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Cinema and Media Studies Orson Welles
by
Donald F. Larsson

Introduction

The artistry of Orson Welles (b. 1915–d. 1985) can be difficult to disentangle from his own celebrity and notoriety. Citizen Kane (1941) was quickly hailed as a cinematic landmark by perceptive critics when first released, but the pivotal accomplishments of that film were blurred by controversies over the plot’s parallels with the life of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. Welles’s earlier controversial theater work in New York and the succès de scandale of his radio version of The War of the Worlds (1938) also affected critics’ views of Citizen Kane. Later films directed by Welles for American movie studios would be released in versions that did not reflect the director’s final intentions, such as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), and Touch of Evil (1958). Working in self-exile in Europe, Welles created works such as Mr. Arkadin (1955) and The Trial (1962) that also would be altered by producers and distributors. Even when relatively unaltered, some of these films perplexed American viewers and critics, while other projects were never completed. By the 1960s, Welles would become best known to television viewers as an obese, though loquacious and witty, man appearing on talk shows and commercials, dismissed by many as a “has-been.” In the last two decades of his life, however, Welles’s own career was also being rediscovered and reevaluated by a new generation of cineastes and critics. Citizen Kane has remained near the top of critics’ “greatest films” lists for half a century. Welles was also championed as one of the greatest film directors of all time by international critics, led by French critic André Bazin and the auteur critics of the Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s. American film critic Andrew Sarris, who popularized the French “auteur theory” for American filmgoers, placed Welles in his pantheon of the greatest American directors in his 1968 book The American Cinema (New York: E. P. Dutton). Such adulation, though, would be tempered by other critics, notably Pauline Kael, who claimed in 1971 that Welles had stolen credit for accomplishments in Citizen Kane from his collaborators, especially his cowriter Herman Mankiewicz. More-measured understandings of Welles, his life, and his work have been made possible by new research and restored versions of some of his films. This bibliography concentrates on major works by or relating to Welles, especially those published after the exhaustive annotated lists in Wood 1990 (see Bibliographies and Other Resources).

General Overviews

This section includes full-length critical works that deal with significant portions of Welles’s career in motion pictures. For more-detailed listings of book-length studies, see Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources), as well as bibliographies and citations under Biographies. For other critical views on individual works, again see Wood 1990 and citations under Feature Films. For citations of projects uncompleted at the time of Welles’s death, see Wood 1990 and Unfinished or Unreleased Works. Important early books and monographs on Welles’s work include Bazin 1978, Gottesman 1976 (cited under Critical Collections), McBride 1996, and Naremore 1989. Most of these works concentrate on Welles’s career in film, although some also refer to his work in radio and theater. Anderegg 1999 focuses on Welles’s adaptations of Shakespeare in film and theater. The works cited in this section, with the exception of Naremore 1989, were issued after the publication of Wood 1990. As with biographies of Welles, critics tend to split into two camps, viewing the director as self-indulgent and self-destructive or as an artistic martyr. McBride 1996 in particular tends toward the latter view. Others, notably Naremore, downplay such controversies to concentrate on an overall understanding of the works within the continuum of Welles’s ongoing experimentation and quest for artistic expression. Rosenbaum 2007 describes the difficulties of separating fact from myth in discussions of Welles and his films, as well as the difficulty of locating an “authoritative” text for any but a few of his motion pictures. Thomas and Berthomé 2008 gives more-detailed attention to Welles’s working methods than most sources, and Mereghetti 2011 has special appreciation for Welles’s later works, but Ishaghpour 2001 has written the most extensive study of Welles’s films yet published. For other foreign-language works, see Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources) as well as standard bibliographic sources. Rasmussen 2006 contains close visual analysis of individual films that will be useful for students new to Welles.

  • Anderegg, Michael. Orson Welles, Shakespeare, and Popular Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

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    Examines Welles’s adaptations of Shakespeare in different media as a “core sample” of Welles’s overall career. Contends that “Welles holds an unparalleled place in American life as a mediator between high and low culture . . .” (p. ix). Avoids critical conventional wisdom and places Welles within the changing historical context of the popular reception of Shakespeare.

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  • Bazin, André. Orson Welles: A Critical View. Translated by Jonathan Rosenbaum. New York: Harper & Row, 1978.

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    According to Rosenbaum 2007, the book he translated here was not the original (and superior, he contends) 1950 text by Bazin, but one written years later. One of the most influential critics in film history, Bazin discusses Welles as an artist whose use of deep focus and long takes helped to realize film’s potential to re-present reality to the audience.

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  • Ishaghpour, Youssef. Orson Welles cinéaste: Une caméra visible. 3 vols. Les Essais 18. Paris: Éditions de la Différence, 2001.

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    The most extensive study (2,100 pages) of Welles’s work, written in French by an Iranian-born film scholar. Volume 1 offers an overview, Volume 2 concentrates on Welles’s “American period,” and Volume 3 considers the director’s “nomadic period.” Over thirty years in the making, the book is not yet translated into English.

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  • McBride, Joseph. Orson Welles. Rev. ed. New York: Da Capo, 1996.

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    A reworking of one of the first full-length studies of Welles’s career. This edition provides new and corrected information and an extended account of McBride’s meeting Welles for the first time and being given a role in The Other Side of the Wind (1970). Still an important study by a perceptive critic. Originally published in 1972.

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  • Mereghetti, Paolo. Orson Welles. Rev. ed. New York: Phaidon, 2011.

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    Low-priced and well-illustrated overview of Welles’s career. Gives consideration to early work in theater but gives special attention to later films, in particular declaring The Immortal Story (1968) to be a “perfect film.”

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  • Naremore, James. The Magic World of Orson Welles. Rev. ed. Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1989.

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    A comprehensive study of Welles and his films, from an auteurist standpoint. Traces themes and imagery that recur across Welles’s career, with detailed attention to and analysis of individual scenes and shots in the films. Still one of the best formalist studies of Welles’s works. Originally published in 1978.

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  • Rasmussen, Randy L. Orson Welles: Six Films Analyzed, Scene by Scene. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.

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    A close and detailed examination of shots and scenes in Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Lady from Shanghai, Touch of Evil, The Trial, and Chimes at Midnight. Has to contend with the problems posed by the different versions of several of these films. Useful as an introduction to these films and to elements of Welles’s artistry.

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  • Rosenbaum, Jonathan. Discovering Orson Welles. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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    Rosenbaum’s film and book reviews and other pieces dealing with Welles over the years, many for the weekly Chicago Reader, are linked by connective passages and the introduction. Rosenbaum uses this structure as a process of discovering Welles as a postmodern artist, whose later work deserves as much serious consideration as Citizen Kane itself.

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  • Thomas, François, and Jean-Pierre Berthomé. Orson Welles at Work. Translated by Imogen Forster, Roger Leverdier, and Trista Selous. New York: Phaidon, 2008.

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    A detailed account, by two respected French film scholars associated with the journal Positif, of Welles’s working methods on his films in different phases of his career. Examines major films from beginning to end of production and after. Includes discussions of theatrical and other works. Lavishly illustrated.

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Critical Collections

Despite the number of full-length studies and biographies of Welles, there are surprisingly few book-length collections of critical articles that attempt to cover the span of his cinematic career, let alone his other works. The two most significant such collections so far are Gottesman 1976 and Beja 1995. A special edition of the journal Persistence of Vision (Simon 1989) presents papers from a conference at New York University on individual films and projects and other aspects of Welles’s career. For other collections of critical articles, see individual titles listed under Feature Films.

  • Beja, Morris, ed. Perspectives on Orson Welles. New York: G. K. Hall, 1995.

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    Includes contemporary reviews of most of Welles’s major films, interviews with Welles and with Charlton Heston, and eighteen original essays by critics, scholars, and associates of Welles. Potentially useful as a classroom text but currently out of print.

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  • Gottesman, Ronald, ed. Focus on Orson Welles. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1976.

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    One of the earlier books to attempt a reevaluation of Welles’s career. Major subject headings include “The Man,” “The Techniques,” and “The Films.” The first section includes Peter Bogdanovich’s essay “The Kane Mutiny,” an early riposte to Kael 1971 (cited under Citizen Kane [1941]), regarding Welles’s “authorship” of Citizen Kane. This volume details how Welles’s cinematic techniques intersect and illuminate his narratives and themes.

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  • Simon, William G., ed. Special Issue on Orson Welles. Persistence of Vision 7 (1989).

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    Collection of papers presented at a conference on Orson Welles at New York University, where the journal was published. Critical commentary on a wide range of Welles’s films and career, with particular attention to It’s All True.

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Biographies

Welles’s life has presented serious challenges to biographers, and earlier attempts at biography are typically marred by factual errors. The actual details of Welles’s years before Citizen Kane are remarkable enough. By the age of ten, he was already proclaimed a “boy genius” in newspapers. When sixteen, he persuaded the managers of the Gate Theatre in Dublin to hire him as an actor. By his early twenties, he and coproducer John Houseman had staged controversial theatrical productions in New York. And at the age of twenty-three, Welles had created a media frenzy with his radio production of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds in 1938. Orson Welles’s biographies, though, have often been obscured by myths passed on by critics and Welles’s own accounts. Biographers’ judgments have tended toward two extremes: Welles as a self-destructive narcissist and failure or Welles as a misunderstood genius constantly at odds with an establishment unable to accommodate his talent. Thomson 1996 tends toward the former interpretation, portraying Welles as a tragic figure undone by insecurity and hubris. Heylin 2005 tends toward the latter extreme, as do Leaming 1985 and McBride 2006, which were also influenced by their authors’ personal knowledge of Welles. Brady 1989 was one of the earlier works to offer a more balanced approach, although it is limited by the author’s lack of access to material unavailable until after the book’s publication. Conrad 2003, like Thomson’s biography, is idiosyncratic, dealing as much with the author’s subjective impressions of Welles as with the real-life subject. Callow 1997 and Callow 2006, like Heylin 2005, are able to draw upon documents previously unexamined by or unavailable to biographers. Callow’s books are the most thorough and among the most objective accounts of Welles’s life, to date, but these two volumes still take the reader only into the late 1940s. Callow is reportedly working on a third volume. (Also see Interviews and Memoirs by Others). Whaley 2006 is available only online but offers a fascinatingly different approach to Welles through his interest in magic.

  • Brady, Frank. Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles. New York: Scribner, 1989.

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    The most straightforward, factual, and academic of earlier Welles biographies, its delayed publication initially caused it to be eclipsed by Leaming 1985 and Charles Higham’s sensationalistic and factually flawed 1985 biography. Still a good beginning place for an overall account of Welles’s life and career.

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  • Callow, Simon. Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu. New York: Penguin, 1997.

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    First book of Callow’s multivolume project, tracing Welles’s life and career from birth through the release of Citizen Kane. A well-respected actor himself, Callow devotes more-detailed attention to Welles’s theatrical and radio work than most other biographies. Acknowledges the difficulties of taking Welles’s own statements about his life at face value.

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  • Callow, Simon. Orson Welles: Hello, Americans. New York: Viking, 2006.

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    Second volume of Callow’s biography. Continues to chart Welles’s life and career after Citizen Kane through Macbeth and his move to Europe. Poses this seven-year period as crucial to understanding Welles’s quest to evolve as an artist who aspired at the same time to be a popular entertainer and political commentator.

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  • Conrad, Peter. Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life. London: Faber and Faber, 2003.

