FareWelles Orson!


Dear fellow Flynn fans,

this week marks thirty years since the passing of Flynntimo Orson Welles.

The Whizkid started out as child prodigy, being fed a daily diet of Shakespeare sonnets and piano lessons by his mother, a concert pianist, at the tender age of five.

At age 15 he had lost both his parents and his inner world gravitated around stage and radio performances.

In 1938 one day prior to Halloween his “War of the Worlds” broadcast about aliens invading Earth sent North America into a frenzy.

The Traumfabrik welcomed him with open arms and cheque books, and he instantly delivered the goods with one of most innovative and acclaimed films of all times- Citizen Kane. He produced, directed and starred in the mockery of the omnipotency of media mogul William Randolph Hearst.

He stated to have “started at the top and worked his way downwards”.

It cost him dearly, since from then on Hollywood studios became hesitant to his free floating ideas and more than once exacted a self censorship that was incompatible with Welles`artistic aspirations. Another masterpiece “The magnificent Ambersons” was cut (rather castrated) by one third in lenght.

Despite his stocky stature he was a ladies`man dating Dolores Del Rio and later marrying Rita Hayworth.

Before being palsy with Errol, Orson Welles had a run- in at a restaurant with Guinn “Big Boy” Williams from the Flynntourage. But only his tie not his ego suffered  in the process. Calling out the Texan earned him the respect of our Hollywood hero.

He rented Errol`s yacht, “the Zaca”, for his psychanalytical thriller noir “the Lady from Shanghai”. He also had his leading lady Rita Welles cut her hair short and dye it blond. They divorced shortly after the conclusion of the film.

Many themes revolve around the dark side of the human soul. His first film project “Heart of Darkness” was rejected , he made up with “Touch of Evil”and “Mr. Arkadin”.

Another eternal movie gem is “The third Man”, set in the sewers of post war Vienna starring the big man and his favourite companion Joseph Cotton.

Orson Welles will be remembered for his Shakespearean appearances as Othello, Macbeth and Falstaff. A modern day version of “Julius Cesar” was planned, but did not materialize, his take on “The merchant of Venice” is said to be lost.

Errol announced Orson as King Farouk in his first independant production in Europe. When Egypt ousted the last Pharaoh in 1953, his story was history and was substituted with “The Story of William Tell”. Welles was still considered for the role of bad guy Landvogt Gessler.

This was not to be. But also Orson had his share of unfinished film business. For decades Welles filmed bits and pieces here and there of Cervantes` “Don Quixote de la Mancha”. He claimed that he accepted many film roles only to raise money for the completion of this monumental task.

Coming to think of it, a pairing of Errol Flynn as knight of rueful contenance and Orson Welles donning the pants of Sancho Pansa could have been a movie moment for the ages.

The two together would appear finally in John Huston`s “The roots of heaven”. By the way, Orson Welles and John Huston were very much alike and got along great.

Their film “The other side of the Wind” about an aging film director with Welles behind the lense and Huston in front is about to be finished and will premiere in the near future.

Just in time, since the flamboyant filmmaker, magic actor and overall vaudevillian visionary would also have turned 100 this year.



— shangheinz

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