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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 030680834X, Paperback)In 1992, the first publication of This Is Orson Welles brought a priceless document to light. In the late '60s and early '70s, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich had conducted extensive interviews with Welles, but a number of circumstances--including the director's decision to compose an autobiography that he never got around to writing--kept the interviews out of the public eye. Edited and annotated by Jonathan Rosenbaum, these conversations give wonderful insights into Welles's craft and personality. He discusses his forays into acting, producing, and writing as well as directing, his confidences and insecurities, and his plans for film projects that were either never made or only partially completed. He also offers insights into the triumph of Citizen Kane and later masterpieces like The Lady from Shanghai, Touch of Evil, Othello, and Chimes at Midnight. His defense of his controversial adaptation of Kafka's The Trial is so fascinating that readers might want to rush out and rent the film.
While the book is worth owning just for this 322-page interview, it is also full of other material that is equally revealing. Rosenbaum presents a meticulous chronology of Welles's life, closely following his day-to-day activities from his birth in 1915 to his death in 1985. Anyone who thinks that Welles was an essentially lazy and profligate artist will be astonished at how hard he worked and how much he accomplished, even after the completion of Citizen Kane. Another treat found in the book is a detailed description--complete with rare photographic stills--of the original Magnificent Ambersons, Welles's impressive follow-up to Kane, which can now be seen only in a tragically truncated version.
This 1998 reissue of the volume contains a fond new introduction by Bogdanovich and another crucial piece of Welles minutia, excerpts from his 58-page memo to Universal Pictures about the editing of Touch of Evil. Forty years after its composition, the material in this memo has been used to create a restored "director's cut" of the film. With such grand material between two covers, This Is Orson Welles is the most informative and entertaining book available on one of the 20th century's greatest artists. --Raphael Shargel
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:02 -0400)
Film and theatre director-innovator, radio producer, actor, writer, painter, narrator, and magician, Orson Welles was the last true Renaissance man of the twentieth century. From such great work in radio as the epoch-making "War of the Worlds" and the famous voice of "The Shadow knows!" to his cinematic masterpieces Citizen Kane, Othello, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil, and the wonderful but still unreleased The Other Side of the Wind, Welles was a central. Figure in the art of our time. With This Is Orson Welles, though, we get to meet the Welles we wish we'd always known ourselves - the world's master storyteller. A collection of penetrating, fascinating, witty, and wild conversations between Welles and acclaimed director Peter Bogdanovich, spanning nearly ten years and eight cities around the world, This Is Orson Welles is filled with Orson's signature joie de vivre, and it reveals the great man's own thoughts on his. Work in radio, theatre, film, and television; his comments on Hollywood and Broadway producers, directors, and stars; and his wonderful views of life: the difference between feline and canine people; why men like magic shows and women don't; why actors are the third sex. This is the book that Welles ultimately considered his autobiography, but it's a memoir like no other. Epic in scope, but always as magnificently engaging as Welles himself was in real life, This Is. Orson Welles will leave you agreeing with Marlene Dietrich, who also said (using Welles' words from Touch of Evil): "He was some kind of man. What does it matter what you say about people?"
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