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    A nonstandard “biography” that attempts to describe Welles’s life through the characters of his films, who are discussed as “allegorical” manifestations of the director’s own personality. The chapter title “Kubla Cain” [sic] gives a sense of Conrad’s approach. Conrad’s free-wheeling armchair psychologizing and lack of documentation make the book more useful for entertainment or provocation than for scholarship.

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  • Heylin, Clinton. Despite the System: Orson Welles versus the Hollywood Studios. Chicago: Chicago Review, 2005.

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    Concentrates almost exclusively on Welles’s on-and-off-again career in Hollywood, from Citizen Kane through Touch of Evil. Draws on studio documents and other materials to detail how creative control of these films was denied to or taken from the director.

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  • Leaming, Barbara. Orson Welles: A Biography. New York: Viking, 1985.

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    The one biography actually authorized by Welles himself, who served as Leaming’s primary source through many hours of interviews. Criticized for being too trusting of Welles’s factual statements and judgments but still very useful as an overview of his life and for clues to how Welles may have tried to shape posterity’s view of him.

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  • McBride, Joseph. What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006.

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    By one of the first American “auteur” critics to write about Welles. Influenced by McBride’s personal knowledge of Welles. Counters critics who overlook Welles’s late career. Gives more weight than most biographies to unfinished projects and to Welles’s political views, referring to available FBI files. Also discusses Welles’s relationship with his final companion and collaborator, the actress Oja Kodar.

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  • Thomson, David. Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles. New York: Knopf, 1996.

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    An idiosyncratic work, comparable to Cowan’s in being readable but unreliable. Poetic in style, intercutting Welles’s own words from interviews and dialogue from Welles’s films and written works. Deliberately avoids detailed consideration of the last twenty-five years of Welles’s life. Can make for entertaining or infuriating reading but not for factual comprehension.

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  • Whaley, Barton. Orson Welles: The Man Who Was Magic. E-book. Lybrary.com, 2006.

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    A long examination of Welles’s life and works, by a “military-political deception theorist” and magician. Contends that Welles cannot be fully understood without consideration of his own lifelong interest in magic and deception: “Only conjurors could appreciate how Welles’ ability to think like a magician affected everything he did.” Available only as an online e-book.

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Interviews

Welles himself gave many interviews to columnists, film critics, journalists, and others in various venues. A number of these interviews are referred to by his biographers and in articles on his works (see Biographies and Bibliographies and Other Resources), and some interviews or excerpts are now available online. In addition to giving more-formal interviews about his individual works and career, Welles was a familiar guest on television talk shows in his later years. He made frequent appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, where he sometimes served as a guest host, and on The Merv Griffin Show, which was the scene of his last interview less than one day before his death. (See Orson Welles’s Last Interview). Clips of that last interview and of other television appearances (including some of his work in television commercials and outtakes) can be found on YouTube.com. Transcripts of some audio and film or video interviews are available at the Guide to the Orson Welles Materials in the Lilly Library and other archives (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources). Some excerpts are available at Wellesnet The Orson Welles Web Resource (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources). King 1960 is one of Welles’s most revealing on-camera interviews (available online and in DVD format). The most-extensive substantive interviews with Welles, though, are the ones that he gave as background for Leaming 1985 (cited under Biographies), as documented in the notes section of the author’s book, and those with Welles and Bogdanovich 1992. Estrin 2002 offers whole or partial interviews with Welles over the course of half a century. For other interview references, see Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources).

  • Estrin, Mark W., ed. Orson Welles: Interviews. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2002.

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    Contains interviews and excerpts with Welles published over half a century. Estrin’s introduction weaves together different strands of the themes in Welles’s life and films that emerge from these interviews. The final essay—an account by Gore Vidal of a lunchtime meeting with Welles—is witty and moving.

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  • King, Allen, dir. Orson Welles: The Paris Interview. Canadian Broadcasting Company. 1960.

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    Welles discusses the importance of “home” and artists’ times in shaping their work, the role of “destiny,” and Welles’s political leanings and early political ambitions. Also discusses the importance of voice in acting and the challenges of working in different media. Gives particular attention to the contributions of Gregg Toland in Citizen Kane. The interview is also available on DVD (West Long Branch, NJ: Kultur International Films, 2010).

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  • Orson Welles’s Last Interview.

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    Welles’s final interview, taped just hours before his death. He jokes about his recent seventieth birthday and shares his memories of his former wife Rita Hayworth and friend Marlene Dietrich.

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  • Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich. This Is Orson Welles. Edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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    This series of interviews took three decades to come to print. Covers Welles’s life, films, and other projects, and Welles’s comments on people he had known and worked with. Rosenbaum’s introduction describes these interviews’ publication history. His editor’s notes offer useful comments. Includes a chronology of Welles’s life and a summary of the changes made to The Magnificent Ambersons.

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Memoirs by Others

Welles’s powerful personality and personal foibles made it difficult for anyone who knew him to be objective in their own accounts of the director. One of the most jaundiced views, though still very positive in many regards, among the books listed here is in Houseman 1989. Feder 2009 is among the most personal and affectionate, from a daughter who was never as close to her father as she wanted to be. Hill 1977 is an unpublished memoir by an early mentor and friend of Welles’s that provides some factual corrections to misinformation about Welles’s years at the Todd School and after. The anecdotes in Cotten 1987 give some sense of what it was like to work with Welles, especially in his earlier years, but Graver and Rausch 2008 offers more insight to Welles as a creative artist in the latter part of his career. Tonguette 2007 offers glimpses of the working artist and amateur magician over the course of half a century. MacLiammóir 1967 and MacLiammóir 1976 also offer personal accounts of working with Welles in theater and in film. Silovic and Kodar 1995 offers a guided tour of Welles’s “lost” works, by his final collaborator, Oja Kodar. For other references, see Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources) and Biographies and General Overviews.

  • Cotten, Joseph. Vanity Will Get You Somewhere. San Francisco: Mercury House, 1987.

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    Autobiography by the actor who began working with Welles at the Todd School and costarred in several Welles films. Offers anecdotes from their long friendship.

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  • Feder, Chris Welles. In My Father’s Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin, 2009.

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    A memoir by Welles’s first daughter, named Christopher at birth, from his marriage to Virginia Nicholson. Feder writes about growing up with only intermittent contact with her father up until his death. Sheds more light on Welles’s personal life and his three marriages than most other print sources up to now.

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  • Graver, Gary, and Andrew J. Rausch. Making Movies with Orson Welles: A Memoir. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2008.

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    Graver served as Welles’s last cinematographer in the last two decades of his life. Offers an inside account of Welles’s work on late projects, including F for Fake and unfinished works such as The Other Side of the Wind.

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  • Hill, Roger. One Man’s Time and Chance, a Memoir of Eighty Years 1895 to 1975. Woodstock, IL: Woodstock Public Library, 1977.

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    Memoir by the former headmaster at the Todd School for Boys, an early mentor and lifelong friend to Welles, unpublished during his life but available online. Hill’s self-described “ramblings” focus on Welles from pages 110 to 130, with other mentions elsewhere. The format of individual PDF pages makes reading awkward, but this is a useful resource for those interested in Welles’s formative years and relationships.

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  • Houseman, John. Unfinished Business: Memoirs, 1902–1988. New York: Applause Theatre Books, 1989.

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    The collected edition of three memoirs (Run Through, Front and Center, and Final Dress) by Welles’s producer and collaborator in the Federal Theatre Project and the Mercury Theatre, offering Houseman’s account of their complicated relationship. Discusses their staging of Macbeth (1936) with an African American cast, a modern-dress anti-Fascist version of Julius Caesar (1937), and the tumultuous debut of Marc Blitzstein’s radical opera The Cradle Will Rock (1937).

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  • MacLiammóir, Michéal. All For Hecuba: An Irish Theatrical Autobiography. Boston: Branden, 1967.

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    Originally published in 1946 (London: Methuen). MacLiammóir (born Alfred Willmore) and his partner Hilton Edwards cofounded the Gate Theatre in Dublin, where Welles got his first professional acting job. MacLiammóir later appeared as Iago in Welles’s film of Othello, about which he would write in Put Money in Thy Purse in 1952. MacLiammóir’s memoir discusses how the teenaged Welles talked himself into a job at the Gate and began his own meteoric rise.

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  • MacLiammóir, Michéal. Put Money in Thy Purse: The Filming of Orson Welles’ Othello. 2d ed. London: Methuen, 1976.

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    Originally published in 1952; republished as recently as 1994 (London: Virgin Books). MacLiammóir’s journal of the making of the film, offers much detail about his own daily life and occupations during the on-and-off-again shooting of the film, but offers little insight about the production itself. Still worth a look for those interested in the film and in the character of an early mentor and friend of Welles.

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  • Silovic, Vassili, and Oja Kodar, dirs. Orson Welles: The One-Man Band. VHS. Saskatoon, Canada: Robertsvideos, 1995.

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    A labor of love by Kodar, Welles’s final companion and collaborator. The actress leads viewers through a discovery of Welles’s many projects in his later life, including most of those listed under Unfinished or Unreleased Works. Included as part of the 2005 Criterion DVD set of F for Fake (see under Feature Films).

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  • Tonguette, Peter Prescott. Orson Welles Remembered: Interviews with His Actors, Editors, Cinematographers and Magicians. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007.

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    Interviews with various friends and associates of Welles’s offer glimpses of Welles at work on completed and unfinished projects. Mostly positive views of Welles, these interviews are valuable for their behind-the-scenes looks at Welles’s life and how he worked over the years. The insights from fellow magicians cast an interesting light of their own on the director.

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Bibliographies and Other Resources

As noted in other sections of this bibliography, many critics and biographers have passed on misinformation or lacked crucial information about various details of Welles’s life and projects. As materials collected during and after Welles’s life have come to light, scholars have been able to come to deeper understandings of his personal life and professional career. The materials listed here are important starting places for amateur or professional and scholarly research on Welles. Wood 1990, a bio-bibliography, is an excellent starting place for Welles scholars, despite some flaws in Wood’s narrative text. Selected bibliographies of varying degrees of precision and usefulness appear in many of the biographies and critical works cited elsewhere in this bibliography. (See entries listed in Biographies and in General Overviews). Berg and Erskine 2003 is a better-than-average popular reference work. The connections between the entry subjects and Welles himself are sometimes tenuous, but there are lengthy entries on Welles’s major works as well as some of his lesser-known or unfinished projects. An important resource for Welles scholars is the Guide to the Orson Welles Materials in the Lilly Library. The materials listed in Finding Aid for Richard Wilson-Orson Welles Papers, 1930–2000 have also provided fresh insights into Welles’s career in the 1930s and 1940s. The Orson Welles FBI Files have been useful for recent works dealing with the political implications of Welles’s work and the government’s attitude toward him. Other entries on Welles, his films, and his career are routinely listed in standard film and literature bibliographical resources. The Internet provides access to a large amount of material by and about Welles that can be accessed through common search engines such as Google.com. Despite its design flaws, Lawrence French’s Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource can be a useful website to explore.

  • Berg, Chuck, and Tom Erskine. The Encyclopedia of Orson Welles. New York: Checkmark, 2003.

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    Useful and interesting entries by academic scholars, but appealing to general readers as well as students. Topics include films, theater, and radio productions, and characters played by Welles, as well as friends, collaborators, and critics. Connection of some topics (such as a long entry on Stanley Kubrick) to Welles may be tenuous, but entries may also contain interesting surprises.

