Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios
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Revealing the facts rather than the myths behind Orson Welles' Hollywood career, this groundbreaking history analyzes the career of one of the most well-known American filmmakers. Exploring why Welles' films never matched his youthful masterpiece Citizen Kane, this investigation delves into the enemies that hounded him, his unwaning faith in his audience, and the brilliance of his films—before they were butchered by the studios.
Based on shooting scripts, schedules, internal memos, interviews, articles, lectures, and personal correspondence, this work creates a concrete picture of his professional and artistic struggles and successes.
This heartbreaking tale brings to life the intelligent, perceptive, and passionate man who, for all his failings as a person, was utterly uncompromising in his art.
with nothing but darkness around her.” At this point we return to New York harbor. Marlow is musing about whether he should have told her the truth. The night closes in and the credits roll. Even Conrad might have been impressed. 01 (001-038) chapter 01 28 11/2/04 5:39 PM Page 28 ACT ONE: FAITH Where Welles was fully released from any textual reverence, selfimposed or otherwise, was in the prologue, through which he aimed to both introduce himself and lead the audience by its metaphorical
this, Bob. I have other things to do’” (the April 18 cable refutes such a claim). The wanton curtailing of the ballroom scene in the released version is the most damning evidence that the (re)editing of the film by Robert Wise, at the behest of the studio, was not—as Wise has consistently argued—conducted with due care and diligence, but was an almost random assault on the film’s sense and sensibility, designed to get it down to that all-important eighty-eight minutes, and damn any deleterious
out! As he slams the gate we see his face. The big Indian eyes are suddenly full of tears. Such a shout goes up as never was heard before, even in the Plaza de Toros of Mexico City. Leaving aside the elements of “Carnaval in Rio” and “Bonito,” the September script mostly comprises a series of amusing links— which Welles presumably envisaged filming in a studio setting— along with a general description of the other elements necessary to bind the film together. These appear to have been largely
means to an end, he tears “pages from it, [and] runs in a wide arc, establishing a new trail to carry the chase away from Meinike’s body. Out of breath, he returns to stand guard. His eyes watch the chase 06 (173-198) chapter 06 184 11/2/04 5:44 PM Page 184 ACT TWO: HOPE as it branches off to follow the new trail. The boys disappear in the distance. Rankin looks down at Meinike’s lifeless body and begins to kick leaves over it. He dry washes his hands.” No blood guilt here. All he feels
bear the signature . . . of this dominant personality: . . . Selznick, Zanuck, Thalberg, Guitry, Von Sternberg, Von Stroheim, Vidor, Capra, Ford, Menzies, Sturges, Chaplin, Sol Wurtzel. . . . This dominant personality is the essential of style in the motion picture art. When it is absent, a motion picture is a mere fabrication of the products of various studio departments from 01 (001-038) chapter 01 14 11/2/04 5:39 PM Page 14 ACT ONE: FAITH the set builder to the manufacturer of