irony when able to contrast Kane with others, those who, like ourselves, may not exist as flamboyantly, but who in fact lead incomparably richer lives.

Taking the above caveat into account, Borges’s interpretation of the puzzle montage is substantially correct. Not all men, but Kane in particular is “a chaos of appearances.” Not the film Citizen Kane, but the man Charles Foster Kane is “a labyrinth with no center.” (Borges’s own logic eludes him. If nothing is as frightening as a labyrinth without a center, and this film is such a labyrinth, cinema-goers would run screaming out of every showing.) Citizen Kane, then, does have a center: the revelation concerning Kane’s true (lack of) character.

Thus the film’s technique of fragmentation is the ideal exposition of its theme: Charles Foster Kane, though of many parts, is less than their sum. Such an approach works well for a despised character, but would not do as well for other biographies, a life of Lincoln, for example, or the story of Christ.

This limitation shows up the film’s one great weakness: its central character, we come to learn, is not worth our time. This is worth knowing, of course, but having once learned it, what need have we to return to the character? In fact, students of the film never do. Citizen Kane is today appreciated almost entirely for its formal qualities.

No, we expect more from our masterpieces: grand characters. When we survey the characters of the Western narrative tradition who continue to command our attention, we encounter nothing but great souls: Achilles, Medea, Orlando, Lear. It is not a question of heroes or villains—Macbeth exhibits greatness every bit as much as Henry V does.  Charles Foster Kane, on the other hand, is neither hero nor villain. He’s not even a complete human being, and a non-entity is not, ultimately, a fit subject for contemplation—there is nothing to contemplate.

It is a hard judgment on a work of art that, rather than failing to accomplish its purpose, has succeeded too well. But there it is.

Consider the ironic title, which invites ridicule upon its subject. This is a very different title compared to, say, Oedipus Rex, which, free of irony, informs us that Oedipus remains kingly even as he falls.

And so, Citizen Kane cannot be the greatest film of all time, not even the greatest American film of all time. It was, however, the best American film in the year of its production and should have won the Best Picture Oscar for 1941.



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« #4 : June 26, 2007, 10:42:55 AM »









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« #5 : June 26, 2007, 11:01:07 AM »

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« #6 : June 26, 2007, 11:46:29 PM »

I find Welles so interesting as a director with all of his unfished films. And how he really lost everything in credentials in his later days in Hollywood, not even being able to get a film made coming to the point of asking other directors for funding, even Spielberg who bought Rosebud from CK refused so Welles said the sled Steven had was a fake but later recanted. One of his films he didn't finish editing together is due to be released this year with Peter (something) who was in the film, and I can't wait. Welles also was doing a adaptation of the unfilmable novel,Don Quixtonte(sp?) which I would die to see, along with Terry Gilliams few minutes of footage he shot of it too.

Welles was a fantastic director in the short and I want to see his lost films very badly.


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« #7 : July 03, 2007, 04:10:20 PM »

I just watched The Trial a second time -  probably my second favorite from Welles. Anybody else seen it?

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« #8 : July 03, 2007, 04:44:24 PM »

Yes. The computer scene is very silly.



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« #9 : July 03, 2007, 05:19:13 PM »

I have rewatched CK recently and I was not as impressed as the other times, but still is a great movie and one of the best to come from Hollywood. Touch of Evil awaits my buying the dvd to be seen for the first time in english. And so Othello. F for Fake, another on my to be rewatched list which includes also Campanadas de Medianoche, probably his best performance ever as an actor.   


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« #10 : July 03, 2007, 07:10:09 PM »

Yes. The computer scene is very silly.
The computer scene? As in when his uncle first visits at work?

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« #11 : July 03, 2007, 07:58:07 PM »

I can't remember. I just recall that Anthony Perkins gets all excited about using the huge company computer to help him with his case, and then at the end of the scene he decides it won't work. A complete digression that goes nowhere.



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« #12 : July 03, 2007, 08:18:42 PM »

I can't remember. I just recall that Anthony Perkins gets all excited about using the huge company computer to help him with his case, and then at the end of the scene he decides it won't work. A complete digression that goes nowhere.
Oh, that's not quite what happens - it's his uncle that gets excited about using the computer to help Perkins with the case, but Perkins seems to ignore him and soon runs away when he hears more whipping going on in the stock room.

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« #13 : July 03, 2007, 09:37:43 PM »

Okay. Obviously there was no computer scene in Kafka, what's the point in inventing such a thing only to drop it? That's what's so silly.



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« #14 : July 04, 2007, 08:50:02 AM »

Well, I see what you mean. I read half the book (which I happened to enjoy), though I never seemed to finish it. I don't recall that scene being there when K's uncle visits - and I suppose it is a rather a useless scene in the movie.

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