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  • Finding Aid for Richard Wilson-Orson Welles Papers, 1930–2000. Special Collections Library, University of Michigan.

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    Guide to correspondence, production information, and other materials in the library collection related to Welles and Wilson. Wilson worked with Welles as a close associate in the Mercury Theatre in New York and in Hollywood until the 1950s. The collection is an important resource for information on two crucial decades of Welles’s career.

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    • Guide to the Orson Welles Materials in the Lilly Library. Indiana University.

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      This archive has proved invaluable for new understandings of Welles’s life and working habits. Provides brief summary descriptions of the thousands of documents and other materials. Other document collections in this group include materials from one of Welles’s cameramen and his attorney. Other related collections at the Lilly Library are also listed.

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    • Orson Welles FBI Files. The Paperless Archives.

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      Files kept on Welles by the FBI from 1941 through 1976, documenting alleged “subversive” or even “Communist” tendencies. CD-ROM contains 194 pages, 140 of them marked by the Paperless Archives as “discernible” (not blacked out). Available for purchase.

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      • Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource.

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        Self-described as “the leading internet source of information about the life, career and works of Orson Welles.” Marred by lack of clear website design. Includes news of Welles-related events, interviews and reviews, lists of DVD recommendations, and links and additional information on individual films and on print and audio resources. Worth the sometimes difficult navigation to find some surprises. Maintained by Lawrence French.

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      • Wood, Bret. Orson Welles: A Bio-Bibliography. Bio-Bibliographies in the Performing Arts 8. New York: Greenwood, 1990.

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        Includes short biography of Welles and his career, even-handed but sometimes prone to naïve generalizations. Annotated entries on individual works in theater, radio, and film to which Welles contributed, including lost and unfinished projects. Although now more than two decades out of date and in need of more-careful proofreading, this book’s comprehensive scope makes it an important resource for Welles scholars.

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      Feature Films

      This section lists films directed by Welles that received theatrical release during his lifetime. Separate citations for authoritative DVD versions and packages are listed under each title, when available, along with citations for some important critical works. For other works by or featuring Welles, see Unfinished or Unreleased Works and Theater, Radio, and Other Media. Other Works for Film or Television includes productions that costar Welles, who might have had some additional influence on certain scenes or the film as a whole. Of the films listed in this section, almost none can be considered truly “complete,” due to various issues and controversies surrounding these films’ production and distribution. Even Citizen Kane had several scenes cut due to objections from Joseph Breen, director of the Production Code Administration, which enforced the Hollywood studios’ self-censorship rules. (See Carringer 1996, cited under Citizen Kane [1941].) Welles also had to fight for artistic control with every Hollywood studio he worked for after Citizen Kane. The Magnificent Ambersons, whose ending was recut and whose remaining footage by Welles was destroyed by RKO, is the most notorious example, but challenges also occurred with The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai, Macbeth, and Touch of Evil. (For more on Welles’s challenges with these studio films, see Heylin 2005, cited under Biographies, among others.) Those films shot by Welles in Europe, over which he usually had more artistic control, were still subject to reediting, sometimes by Welles himself and sometimes by film and video distribution companies. Those films include Othello, Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report), The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, The Immortal Story, and F for Fake. Restorations of some of these films have also been complicated by legal issues over parts of Welles’s estate. For more on the films in this section and their backgrounds, as well as extended critical discussions of individual films, see citations under Biographies, General Overviews, and Bibliographies and Other Resources.

      Citizen Kane (1941)

      Welles’s first feature film, made as part of an unprecedented deal with RKO Studios, came about after he had abandoned two other initial RKO projects, one an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the other a version of Nicholas Blake’s thriller The Smiler with a Knife (1938). In Citizen Kane, a reporter for a newsreel company is assigned to discover the meaning of the final word of recently deceased newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane—“Rosebud.” The life of Kane is retold through a fragmented series of flashbacks from interviews with and memoirs by people who had known Kane at points in his life. The films’ narrative structure, stylistic innovations (especially through Gregg Toland’s cinematography), and controversial subject matter (with Kane’s life loosely paralleling that of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst) have made this one of the most famous and significant motion pictures in American film history. Directed by Welles at the age of twenty-five, the film set a standard against which all his subsequent movies would be held. Kael 1971 drew renewed attention to the film but aroused considerable controversy at a time when American films and film criticism were becoming more sophisticated and film studies were becoming legitimized in colleges and universities. Berthomé and Thomas 1992 gives far more attention to the stylistic and technical details of the film than Kael or many other critics had done. Carringer 1996 provides a comprehensive and well-documented account of how the film came to be produced, debunking Kael’s claim that most of the credit for the screenplay and the resulting film should go to Welles’s cowriter Herman Mankiewicz. However, Carringer’s contention that Welles’s success with Citizen Kane still owed much to the collaborative nature of the Hollywood studio system has been challenged by other critics. Three anthologies (Gottesman 1971, Gottesman 1996, and Naremore 2004) offer perspectives across time on the reception and understanding of the film. Mulvey 1992 places Citizen Kane within larger social and psychoanalytic contexts. Ishaghpour 2011 contends that the film marked a turning point toward modernism for cinema. The Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition DVD set promises to offer the best nontheatrical viewing experience for the film (see Welles 2011).

      • Berthomé, Jean-Pierre, and François Thomas. Citizen Kane. Paris: Flammarion, 1992.

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        Detailed study of the film, by two French scholars. Examines separately the major aspects of the film’s narrative structure, cinematography, settings, editing, music, and soundtrack. Discusses the role of William Randolph Hearst as inspiration for the film’s plot but also notes that other figures from public life and Welles’s own life were inspirations for Kane and other characters.

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      • Carringer, Robert L. The Making of Citizen Kane. Rev. ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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        Provides a detailed production history that rebuts Kael’s claims about the film’s authorship. Still argues that the collaborative nature of the studio system was responsible for the film’s success. The 1996 edition discusses what happened to the Welles archives at RKO Studios originally used by Carringer and refers to other critical and scholarly works published since the book’s first edition. Originally published in 1985.

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      • Gottesman, Ronald, ed. Focus on Citizen Kane. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971.

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        One of the first collections of essays on Welles’s film. Includes contemporary reviews, critical articles, and essays by cinematographer Gregg Toland and composer Bernard Herrmann on their contributions to the motion picture. Still of value as a resource but should be evaluated in the light of later scholarship.

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      • Gottesman, Ronald, ed. Perspectives on Citizen Kane. New York: G. K. Hall, 1996.

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        Gottesman updates and expands on material from his earlier anthology. Includes a long overview of criticism on the film up until this book’s publication. Like Gottesman 1971, this is still a useful resource for general readers, undergraduate students, and scholars.

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      • Ishaghpour, Yousseff. Cours de Cinéma: “Citizen Kane” d’Orson Welles. Forum des Images, Paris. 21 January 2011.

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        A two-hour lecture on the film, in French, by the Iranian-born French film scholar. Citizen Kane marks the beginning of modern cinema, in the transition from a “cinema of action and presence” to a cinema of “reflexivity and representation, anchored in the question of time.” The video capture of the lecture includes clips from the film.

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      • Kael, Pauline. The Citizen Kane Book. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971.

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        Includes the screenplay by Welles and Herman Mankiewicz, the cutting continuity, and Kael’s essay “Raising Kane,” originally published in the New Yorker in 1971, which claimed that Welles stole credit from others, especially Mankiewicz. Kael’s essay has been superseded by later work, notably Carringer 1996, but it is still important, if only for the controversy it provoked. Republished as recently as 1985 (London: Methuen).

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      • Mulvey, Laura. Citizen Kane. BFI Film Classics. London: British Film Institute, 1992.

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        One of the BFI series of books by noted film critics and scholars on individual landmark films. Mulvey—whose essay “Film and Visual Pleasure” (1973) was one of the most influential critical essays on film—takes a historical and psychological approach to the film and its main character, in a long essay. Sometimes provocative and of interest to general readers.

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      • Naremore, James, ed. Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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        Includes a long introductory essay by Naremore, along with an interview of Welles by Peter Bogdanovich and essays by Carringer, Mulvey, Naremore, and others, dealing with the film’s technical, political, and aesthetic aspects. An excellent source for those seeking an overview of historical, technical, and critical issues related to the film.

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      • Welles, Orson. Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Blu-ray and DVD. New York: Warner Home Video, 2011.

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        This new restoration of the film includes valuable critical commentaries, interviews, and production materials. Also includes the radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds from 1938 and a 1940 interview between H. G. Wells and Orson Welles, as well as the PBS documentary The Battle over Citizen Kane (1996) and the fictionalized account of Citizen Kane’s production, RKO 281 (1999).

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      The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

      Welles’s second feature film, based on the 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington. The story centers on George Amberson Minafer (Tim Holt), snobbish scion of a fading Midwestern aristocratic family. George intervenes when his widowed mother (Dolores Costello) is wooed by her former love, auto manufacturer Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotten), only to receive his own “comeuppance” as the family fortune disappears and he loses both his mother and Eugene’s daughter Lucy (Anne Baxter). While Welles was in South America shooting footage for It’s All True (cited under Unfinished or Unreleased Works), an early preview of The Magnificent Ambersons received an unfavorable reception, and the studio invoked its right to take away Welles’s editorial control. The ending was reshot and parts of the film were reedited. The remaining footage shot by Welles was destroyed by the studio. Acclaimed and mourned by many critics as a lost or damaged masterpiece, the film as released by RKO has provoked controversy ever since about Welles’s own role, in what some critics have described as his own “comeuppance.” Despite the film’s “mutilation,” it has been listed several times in international surveys as among the greatest films of all time. Jeff Lightfoot’s The Magnificent Ambersons website is a useful introduction to the film for beginners, but the “reconstructed” continuity created in Carringer 1993 is a vital resource for students and scholars seeking to understand Welles’s intentions. Perkins 1999 is a formalist analysis of the film that provides a useful contrast to studies such as Fitzsimmons 2000 and others in regard to the film’s “realism.” Kamp 2002 and The Magnificent Ambersons website offer accessible overviews of the film and its history. Until 2011, the only DVD versions of the film have been made for European or other international audiences. A new Region 1 DVD version of this film is available as part of a package with Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition (see Welles 2011, cited under Citizen Kane [1941]). The best video version of the film otherwise is the 1993 two-disc set in the now-obsolete laserdisc format from Voyager’s Criterion Collection, featuring voice-over commentary by Welles scholar Robert Carringer and other ancillary materials. A VHS version of the film was released by Turner Home Video in 1989.

      • Carringer, Robert L. The Magnificent Ambersons: A Reconstruction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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        Recreates the original cutting continuity of the film as Welles may have intended it. Carringer’s introductory essay, “Oedipus in Indiana,” offers background to the film that attempts to account for Welles’s own culpability in his intended project’s failure. An important resource for scholars as well as for anyone with an interest in what was lost from the original film.

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      • Fitzsimmons, Lorna. “The Magnificent Ambersons: Unmasking the Code.” Literature/Film Quarterly 28.4 (2000): 293–302.

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        A semiotic analysis of shots and sequences that highlights how the film’s self-reflexivity plays against the coded “realism” of the diegesis (the total film-world implied through the film and constructed by the viewer). Recommended for graduate students and scholars.

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      • Kamp, David. “Magnificent Obsession.” Vanity Fair, January 2002.

