The Lost Films of Orson Welles
February 14, 2008 3:53 PM   Subscribe

::Call me Ishmael::Don Quixote::A Lesson for all Actors::Father Mapple's Sermon::The Lost Films of Orson Welles::

The Lost Films of Orson Welles. Also known as Orson Welles : The One-Man Band. A film feauring Ojar Kodar and the unrealised film projects of Orson Welles. Features excerpts from "The Other Side of the Wind".

posted by vronsky (23 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:01 PM on February 14, 2008

This comes on the F for Fake criterion DVD. Totally worth it. Welles was a fascinating character.
posted by carsonb at 4:07 PM on February 14, 2008

posted by The Bellman at 4:08 PM on February 14, 2008

I loved the sermon, it's just great. A fabulous set (I don't remember the bowsprit described in the novel, but perhaps it was) and a great performance.

The Call me Ishmael link was disappointing. I love Welles, and that's my favorite first page of any novel, but I didn't like his reading. I found the stresses to be off, and I was really distracted watching him read the teleprompter.

Great post.

See also this older post. The link is taking forever to load for me, so I don't know if it's broken or good.
posted by OmieWise at 4:11 PM on February 14, 2008

And not technically a "lost" film Omie, but I threw it in because it is just so damn good. The Quixote clip is genius pure and simple.
posted by vronsky at 4:19 PM on February 14, 2008

The Hearts of Age

Welle's first film, age 18. (turn down the annoying soundtrack)
posted by vronsky at 4:26 PM on February 14, 2008

Delightful find.
Welles is one of my heroes, and you truly made me a happy man today, vronsky.
posted by Dizzy at 4:33 PM on February 14, 2008

OmieWise, I completely agree. Also, I think that the pacing was kind of slow. I always took the beginning to be less pensive (as Welles plays it) and more of a straight ahead narrative.
posted by horsemuth at 5:14 PM on February 14, 2008

The Ishmael link works for me. Less of a performance, more of a reading. The weird color artifacts and film breaks add to it in my opinion. "The image of the ungraspable .. the phantom of life (fantasma della vita).. and that is the key to it all". Who else could deliver those lines so perfectly? (though if he were wearing an eye-patch with a splash of yellow over his left shoulder it would make it perfect for me:)

more on the Mapple speech --

In Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles, David Thompson writes:

Welles did his own text, and then, when gently pressed, he did Huston's. It is magnificent, thunderous and as incantatory as Melville's prose. No actor could kill or waste the speech - but only someone of Welles's grandeur could do it justice. Here is proof that on the grand scale of voice, physique and imaginative reach he was a noble actor - a stage actor, someone to fill a large hall. Yet there is more. As Mapple pursues the Jonah story to its end, and Jonah speaks to God, Huston used the close-up to cover Welles's heartrending "For what is man that he should outlive the lifetime of his God? Suddenly, we see an old man, or one alert to mortality. The last line is nearly a whisper; it was the most delicate thing Welles had done in forty years. Always uneasy with youth, he had some intimation of the grave, solitary splendor of old age. It is there in his Mapple. The crew gave him an ovation when he had finished. Huston chuckled at his own acute enterprise, and Welles bellowed with relief. If he had never done anything else, you would say, "Good God, what was that?"
posted by vronsky at 5:36 PM on February 14, 2008

Gotta say I'm absolutely delighted that we're discussing some of W's acting/vocal choices, and also thrilled that not everyone immediately genuflects--- this crazy genius DID make MANY aesthetic mistakes.
Agree with most above regarding his pacing at the outset of "Ishmael"--- he's listening to the majesty of his own instrument instead of truly telling us a story. Sometimes artists get seduced by their own noises--- dishonesty follows.
What a fellow!
posted by Dizzy at 5:46 PM on February 14, 2008

I like Orson Wells a lot, and the Don Quixote clip is very interesting.

I think the Moby-Dick clips suffer most from the severe editing of the text. The very abbreviated "Call Me Ishmael", for example, does not have the dreamy narrative quality I had always read into the opening. (Like OmniWise, this is one of my favorite opening passages in any book.) But I have this issue with all filmed versions of Moby-Dick. Melville's genius is in the details (and the book is in large part about the whaling industry), yet the films by necessity must reduce it to a strange man's adventures on the high seas.
posted by metric space at 6:02 PM on February 14, 2008

I notice that Wells's Othello is on YouTube as well.
posted by washburn at 6:16 PM on February 14, 2008

someone please find f is for fake online for me, thanks.
posted by empath at 6:16 PM on February 14, 2008

I just realized that Pinky from Pinky and the Brain sounds like Orson Wells.

Maybe he never really died and he's hanging out with Elvis doing voice work on the side, because playing Unicron was such a turning point in his career.
posted by XMLicious at 6:58 PM on February 14, 2008

XMLicious, you mean The Brain. And how much he sounds like Orson Welles.

They actually played up the similarities in a couple of episodes, including one directly parodying the infamous 'Welles gets angry at his voiceover directions while reading a commercial for peas' clip. The voice of the Brain, Maurice LaMarche, also dubbed over Vincent D'Onofrio as Orson Welles in Tim Burton's Ed Wood.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:33 PM on February 14, 2008

Full of country goodness and green pea-ness.
posted by papakwanz at 9:18 PM on February 14, 2008

Oops, you're correct, The Brain. Interesting anecdotes, sleeping bear.
posted by XMLicious at 11:20 PM on February 14, 2008

posted by The Salaryman at 3:53 AM on February 15, 2008

The whole thing is up on Google Video.

Further reading: Simon Callow's excellent biography on Welles: The Road to Xanadu and Hello Americans.
posted by zerolives at 4:22 AM on February 15, 2008

Additionally, the last I heard was that The Other Side of the Wind was supposed to be released in 2008.
posted by zerolives at 4:27 AM on February 15, 2008

That Don Quixote clip is fabulous. I can't wait to watch the documentary tonight.
posted by OmieWise at 7:55 AM on February 15, 2008

Certainly not a lost film, but worth a look if you've never seen it: the playful original trailer for Citizen Kane.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:08 PM on February 15, 2008

Also, the striking opening sequence from Welles's version of Kafka's The Trial: Before the Law.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:15 PM on February 15, 2008

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