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        Long article about Welles’s film in light of the 2002 made-for-television “remake” directed by Alfonso Arau. Recounts how Welles lost control of the final edit, and tracks different stories about what happened to the missing footage.

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      • The Magnificent Ambersons.

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        Includes details about the film’s narrative, style, and history; profiles of the film’s major characters; shots from the film; images of publicity materials; and articles about the film in various contemporaneous film fan magazines. Also includes a few production photos, some from scenes deleted from the final film release by RKO. Useful as background to the film for nonscholars. Maintained by Jeff Lightfoot.

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      • Perkins, V. F. The Magnificent Ambersons. BFI Film Classics. London: British Film Institute, 1999.

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        British film scholar Perkins provides background to the film and its controversial history, and he also gives a detailed, part-by-part analysis. Pays particular attention to Welles’s voice as the film’s narrator in defining the story’s trajectory and playing against the voices of the characters themselves.

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      The Stranger (1946)

      The third project completed by Welles for RKO as part of his original contract, and the most “ordinary” of his finished productions. Welles plays Franz Kindler, a Nazi war criminal who is hiding as a teacher at a boys school under the name “Charles Rankin” and who is engaged to the headmaster’s daughter, Mary (Loretta Young). Kindler comes to be suspected by an investigator for the Allied War Crimes Commission (Edward G. Robinson), who reveals the criminal’s true nature to Mary. Mary initially tries to shield Kindler, but in the end, she precipitates his death in a fall from a clock tower, and he is impaled on one of the clock’s moving figures. About eighteen minutes were cut from the beginning of the film, including scenes that gave greater context for the relationship between Kindler and Mary and the arrival at the school of a former Nazi associate of Kindler’s. The original footage has been lost. Critical accounts differ as to how much Welles willingly conformed to studio demands in order to redeem his reputation, which had been damaged by the failure of The Magnificent Ambersons and his unfinished South American documentary It’s All True. (See Unfinished or Unreleased Works). Palmer 1984–1985 is one of the few serious commentaries on the film outside of discussion in works covering more-extended periods of Welles’s career. For more on this topic see Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources) and citations in Biographies and General Overviews. A “remastered” print of the film is now available both on high-definition DVD and Blu-ray discs, issued in a single package.

      • Palmer, R. Barton. “The Politics of Genre in Welles’ The Stranger.” Film Criticism 9.2 (Fall–Winter 1984–1985): 2–14.

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        Criticizes auteurist analysis as inherently limiting. Places the film within the context of film noir, contrasting it with Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1942). Welles’s film is less psychologically complex than Hitchcock’s, but its use of horror film conventions is more historically interesting than auteur criticism can account for. Recommended for graduate students, Welles scholars, and film genre scholars.

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      The Lady from Shanghai (1946)

      Freely adapted by Welles from Sherwood King’s novel If I Should Die before I Wake (1938). The film’s story is a complex set of interweaving plots and counterplots involving Michael O’Hara (Welles), a seaman with a dark past; Elsa Bannister (Welles’s then-wife Rita Hayworth); her lawyer-husband Arthur (Everett Sloan); and his partner Grisby (Glenn Anders). Following an extended sea voyage on Bannister’s yacht, Michael is framed for Grisby’s murder and deliberately “defended” incompetently by Arthur because of Michael’s affair with his wife. In the film’s wild conclusion, Michael escapes from the courtroom and is chased through San Francisco’s Chinatown, eventually confronting Arthur and Elsa in a carnival mirror maze, where the husband and wife wind up killing each other. Columbia’s studio boss, Harry Cohn, insisted on cuts and retakes of shots, damaging the narrative coherence of the film, which was finally released by Columbia as a “B” picture (the bottom half of a double-feature film package). Dismissed for years as a minor Welles film, it has gained new appreciation by critics, especially for its place within the emerging trend in 1940s Hollywood cinema that would come to be known as film noir. As an example, see Pippin 2011. Scott 2007 gives primary attention to the film’s technical and stylistic aspects. In addition to these articles, extended discussions of the film can be found in most of the books cited under Biographies and General Overviews, as well as in books and articles about film noir as a genre. The DVD version of the film released by Columbia Classics in 2000 includes voice-over commentary by critic Peter Bogdanovich.

      • Pippin, Robert B. “Agency and Fate in Orson Welles’s The Lady from Shanghai.” Critical Inquiry 37.2 (Winter 2011): 214–244.

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        A philosopher’s examination of the film’s fatalism and the potential for willed action by the main character (Michael) as a major example of the fatalistic ethos of film noir. A potentially provocative piece for discussions of the film, of film noir, and of human freedom versus determinism.

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      • Scott, Jason Mark. “Give My Love to the Sunrise: The Lady from Shanghai.” Bright Lights Film Journal 58 (November 2007).

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        Despite the film’s mishandling by Columbia Studios, Scott argues that it “portends [Welles’s] approaching, self-imposed exile” and “represents perhaps Welles’ most formally masterful exploration of the cinematic medium.”

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      Macbeth (1948)

      Described by Welles himself as an “experimental” attempt to make a successful film quickly and on a tight budget, his version of Shakespeare’s play, with himself in the title role, was shot in twenty-three days for Republic Pictures, one of Hollywood’s “Poverty Row” studios. Welles cut several characters and scenes from the play, with the original release of the film running at 107 minutes. Another major change to the text was the introduction of a Christian “Holy Father” (Alan Napier), in order to cast the play as an allegorical confrontation between a pagan past and an emerging Christian hegemony. Following unfavorable previews, the studio cut another twenty minutes from the film and forced Welles to redub the Scottish accents his actors originally used with more “normal” accents. In 1980 the film archives at the University of California, Los Angeles, released a new print of the film restored to Welles’s original design, including the soundtrack. Although still problematic as a film, Welles’s Macbeth has since received new appreciation for the number of things that do succeed in this version. See especially Anderegg 1999 (cited under General Overviews) for an extended discussion. Lindley 2001 criticizes the film’s ahistorical creation of a mythic “medieval” past, but Smith 2011 contends that the film can be better understood by examining its use of horror film conventions. Both articles move discussion of the film away from auteurist analysis. Many bad video copies of the studio release have been in circulation. A good Region 1 DVD of the restored film is not yet available, although the restored version of the film can be found on some all-region or Region 2 (PAL) DVDs from Europe or Korea. Also see Theater, Radio, and Other Media.

      • Lindley, Arthur. “Scotland Saved from History: Welles’s Macbeth and the Ahistoricism of Medieval Film.” Literature/Film Quarterly 29.2 (2001): 96–101.

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        Argues that Welles’s film perpetuates popular misconceptions about the Middle Ages, and suggests that the film further influenced film portrayals of the era, such as Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957) and Roman Polanski’s later adaptation of Macbeth (1971). Useful for discussions of film “realism,” the portrayal of historical periods in film, and the problems of genre and artistic influence.

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      • Smith, Amanda J. “Defining Welles’ Macbeth: Hollywood Horror and the Hybrid Mode.” Literature/Film Quarterly 39.2 (2011): 151–159.

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        Takes issue with approaches to the film as succeeding or failing within the “filmic mode” supposedly typical of auteur directors. Places Welles’s Macbeth within the tradition of the horror film, specifically James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Useful for prompting discussion of film adaptations of Shakespeare and of the roles and influences of film genre.

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      Othello (1952)

      Following the critical failures of The Lady from Shanghai and Macbeth, Welles left Hollywood to spend much of the rest of his life in Europe. He would return intermittently to the United States to act in films or to direct theatrical productions (and later to appear on television shows and in commercials), but he would direct only one more feature film for an American studio (Touch of Evil). Othello, his first European film production, achieved critical success, winning the Palme d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, but like Welles’s other films it too exists in different editions. The controversial 1992 “restoration” of the film, authorized by Welles’s daughter Beatrice, is considered by some critics to be only another version of the film, rather than whatever Welles himself might have finally intended. Some critics still prefer the 1995 Criterion laserdisc version as closer to Welles’s actual intentions. Anderegg 1999 (cited under General Overviews) discusses this issue in detail but suggests that the problem of a “definitive” version of the film may never be settled. Also see MacLiammóir 1976 (cited under Memoirs by Others). Welles’s unreleased Filming Othello retrospectively explored his project in a documentary/essay format that pointed to the later F for Fake. Lawrence French (Filming Othello) offers the film’s transcript.

      • French, Lawrence. Filming Othello.

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        Includes a transcript of Welles’s final unreleased film project, the documentary Filming Othello (1978). (See Unfinished or Unreleased Works.) Also includes additional background materials on Welles’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Lacking Welles’s actual documentary, this transcript is an invaluable resource for students and scholars of Welles’s Othello and for those interested in Welles’s later career and forays into documentaries.

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      Mr. Arkadin (1955)

      Inspired by one or more stories in the British “Harry Lime” radio series Welles starred in, the film follows a drifter named Van Stratten (Robert Arden), who comes to encounter a powerful and enigmatic man named Mr. Arkadin (Welles). Arkadin claims not to remember anything about his own life prior to 1927, and he hires Van Stratten to find out what he can about those early years. Van Stratten’s discoveries eventually lead to a final confrontation with Arkadin. That brief summary does not begin to hint at the complexities of the narrative, compounded by the film’s release history. One of Welles’s most troubled projects, the film was recut by the producers, and the resulting release was usually regarded by critics as a minor and confusing work in the Welles canon. Green 2009 places the production and its various versions within a historical perspective. The Complete Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report) (see Welles 2006) finally offers viewers the opportunity to contrast and compare different versions of this film.

      • Green, Geoffrey. “‘There Is No Logic in This’: Orson Welles’s Transgressive Challenge to Cold War Paranoia in Mr. Arkadin (1955).” Interdisciplinary Humanities 26.1 (Spring 2009): 6–10.

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        Discusses the troubled history of the film’s production and release, but concentrates on the film’s political position in light of Welles’s own politics and the FBI’s interest in the director during the Cold War.

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      • Welles, Orson, dir. The Complete Mr. Arkadin (a.k.a. Confidential Report). DVD. Criterion Collection 322. Irvington, NY: Criterion Collection, 2006.

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        An astounding resource. The boxed set includes three versions of Welles’s film, critical audio commentary, and Simon Callow’s interview with Robert Arden. Also includes three episodes of The Lives of Harry Lime, a documentary about the film, and materials from the production, as well as the novel and a booklet with three critical essays.

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      Touch of Evil (1958)

      Freely adapted by Welles from Whit Masterson’s 1956 novel Badge of Evil. The film opens as a car crossing the border from Mexico into the United States explodes, witnessed by Miguel Vargas (Charlton Heston), a Mexican working for an international drug control agency, and his new bride, Susan (Janet Leigh). Investigating the murder because of his concerns for its implications for US-Mexican relations, Vargas meets and eventually confronts Hank Quinlan, the local sheriff, who has grown fat and unkempt over the years since the murder of his own wife. When Quinlan frames a young Hispanic man for the murder, Vargas begins to work to expose the sheriff. In response, Quinlan is driven to team up with the local crime boss (Akim Tamiroff), whose own brother had been sent to prison by Vargas, in an attempt to terrorize and frame Susan for drug use. Vargas persuades Quinlan’s long-time partner Menzies (Joseph Calleia) to wear a wire during a meeting between Menzies and Quinlan. When Quinlan discovers the betrayal, he shoots Menzies and is about to shoot Vargas when he is killed by his former partner, in a dying gesture. Susan and Vargas are then reunited and drive away together. Accounts from Heston and Welles differ as to how Welles came to direct the project, but the result was another film recut by the studio and met with critical disapproval. The film was championed, though, by auteur critics in France, who also marked the film’s place in the set of American films of the 1940s and 1950s that they labeled film noir. They and other critics noted not only the psychological and moral complexity of the film but also its stylistic innovations, especially in Russell Metty’s cinematography. The film’s opening sequence, filmed in a very long, single take with a moving camera, is now one of the most renowned shots in film history. The film itself was restored to close to its full length in 1976 (although using footage not shot by Welles) and again in 1998 to a version based on a lengthy memo written by Welles himself, reproduced by French. The film is now often regarded as one of Welles’s greatest works. Lawrence French reproduces Welles’s memo to the studio (see Orson Welles’ Memo on Touch of Evil). Comito 1985 is still a useful starting place for students. Rollins 2006 traces critical reactions to the film over time, from one particular perspective. The Touch of Evil 50th Anniversary Edition DVD set (see Welles 2008) offers as complete a perspective on the film’s evolution and different versions as can be found outside of a film archive.

      • Comito, Terry, ed. Touch of Evil: Orson Welles, Director. Rutgers Film in Print 3. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985.

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        Now dated, the anthology includes some contemporaneous reviews of the film when released, interviews with Welles and Heston, and critical essays, as well as a continuity script based on the 1976 restoration. The commentaries and interviews continue to be of interest, although Stephen Heath’s important essay is best suited to graduate students and scholars.

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      • French, Lawrence, ed. Orson Welles’ Memo on Touch of Evil.

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        Online version of the fifty-eight-page memo from Welles to the studio that was eventually used as the basis for the 1998 restoration, with an introduction by Lawrence French.

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      • Rollins, Brooke. “‘Some Kind of a Man’: Orson Welles as Touch of Evil’s Masculine Auteur.” Velvet Light Trap 57 (Spring 2006): 32–41.

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        Reviews the film’s production history and the movie’s place in defining Welles as an auteur director. Examines critical reactions to the film over time to suggest that “our investment in authorial wholeness is inextricably linked to an investment in idealized masculine potency.” Recommended for graduate students and scholars.

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      • Welles, Orson, dir. Touch of Evil 50th Anniversary Edition. DVD. Universal City, CA: Universal, 2008.

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        Contains three versions of the film, including the 1998 restoration by Walter Murch and four sets of commentaries, including a discussion with Heston and Leigh. Other features include two documentaries about the film and its 1998 restoration and the original trailer. The set also includes Welles’s memo that was the basis for the restoration. An invaluable resource.

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      The Trial (1962)

      An adaptation of Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel from 1925. The film opens with a “pin-screen” animated sequence, “Before the Law,” itself an adaptation of a fable that is told by one of Kafka’s characters midway through the novel. The main narrative of the film itself follows Kafka’s story, although Welles rearranged the order of some events. Josef K (Anthony Perkins) is a young bureaucrat who is visited by three strangers identified as police. They inform him that he is under arrest but refuse to name his crime. They allow Josef to remain free, and he has a series of encounters with different individuals as he tries to discover the reason for his arrest. At the chaotic trial itself, Josef is represented by an advocate played by Welles, who then repeats the allegory of the law that began the film, with Josef superimposed on the images. Josef is then taken by two men to a quarry, where they throw him in and then toss in a bomb. Joseph picks up the dynamite to throw it back, and the film ends with a series of explosions. Critical reaction to the motion picture has been mixed ever since it was released, but Welles himself claimed that it was his best film. The published screenplay (Welles 1970) is actually a transcription into English from a French print, so its complete accuracy is somewhat doubtful. Welles’s 1962 interview with the BBC (Welles 1962) offers some insight into Welles’s understanding and use of Kafka and production background. The film’s copyright has gone into the public domain, so it is available in DVD format from several different outlets. The version released by Milestone Films is generally considered to be the best quality. The “Before the Law” sequence, the film’s trailer, and some scenes are available at YouTube.com, although their visual and sound quality varies.

      • Welles, Orson. BBC Interview: Orson Welles on The Trial. 1962. Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource.

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        Transcript of a short interview with Welles by Huw Wheldon of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Welles refers to the film as “inspired by the book, in which my collaborator and partner is Kafka.” Discusses the use of settings in Zagreb and the Gare D’Orsay train station (now the Musée d’Orsay) in Paris.

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      • Welles, Orson. The Trial: A Film. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970.

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        One of the Modern Film Scripts paperback series published by Simon and Schuster in the 1960s and 1970s. Contains a transcription of the completed film, translated from French by Nicholas Fry. Includes excerpt of interview with Welles by the journal Cahiers du cinema.

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      Chimes at Midnight (1966)

      The culmination of Welles’s long interest in Shakespeare’s character Sir John Falstaff, whom Welles liked to call “the last good man.” Welles’s screenplay combines parts of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2; The Merry Wives of Windsor; and material from Richard II and Henry V. Excerpts from Holinshed’s Chronicles, read by Sir Ralph Richardson, provide historical context for the drama, quickly establishing that King Henry IV (John Gielgud), who had seized the crown from Richard II, is now himself challenged by a rebellion. One of the leaders is Sir Henry Percy, known as “Hotspur” (Norman Rodway), whose heroic character the king contrasts to that of his own son, Prince Hal, who leads a seemingly wasteful life with Falstaff and others in the tavern/brothel run by Mistress Quickly (Margaret Rutherford). As civil war breaks out, Hal, Falstaff, and their entourage are called to join the fight, culminating in a remarkable staging of the Battle of Shrewsbury. At the end of the battle, Hal kills Hotspur but Falstaff takes the credit. Later, as Falstaff visits his old friend Justice Shallow, Hal reconciles with his dying father. Learning of the old king’s death, Falstaff rushes to the court, only to find himself banished by the new King Henry V. The film ends following Mistress Quickly’s account of Falstaff’s death, with his body being taken off for burial as Richardson reads, in ironic counterpoint, Holinshed’s summary praise for the reign of the new king who had abandoned his friend. The film was criticized for its technical flaws and unorthodox adaptation of Shakespeare, but audiences and critics have come to see it as one of Welles’s greatest works. See especially the analyses in Anderegg 1999 and Naremore 1989 (both cited under General Overviews). Lyons 1988 is a good starting place for students of the film. Cardullo 2006 supplements Anderegg 1999 (cited under General Overviews) and others in discussing modern adaptations of Shakespeare. Larsson 2001 offers a warm appreciation of the film. Chimes at Midnight is yet another Welles production whose copyright remains in legal limbo, so no definitive video version is readily accessible in North America. A Region 2 DVD was released in the United Kingdom in 2011, and French and Spanish Region 2 DVDs are also available. Excerpts from the film are available online at YouTube.com.

      • Cardullo, Bert, ed. and trans. A Critical Edition of Two Modern Plays on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff: Chimes at Midnight, by Orson Welles, and The Knight of the Moon, or Sir John Falstaff, by Fernand Crommelynck. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2006.

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        Examines how the character of Falstaff evolved in the 20th century to become a central figure in his own right. Contrasts the modernist approaches of Welles and of the Belgian playwright Crommelynk. Includes detailed bibliographies.

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      • Larsson, Don. After Midnight: A Look Back at Orson Welles’ Last Great Film. CineScene: Reviews by and for Movie Lovers. 2001.

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        An appreciation of Chimes at Midnight that highlights Welles’s theme of friendship betrayed and the ironic applications of the word “honor” in a 20th-century work.

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      • Lyons, Bridget Gellert, ed. Chimes at Midnight: Orson Welles, Director. Rutgers Films in Print 11. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1988.

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        From the Rutgers Films in Print series. Includes an introductory essay by Lyons and commentaries by Michael Anderegg, C. L. Barber, and Dudley Andrew. A collection of contemporary reviews includes Pauline Kael’s sympathetic review. The bulk of the book is taken up by the shot-by-shot cutting continuity for the film, which is valuable for analysis of the film.

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      The Immortal Story (1968)

      This short film (fifty-eight minutes long) was originally produced for French television and then given theatrical release in the United Kingdom and the United States. Adapted by Welles from a short story by the Danish writer Isaak Dinesen (pseudonym of Karen Blixen). Mr. Clay (Welles), a reclusive, decaying millionaire living in Macao, tells a story he once heard to his accountant (Roger Coggio). The story is about a rich, old man who pays a sailor to impregnate his wife and give him an heir. The accountant dismisses the story as a common myth, but Clay vows to make the story real. He hires Paul (Norman Eshley) to be the sailor but also hires the “wife,” Virginie (Jeanne Moreau), whose own father had been ruined by Clay. Clay watches the couple make love, but his plan is foiled when Paul refuses Clay’s money and tells the old man that the story will end with him, since no one will believe that it actually happened. Clay then dies, as Welles later claimed, “of disappointment.” Danks’s essay “The Immortal Story: Like the Sound of the Sea Deep within a Shell” (Danks 2006) exemplifies the appreciation other critics and biographers have shown for this small but well-crafted piece. Welles’s 1966 letter to Joseph Cotten offers some insights to the film’s genesis (Welles 1966). The film has been available on VHS videotape, but the only DVD version currently available is a Region 2 Italian import. Clips are available online, and the entire film is available to subscribers at Hulu.com.

      F for Fake (1973)

      The last film by Welles completed and released in his lifetime is an extended meditation on the nature of art, the difference between fiction and fakery, and the complementary roles of the artist and the conman. Welles began the project working with François Reichenbach, a French documentary filmmaker who had made a film about Elmyr de Hory, an art forger who had been the subject of a popular book by the author Clifford Irving, an acquaintance of Welles’s. As Welles worked with Reichenbach’s footage, it was revealed that Irving himself had been responsible for perpetrating a major hoax with the publication of a forged “autobiography” of the reclusive and eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Hughes himself exposed the forgery, and Welles incorporated this new angle into his film, along with consideration of his own relationship to fakery as a magician and an artist. This film, like other Welles works, divided critics on its release, and it was a commercial failure. Many now regard it as a key to understanding Welles and his career, as well as an attempt at forging a new direction in documentary form. In addition to F for Fake: The Criterion Collection (Wells 2005), excerpts can be found online at YouTube.com. Thieme 1997 is the only book-length study of Welles’s film so far. Castle 2004 is a brief essay and one of a number of reviews and informal essays that can be found online and elsewhere. For more-extended discussions of the film, see citations in Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources) and citations in Biographies and General Overviews.

      • Castle, Robert. “F for Fake: The Ultimate Mirror of Orson Welles.” Bright Lights Film Journal 45 (August 2004).

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        An appreciation of the film that places it in the context of Welles’s acknowledgment of the “postmodern” throughout his career. Claims it is “his most explicit statement about contemporary reality, leaving little room for greatness, let alone tragedy.”

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      • Thieme, Claudia. F for Fake, and the Growth in Complexity of Orson Welles’ Documentary Form. New York: Peter Lang, 1997.

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        Examines the film in relation to other works by Welles, going back to the “News on the March” sequence from Citizen Kane. Recommended for scholars and others with an interest in F for Fake itself, the totality of Welles’s career, or film documentary as a form.

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      • Welles, Orson, dir. F for Fake. DVD. Criterion Collection 288. Irvington, NY: Criterion Collection, 2005.

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        Two-disc set includes audio commentary by Oja Kodar and cinematographer Gary Graver, critical essays, and an innovative nine-minute trailer. Other extras include film and television pieces about de Hory and Irving’s Hughes hoax. Also includes Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (1995), about Welles’s unfinished projects. An entertaining and useful set for fans, students, and scholars of Welles’s.

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      Unfinished or Unreleased Works

      Over the course of his lifetime, Welles began many film projects that were never completed or released. Some never advanced beyond a screenplay or notes by the director. Some were reportedly very close to completion before Welles’s death, but attempts to finish the works and release them have been stymied by financial and legal considerations. At least some footage of several of the projects listed below is available through video or online resources, and some is available on foreign DVDs, even if not always easily accessed by a North American audience. That very fact also throws into question what works by Welles are truly “unfinished” or even “unreleased.” Few of Welles’s films, if any, were truly “completed” in the manner that Welles himself might have envisioned. Some, such as Othello, Mr. Arkadin, and Touch of Evil, exist in various versions, and some critics, such as the authors of Anderegg 1999 and Rosenbaum 2007 (both cited under General Overviews), suggest that different versions may each have at least some claim to legitimacy as a “complete” (if not comprehensive) work. Some works regarded as minor or peripheral by American critics have become listed as “unreleased” simply because they have been unavailable in North America, even if they have been shown at film festivals or on European television. This section highlights several major projects by Welles that have not typically been regarded as part of the Welles “canon,” if such a thing could be said to exist. Shots from some of the productions are featured in the documentary Orson Welles: The One-Man Band, produced by Oja Kodar and directed by Vassili Silovic, which itself exists in several versions (cited under F for Fake [1973]). (Portions can also be found online at YouTube.com.) For a comprehensive listing of major and minor projects, see Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources). For further discussions, see Rippy 2009 and citations in Biographies and General Overviews. Rippy also gives consideration to projects that Welles considered at RKO before starting Citizen Kane, including Heart of Darkness (based on Conrad’s novel), The Smiler with a Knife (from a novel by Nicholas Blake), and Mexican Melodrama. The script for the latter is discussed in Naremore 1989 (cited under General Overviews). Much of the existing footage of minor or unfinished works by Welles was given by Oja Kodar to the Munich Film Museum, whose director, Stefan Drossler, has put together several touring exhibits in Germany, the United States, and elsewhere under the title “The Unknown Orson Welles.” Program booklets by Drossler for those exhibitions can also be found for purchase online.

      • Rippy, Marguerite H. Orson Welles and the Unfinished RKO Projects: A Postmodern Perspective. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2009.

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        Argues that Welles’s unfinished projects at RKO “deconstruct the ideal of artistic unity within an organic product” (p. 4). Notes four recurrent features in Welles’s work: experiment with narration, adapting classic texts for mass audiences, “modern primitivism” as political discourse, and “exploration of the line between reality and fiction” (p. 5). Recommended for graduate students and scholars.

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      It’s All True (1941–1942)

      Welles’s planned documentary about South America, It’s All True, may be the most significant of his “unfinished” works in terms of his art and the direction his career would take. While completing The Magnificent Ambersons at RKO, Welles was already planning film projects that would examine cultural forms of expression throughout the Americas, including The Story of Jazz and the almost-completed Bonito the Bull, produced by Welles and shot by Norman Foster on location in Mexico. Nelson Rockefeller, a part-owner of RKO at the time, was serving the Franklin D.Roosevelt administration, with responsibility for overseeing and implementing the “Good Neighbor Policy” toward Latin America that Roosevelt had announced at the beginning of his administration. That policy now had a new urgency due to the outbreak of World War II, and Rockefeller offered cofunding with RKO for a film that would include sequences to be shot in Brazil. While in Brazil, Welles devoted a great deal of time shooting scenes of the annual Carnival and taking his camera to the favelas, the slums of Rio de Janeiro where samba music originated. He also embarked on filming the epic journey of four fishermen on a raft down the Amazon to bring grievances about their economic exploitation to the president of Brazil. That journey itself ended in tragedy when one of the fishermen was drowned in a restaging of their arrival for the camera. In the meantime, management changes at RKO resulted in Welles losing control over the final cut of The Magnificent Ambersons while he acquired a growing reputation as a spendthrift who could not commit to finishing a project. Eventually, he was forced to abandon working on It’s All True as well. As Benamou 2007 makes clear, this “lost” film acquired its own mythic status over many years, with some of the footage being used in individual films and projects but most of it languishing in the film vaults until it was rediscovered in the 1990s. A reconstruction of portions of Welles’s film was assembled from this footage in 1993 and is now available on DVD (see Welles 2004). For more on the project, see Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources) and other citations in Biographies and General Overviews, especially Rosenbaum 2007. The University of British Columbia student blog Projections: What Latin America Tells Us at the Movies has potential as a model for interdisciplinary and collaborative study.

      • Benamou, Catherine L. It’s All True: Orson Welles’s Pan-American Odyssey. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

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        History and analysis of Welles’s project, by the film scholar who aided in its reconstruction. Includes a history of Welles’s project and a reconstruction of the written text, drawing from interviews conducted by Benamou. Highly recommended for scholars interested in the project, its political context, and the creation and uses of “myth” in the evaluation of an artist’s career.

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      • Projections: What Latin America Tells Us at the Movies. 14 November 2005.

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        Posted by undergraduate researchers at the University of British Columbia. Briefly sketches the history of Welles’s project, comparing it to Eisenstein’s unfinished Qué Viva México! Comments that both films are studies “in the expressivity of the human face,” with the characters’ faces “monuments rather than windows.” A useful prompt for discussion and thought about the portrayal of the “other” in documentaries.

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      • Welles, Orson. It’s All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles. DVD. Hollywood, CA: Paramount, 2004.

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        Portions of Welles’s footage—particularly the “Four Men on a Raft” segment—were reconstructed for this DVD, with commentary by long-time Welles associate Richard Wilson, film critic Martin Meisel, and Catherine Benamou. This documentary about a documentary is the best opportunity to see some parts of what Welles filmed and what might have been the final result of the project.

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      Don Quixote

      Adapted by Welles from the novel by Miguel Cervantes, and the most legendary of all of Welles’s unfinished projects. Shot in Spain over a period of eighteen years, Welles improvised sets and costumes and shot both on 35 mm and 16 mm film, in color and in black-and-white. Scenes were filmed intermittently during this period, while Welles worked on other projects to raise money for the film, but the passage of time complicated production further. Welles was just able to complete shooting scenes with Francisco Reigueara, who played Quixote, not long before the actor’s death. Welles updated Cervantes by placing the mad old knight and his “squire” Sancho Panza (Akim Tamiroff) as wanderers in a 20th-century landscape, no more or less alien to the old man’s mind than 15th-century Spain had been for Cervantes’s original hero. Despite the many delays in completing the film, Welles always talked about finishing it one day. He even joked that he would rename it “When Are You Going to Finish Don Quixote?,” and some biographers and critics have taken that as the real title. Since Welles’s death, different parts of the film have been held by different parties, and this project, like others, has been subject to legal disputes and copyright claims. A forty-five-minute version of some of Welles’s footage was shown as Don Quixote de Orson Welles at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992, although it met with mostly negative reactions as incorporating footage that was not actually part of Welles’s project and for its inferior image and sound quality. Cobos 2008 offers important background information on the film’s start-and-stop production. For more on the project, see Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources) and citations in Biographies and General Overviews, especially Rosenbaum 2007. A US DVD version of the 1992 release is available from Image Entertainment. Other scenes from the film can be found on YouTube.

      The Merchant of Venice (1969)

      Welles had dealt with Shakespeare’s play often in his career—as one of the plays highlighted in The Mercury Shakespeare, in directing the play, and in recording it for radio. The film was supposedly shot and completed, but it never received its final edit because two reels were stolen. Some clips have been shown from time to time, but otherwise this film remains one of Welles’s most frustratingly obscure productions. The film is discussed, along with other unfinished projects, in Silovic and Kodar 1995. Another rare glimpse of this film is provided in Welles and Bogdanovich 1992.

      • Silovic, Vassili, and Oja Kodar, dirs. Orson Welles: The One-Man Band. VHS. Saskatoon, Canada: Robertsvideos, 1995.

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        In this tribute to Welles, reviewing many of his unfinished or unreleased projects, Oja Kodar (Welles’s final companion and collaborator) comments on The Merchant of Venice, along with a few images, among the only ones available from Welles’s own film.

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      • Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich. This Is Orson Welles. Edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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        Bogdanovich briefly describes shots from The Merchant of Venice, which Welles was shooting while being interviewed. Welles briefly describes his idea of adapting the play so that the character Basanio disguises himself as each the three other suitors for the hand of Portia. It is unclear whether this concept was actually incorporated into Welles’s film.

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      The Deep (1967–1969)

      Based on Charles Williams’s novel Dead Calm (later adapted and directed by Philip Noyce with Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, and Billy Zane). A couple sailing on a honeymoon cruise rescue a young man from a sinking yacht but discover he is not the victim they thought he was. Welles abandoned the film when it became impossible to complete it, although he made some attempts to salvage the project. Some footage (shot both in color and in black and white) has been exhibited from time to time, but it is difficult even to reconstruct the plot coherently. The film is discussed, along with other unfinished projects, in Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (Silovic and Kodar 1995, cited under Memoirs by Others), as well as in several of the works cited under Biographies and Interviews. The materials listed online by Lawrence French in “Notes on Orson Welles’ The Deep” (French 2007) are especially revealing.

      The Other Side of the Wind (1970)

      The one unfinished project by Welles that is most tantalizingly close to being completed and exhibited in some form. Filmed over a period of six years, the film (with a story heavily influenced by Welles’s companion, the Croatian actress Oja Kodar) is centered on the seventy-fifth birthday celebration of Jake Hannaford (John Huston), a film director famous for his extravagant personality. While surrounded by friends, lovers, and sycophants, scenes from Hannaford’s latest film (also titled The Other Side of the Wind) are shown. At the end, the director confronts the failures and disappointments of his life and drives away. Soon after, he is reported dead in an accident. The film also features Welles himself in a supporting role, as well as many of his own friends, lovers, and sycophants. The critic Joseph McBride has a part in the film, as does Peter Bogdanovich (who plays two roles). The nearly finished film was actually assembled in a rough cut, but because it had been heavily financed by a relative of the shah of Iran, it became the property of the revolutionary Islamic government after the overthrow of the shah in 1979. Some excerpts have been shown on occasion and a few clips are available on YouTube.com, including a near-silent seduction scene in a car from the film within the film. Rumors have circulated for years that a complete print is about to be assembled and exhibited, possibly on a cable network, but nothing has come to pass so far. Journalist Josh Karp is working on a book about the film’s production and failure. Various materials relating to this project are available at Archive for "The Other Side of the Wind".

      Filming Othello

      This documentary about the making of Othello was completed and exhibited before Welles’s death, so it is sometimes listed by others as one of his completed works. It is listed here because of its current unavailability due to issues with Welles’s estate. For more on this project and a transcript of the screenplay, see French’s article Filming Othello.

      • French, Lawrence. Filming Othello. Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource.

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        Includes a transcript of Welles’s final unreleased film project, the documentary Filming Othello (1978). Lacking access to Welles’s actual film footage, this transcript provides insight into Welles’s experiments with documentary form, as well as his adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Introduction by Lawrence French.

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      The Dreamers

      Based, like The Immortal Story, on stories by Isaak Dinesen. Welles shot about twenty minutes of footage to try to raise funds for the project but never succeeded in getting the necessary financing. The Dreamers: Orson Welles Poetic Masterpiece provides a scene from the screenplay.

      Other Works for Film or Television

      In addition to the feature film releases and uncompleted projects listed in this bibliography, Welles directed other films or television shows during his lifetime that were not necessarily intended for theatrical release. Some were short films made for his own amusement or for use in theatrical productions, such as footage shot in 1938 (now lost) for a stage production of William Gillette’s Too Much Johnson. Some were television shows and series that Welles directed and starred in. See Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources), the chronology in Welles and Bogdonovich 1992 (cited under Interviews), and works in Biographies and General Overviews for comprehensive listings and further details. This section refers to some of the more notable examples, important for themselves or for their place in Welles’s artistic development and career and that are not totally lost or destroyed. Hearts of Age (1934) (see Welles 1934) may have been intended as a joke or parody, but it has continued to intrigue critics and biographers for its themes of death and mortality. Welles’s two BBC series, The Orson Welles Sketchbook (1955) (see Welles 1955) and Around the World with Orson Welles (see Welles 1999), are both of interest for finding favor with British audiences. The latter is especially provocative for the people and places that Welles chose to visit—not just exotic venues such as Jean Cocteau’s Paris apartment or a bullfight in Madrid, but also visiting elderly Britons eking out their later years on meager pensions, and the Basques of Spain, at a time when any regional ethnicities in Spain were suppressed by the fascist Franco regime. The Fountain of Youth (Welles 1958) is suggestive of directions that Welles might have been able to pursue on the small screen, if circumstances had allowed. Jason 2000 gives an actor’s insight on working with Welles in this new medium.

      • Jason, Rick. Scrapbooks of My Mind: A Hollywood Autobiography. Sarasota, FL: Strange New Worlds, 2000.

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        The actor’s memoirs include a chapter devoted to his experience with Welles during the filming of The Fountain of Youth. The chapter (as well as Jason’s entire book) is available online.

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      • Welles, Orson. The Hearts of Age. 1934.

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        Short (eight-minute) experimental film made by Welles at Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois, while producing a summer theater festival. A spoof of surrealist “art” films, the scant story line involves an encounter between an old woman (Welles’s first wife, Virginia Nicholson) and Death (Welles). Has been packaged with some video versions of Citizen Kane and elsewhere.

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      • Welles, Orson. The Orson Welles Sketchbook. British Broadcasting Corporation. 1955.

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        A series of six fifteen-minute episodes produced in April and May 1955 for the BBC. Welles delivers monologues about episodes in his life and career, as well as other topics.

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      • Welles, Orson, dir. The Fountain of Youth. Hollywood, CA: Desilu, 1958.

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        A scientist (Dan Tobin) offers the woman he loves (Caroline Coates) and her lover (Rick Jason) an “eternal youth” elixir, but there is only enough for one. This television pilot episode won a Peabody Award for “one of the merriest, most irreverent half-hours of the year 1958.” Clips are on YouTube. The show itself is available at the Paley Centers for Media in New York and Los Angeles.

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      • Welles, Orson, dir. Around the World with Orson Welles. DVD. Chatsworth, CA: Image Entertainment, 1999.

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        A six-episode travelogue by Welles, following The Orson Welles Sketchbook. Welles takes travelers to see Jean Cocteau in Paris, the Basque regions of Spain, elderly pensioners of London’s Chelsea district, a bullfight in Madrid, and back to the Vienna of The Third Man. The Basque episodes are available on YouTube. The series is available on an all-regions DVD. Original release in 1955.

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      Performances under Other Directors

      When Welles came to Hollywood at the age of twenty-three he already was a seasoned theatrical and radio performer. Aside from his performances in his own motion pictures, Welles was sometimes a box office draw as an actor in several 1940s productions in Hollywood and elsewhere. He costarred in a prestigious production of Jane Eyre (1944) (see Stevenson 1994), but the most famous of his roles is as Harry Lime in Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949) (see Reed 2007). Welles did contribute some lines and advice to directors in at least some of these films, but there is often critical speculation that he had an even stronger role in directing scenes at times. Black Magic (1949) (see Ratoff 1980) features Welles as the Renaissance magician/conman Cagliostro, but it is likely that he directed some of the scenes rather than the credited director, Gregory Ratoff. Although many (including Welles sometimes) have contended that he should be credited as director for Journey into Fear (1943) (see Foster 2004), his most famous contribution in a film directed by someone else is the line uttered by his character Harry Lime to Joseph Cotten in The Third Man, about the Borgias, the Renaissance, the Swiss, and the cuckoo clock. Welles continued to act in films directed by other people throughout his life, often as a way to earn money to keep his own film projects afloat. In his later years, with his weight gain, Welles was usually relegated to supporting roles, often in inferior films. Even those can be of interest, however. For instance, Man in the Shadow (1957) (see Arnold 1998) not only led to Welles’s participation in Touch of Evil but also suggests the genesis of the character of Hank Quinlan and the theme of racism that Welles would develop in that later film. Welles’s lifelong familiarity with certain classic texts also informs his strong performances in Moby Dick (1956) (see Huston 2001), which he had adapted previously for the stage, and especially his starring role in the television production of King Lear (1953) (see Brook and McCullough 2010), a text he had worked with since coediting Everybody’s Shakespeare at the Todd School. Even at a time when Welles was cavalierly dismissed by many as a failure and has-been, his performances in Compulsion (1959) (see Fleischer 2008) and A Man for All Seasons (1966) (see Zinnemann 2008) could win accolades. This section lists films or television productions that feature some of his most significant screen appearances outside of his own movies.

      • Arnold, Jack, dir. Man in the Shadow. VHS. Universal City, CA: Universal Home Video, 1998.

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        Welles plays a racist rancher who comes into conflict with a new sheriff (Jeff Chandler). Welles’s rewrites of his character’s scenes led to his participation in Touch of Evil. Elements of Welles’s character and the themes of racism and the abuse of power also prefigure that later film. Originally released in 1957.

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      • Brook, Peter, and Andrew McCullough, dirs. King Lear: Omnibus. DVD. Port Washington, NY: E1 Entertainment, 2010.

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        A broadcast of the weekly CBS television arts series, Omnibus, hosted by Alistair Cooke. Welles’s performance in the title role earned good reviews from critics at the time, although Shakespeare’s play was heavily edited for time constraints.

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      • Fleischer, Richard, dir. Compulsion. DVD. Beverly Hills, CA: 20th Century Fox, 2008.

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        Based on the best seller, inspired by the infamous 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder trial. Welles plays Jonathan Wilk, modeled on defense attorney Clarence Darrow. Welles’s showpiece courtroom appeal against the death penalty helped to win a Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Welles’s monologue can be found online at YouTube.com.

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      • Foster, Norman, dir. Journey into Fear. DVD. RKO 21. Paris: Editions Montparnasse, 2004.

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        Produced by Welles in 1943, with a screenplay attributed to Joseph Cotten from a novel by Eric Ambler. Cotten plays an American armaments engineer in wartime Turkey who is embroiled in a spy plot and hunted by a Nazi agent. Welles plays a Turkish secret service officer, but it is often assumed that Welles played a large role in the direction of the film.

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      • Huston, John, dir. Moby Dick. DVD. Santa Monica, CA: MGM/UA Home Video, 2001

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        Welles has a brief but memorable role in this adaptation of Melville’s novel, playing Father Mapple, who delivers a sermon attended by Ishmael (Richard Basehart) before his journey with Captain Ahab (Gregory Peck) on the Pequod. Welles’s monologue can readily be found online. Originally released in 1956.

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      • Ratoff, Gregory, dir. Black Magic. VHS. Los Angeles, CA: Nostalgia Merchant, 1980.

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        Based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas, pere (who appears in the film’s opening scene). Welles plays the 18th-century magician, hypnotist, and swindler known as Cagliostro. The story begins with the transformation of a poor country boy into the influential mountebank and leads to a plot involving him with the French court and Marie Antoinette. Originally released in 1949.

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      • Reed, Carol, dir. The Third Man. DVD. Criterion Collection 64. Irvington, NY: Criterion Collection, 2007.

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        Welles’s most famous film role outside of his own movies, as Harry Lime, an American black marketeer. Despite Lime’s being revealed as a villain, Welles’s charismatic appeal led to a British radio series, The Lives of Harry Lime (1951–1952), in turn providing the genesis of Mr. Arkadin. The Criterion Collection DVD is the best available version of the film.

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      • Stevenson, Robert, dir. Jane Eyre. VHS. Collection Cinéma FNAC. Paris: Fox Vidéo, 1994.

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        Welles’s first film role for another studio, although he had a hand in adapting the script (coauthored by Stevenson, Aldous Huxley, and John Houseman) from Charlotte Brontë’s novel, as well as planning some of the shots. Welles plays the brooding Mr. Rochester, with whom Jane Eyre (Joan Fontaine) falls in love, only to discover his dark secret. Available on 2007 DVD from 20th Century Fox.

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      • Zinnemann, Fred. A Man for All Seasons. DVD. Culver City, CA: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2008.

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        Robert Bolt’s play about Sir Thomas More’s fatal confrontation with King Henry VIII over the king’s break with the Catholic Church. Welles plays Cardinal Wolsey, the king’s chancellor. Swept most of the major Oscar categories. Welles was not nominated but still received some of the best reviews of his later career. Welles’s scenes can be found online.

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      Works Written by Welles

      It can be difficult to attribute the full degree of authorship that Welles was actually responsible for in the screenplays of his finished or unfinished films or in his radio scripts. The issue is a bit less problematic when Welles was adapting existing material, notably his stage and film versions of Shakespeare. However, even the Mercury Shakespeare (Welles and Hill 1939–1941) (previously Everybody’s Shakespeare [1934]) went through various changes in its different editions, and some guesswork is required to sort out the actual editorial contributions by Welles and his collaborator, Roger Hill. Welles’s further alterations to Shakespeare, among other playwrights, can be found in France 2001. It is pretty clear that Moby-Dick Rehearsed (Welles 1965) and The Big Brass Ring (Welles 1987) are Welles’s own work, although the latter had significant input from Oja Kodar, the Croatian actress who was his companion and collaborator in his later years. The actual authorship of the two novels attributed to Welles (Welles 1956 and Welles 1953) is probably most dubious of all the works published under Welles’s name. Both books were probably authored by the French critic Maurice Bessy. Les Bravades (Welles 1996) offers a rare glimpse of a work composed only for a family member, Welles’s second daughter, Rebecca. See Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources) for a list of articles and essays written by Welles on politics, theater, and other topics. Further reference to such works and other occasional pieces can be found in other biographies and critical works about Welles. (See citations in Biographies and General Overviews.) Serious Welles scholars will need to consult the collections at Indiana University and elsewhere for material written by Welles that has not yet been discussed or documented.

      • France, Richard, ed. Orson Welles on Shakespeare: The W.P.A. and Mercury Theatre Playscripts. New York: Routledge, 2001.

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        A useful complement to Anderegg 1999 (cited under General Overviews). Provides the complete playscripts for Welles’s controversial stage productions in the 1930s of Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Five Kings (the reworking of several of Shakespeare’s history plays that would later form the narrative core of Chimes at Midnight). Originally published in 1990 (New York: Greenwood).

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      • Welles, Orson. Une grosse légume. Translated into French by Maurice Bessy. Paris: Gallimard, 1953.

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        Along with Mr. Arkadin, one of only two novels attributed to Welles. Also translated into French by Maurice Bessy, who might have been the actual author of both books. As with Mr. Arkadin, the plot was adapted from episodes of Welles’s radio series The Adventures of Harry Lime. The book has not been translated into English.

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      • Welles, Orson. Mr. Arkadin, a Novel. New York: Crowell, 1956.

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        Originally published in French. Translated from Welles’s film by Maurice Bessy and adapted from Welles’s radio series The Adventures of Harry Lime. For some details about the puzzling history of this book, see Robert Polito’s preface to the 2006 HarperCollins edition, included in the DVD boxed set from the Criterion Collection.

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      • Welles, Orson. Moby-Dick Rehearsed. New York: Samuel French, 1965.

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        Welles’s script for this play retells Melville’s story on a stage nearly bare of sets and props, as a 19th-century theater company attempts a rehearsal, with actors playing several roles from the novel. Welles supposedly shot some footage of an actual production of this play, but it has never been discovered. The play is still produced from time to time.

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      • Welles, Orson. The Big Brass Ring: An Original Screenplay. Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Teresa, 1987.

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        Unfilmed screenplay that failed to win financial support. Story involves a presidential candidate with a secret that could threaten his political career. Later adapted and filmed under the same title by director George Hickenlooper in 1999, with William Hurt and Nigel Hawthorne. This volume includes an informative afterword about the project’s history, by Jonathan Rosenbaum.

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      • Welles, Orson. The Cradle Will Rock: An Original Screenplay. Edited by James Pepper. Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Teresa, 1994.

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        Welles’s own re-creation of the events surrounding one of his most controversial theater productions, written not long before his death. Published in limited edition and may be difficult to find. Also see Robbins 2000 (cited under Portrayals).

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      • Welles, Orson. Les Bravades: A Portfolio of Pictures Made for Rebecca Welles by Her Father. New York: Workman, 1996.

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        A reproduction of a portfolio of colored drawings by Welles, made for his second daughter (with second wife, Rita Hayworth), Rebecca. The pictures are drawn from an annual religious festival in the French city of St. Tropez.

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      • Welles, Orson, and Roger Hill, eds. The Mercury Shakespeare, Edited for Reading and Arranged for Staging by Orson Welles and Roger Hill. 3 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939–1941.

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        Revised edition of Everybody’s Shakespeare. Hill, headmaster at Welles’s preparatory school, and Welles edited versions of Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, and Macbeth to create a popular introduction to Shakespeare for school use and general readers. Anderegg 1999 (cited under General Overviews) offers an informative discussion of this text and its relation to Welles’s career.

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      Theater, Radio, and Other Media

      Welles’s career began in the theater, and he remained active in the theater for much of his life, although he proclaimed that film had become his true lifelong obsession. Aside from a few essays and accounts in some biographies (especially Callow 1997, which is cited under Biographies), France 1977 offers the most complete study of Welles’s theatrical work in the 1930s. Newstok and Thompson 2010 gives special attention to Welles’s stage production of Macbeth with an African American cast. Although he had already won some fame for his theatrical work, Welles became a national celebrity with his 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, inspired by H. G. Wells’s science fiction novel. Presented by the Mercury Theatre on the Air, the episode was framed as a series of breaking news stories about a Martian invasion. Listeners tuning in to the show in progress were convinced that the invasion was real, and panic erupted in a number of communities. The broadcast has been a touchstone for many students of mass media and mass psychology ever since, beginning with Cantril 2005 (first published in 1940). See Koch 1971 for the radio script and an account of the broadcast by its author. Koch’s script is also printed in Gosling 2009. The actual broadcast and other radio works by Welles can be found in various recording formats. Orson Welles: The Ultimate Collection is one of the more complete sets. Heyer 2005 has the only book-length study so far of Welles’s radio career through the early 1950s. Heyer also takes account of Welles’s lifelong interest in magic. An amateur magician, Welles performed tricks onstage and on television throughout his life. For further study of this aspect of Welles, see Tonguette 2007 (cited under Memoirs by Others) and Whaley 2006 (cited under Biographies). Welles also made a number of voice recordings in his lifetime, ranging from readings from the Bible to the satire on Richard Nixon titled The Begatting of the President (1969), which are also listed in Wood 1990 (cited under Bibliographies and Other Resources), but the obsolescence of audiotapes and LP records may make it difficult to find these materials unless they have been transposed to compact discs, DVDs, or MP3 downloads.

      • Cantril, Hadley. The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2005.

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        Originally published in 1940, less than two years after Welles’s broadcast, Cantril’s work became a landmark in the study of the power of mass media.

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      • France, Richard. The Theatre of Orson Welles. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 1977.

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        Covers Welles’s Mercury Theatre productions, as well as some of his radio work, before the director left New York for Hollywood in 1940. Describes Welles’s adaptation of different texts and his staging of the plays. Though dated, this is still a good introduction and one of the few books to focus primarily on Welles’s theatrical work.

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      • Gosling, John. Waging the War of the Worlds: A History of the 1938 Radio Broadcast and Resulting Panic, Including the Original Script. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2009.

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        A detailed study of the broadcast, its aftermath, and the issues it raises about mass media. A good starting place for students and others interested in this one key episode in Welles’s career.

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      • Heyer, Richard. The Medium and the Magician: Orson Welles, the Radio Years, 1934–1952. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.

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        Mostly concerned with the Mercury Theatre on the Air and the Campbell Playhouse productions but also considers other work by Welles, such as his title role in the supernatural radio crime drama The Shadow. An important resource for those interested in the history of radio drama and its place in relation to Welles’s work in other media.

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      • Koch, Howard. The Panic Broadcast: Portrait of an Event. New York: Avon, 1971.

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        Includes the script for the infamous Mercury Theatre radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds. Koch—who would later become a successful screenwriter in Hollywood, only to be blacklisted during the Cold War—discusses his own contribution as writer to the broadcast and what the hysteria it induced revealed about the power of mass media.

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      • Newstok, Scott L., and Ayanna Thompson. Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

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        Examines the surprising ways in which Shakespeare’s play has interacted with concepts of racial and ethnic identity over the centuries. The third section deals specifically with stagings of the film just prior to and after the 1935 “voodoo” Macbeth staged by Welles and John Houseman.

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      • Welles, Orson. Orson Welles: The Ultimate Collection. MP3 downloads. BN Publishing, 2010.

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        Episodes from Campbell Playhouse, Mercury Theatre on the Air, and other productions. Includes productions of The Magnificent Ambersons, Heart of Darkness, The War of the Worlds, a 1937 multipart adaptation of Les Miserables, and a recording of the only meeting between Orson Welles and H. G. Wells. Available online as MP3 downloads from several sources, including Amazon. Episodes can be ordered and downloaded as a group or individually.

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      Portrayals

      Welles’s larger-than-life personality and his significance as an artist have precipitated references to him or his works in other people’s books, plays, films, and television shows. Citizen Kane has been cited or parodied many times in many media, ranging from the “Peanuts” comic strip to the television shows The Simpsons and The Sopranos. Lawrence Klaven’s mystery novel The Cutting Room (2005) centers on a detective’s quest to find the missing footage of The Magnificent Ambersons. Moreover, the character of Welles and the controversies that surrounded him have made him a major character in novels, plays, and films by others. “Orson Welles” (Vincent D’Onofrio), for example, appears in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994), based on the life of the director of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). In Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures (1994), the figure of Welles (Jean Guerin) as Harry Lime in The Third Man is a figure of attraction and fear for two young women who create a fantasy world for themselves, with fatal results. Among major film directors, Welles may be unique for the way in which his own persona (which shifted and adapted over time) became intertwined with his art. “Orson Welles” has become a kind of text in itself, a point that Welles actually elaborates on in F for Fake. This section lists some of the more notable films and plays that feature Welles himself as a major character. Sargent 1975 is a television production that makes Welles just one character in the national drama of the “Martian Invasion” broadcast of 1938. Robbins 2000 portrays Welles as a political artist, to his disadvantage, in contrast with Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Ross 2000 offers a fictionalized account of the making of Citizen Kane, again with a somewhat negative portrayal of Welles. Linklater 2010 is set during Welles’s stage production of Julius Caesar in New York and views the director from a young actor’s perspective. Welles has also been the subject of several plays, notably Pendleton 2005 and France 2011. Gretzinger 2010 is one of the few academic studies so far to focus on this aspect of Welles.

      • France, Richard. “Obediently Yours, Orson Welles.” In Hollywood Legends: “Live” on Stage. By Pam Gems, Richard France, and Jackie Skarvellis. London: Oberon, 2011.

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        Portrays Welles in his later years, waiting for a call from Steven Spielberg, who he hopes will help to fund Don Quixote. France’s introduction and the beginning of his play are also available at Wellesnet.

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      • Gretzinger, Matthew Christopher. “Staging Orson Welles.” PhD diss., Bowling Green State University, 2010.

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        The only full-length study of theatrical portrayals of Welles as a character. Concerned with “the ways we remember and stage Welles” and to “question the myths and ideologies those stagings act out” (p. ii). Includes discussion of Pendleton 2005 and others.

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      • Linklater, Richard, dir. Me and Orson Welles, 2009. DVD. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2010.

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        Based on Robert Kaplow’s 2008 novel, set during the Mercury Theatre’s production of Julius Caesar in 1937. A young actor (Zac Efron) is overwhelmed by Welles (Christian McKay) while falling in love with a young assistant (Clare Danes). Incorporates well-known anecdotes about the production and Welles. McKay may offer the most convincing portrayal of the young Welles so far.

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      • Pendleton, Austin. Orson’s Shadow: Acting Edition. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 2005.

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        Playscript that reimagines the time when Welles attempted to direct Sir Lawrence Olivier in Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist drama Rhinoceros, with advice from the British critic Kenneth Tynan. Pendleton, the author, is an actor and director himself. A 2003 compact disc recording of the play, directed by Rosalind Ayres, is available from LA Theatre Works.

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      • Robbins, Tim, dir. Cradle Will Rock. DVD. Burbank, CA: Touchstone Home Video, 2000.

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        The story of one of Welles’s most controversial theater productions. Marc Blitzstein’s radical working-class opera caused federal sponsors to cancel the project, but Welles and Houseman still staged it in an abandoned theater. Robbins and actor Angus MacFadyen portray Welles as a selfish egoist, contrasted with Mexican painter Diego Rivera (Rubén Blades), fighting his own artistic battle. A book tie-in for the film is also available.

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      • Ross, Benjamin, dir. RKO 281, 1999. DVD. New York: HBO Home Video, 2000.

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        A fictionalized account of the making of and controversies over Citizen Kane, loosely based on the PBS documentary The Battle over Citizen Kane. Welles is portrayed by Liev Schreiber.

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      • Sargent, Joseph, dir. The Night That Panicked America. Los Angeles: Paramount Television, 1975.

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        A reenactment of the 1938 Mercury Theatre on the Air production of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, told from several different vantage points. The radio production, aired as a breaking news story, convinced listeners who had just tuned in that a Martian invasion was actually occurring. Welles is played by Paul Shenar. Not currently available on DVD.

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      LAST MODIFIED: 12/19/2012

      DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791286-0121

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