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Around the World with Orson Welles [VHS] (1955)

Orson Welles  |  NR |  VHS Tape
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Orson Welles
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • VHS Release Date: March 14, 2000
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305774552
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #677,448 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Around the World with Orson Welles does not loom large in the director's legend. It is an obscure 1955 British television series he directed and in which he appeared. But its video release is an engaging detour, a rediscovered missing link in Welles's estimable filmography.

Each of the five episodes contained on this video is in part home movie, travelogue, and cinematic essay. Welles is a traveler and not a tourist. Don't expect visits to the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or other well-trodden attractions. Instead, he guides us into the heart of a country, it's culture and people, from Paris's sidewalk cafes (where actor Eddie Constantine winks at the camera) to a Spanish bull ranch.

Wherever Welles travels, viewers will gladly follow, if only to relish his love of language and to hear the rich music of his voice consider such phrases as "a pride of lions" and "a rumination of cows." His digressions, among them "a word for old-fashioned travel... that takes long enough to give you the chance to see where you're going before you get there," are alone worth the trip. He is an ingratiating interviewer and the locals he engages in conversation are not the least bit intimidated by his commanding presence. In London, he is briefly heckled outside a pub.

One programming advisory: two episodes visit Basque country. The second repeats content from the first. Fast forward through the bit about the "perfectly illegal and harmonious collaboration" to capture pigeons for delightful encounters between Welles and Basque children. --Donald Liebenson

Product Description

Five documentaries made for British television by Orson Welles. The renowned Welles, who directed this television series, lends his inimitable style to this tour through Europe. In Paris, Welles introduces us to famed artists Juliette Greco and Jean Cocteau, who lived in the St. Germain Des Pres quarter. In London we meet the Chelsea pensioners; in Spain we attend a Madrid bullfight and visit the Basque country. Somewhere between a home movie and a cinematic essay, these short films have been described by French critics as the missing link in Welles' work.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The missing part... August 19, 2000
"Around the world with Orson Welles", is great material for film buffs! Welles is directing himself, with usual flamboyance and visual flair. It does, though, seem somewhat overprized, especially considering that one of the six shorts is lacking! The back cover claims that "the last episode (Third Man Returns to Vienna) has been lost". This is not true. I taped it from the German television station ZDF some years ago, in excellent condition (better sound/picture quality than the materials on the DVD, sadly.) There it had the title: "Viva Italia". Apart from the misinformation and incompleteness of the release, it's especially sad for Welles fans because the Vienna episode is probably the best and most interesting of his semi-documentaries! Returning to the Harry Lime persona is just one of the highlights.. I still recommend the DVD though; thes travelogues are great fun!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Viva Italia August 23, 2000
A small retraction: the Orson Welles documentary "Viva Italia" is NOT "Third Man Returns to Vienna", but another great episode! It centers on Italy by telling the story of Gina Lollobrigida, also presenting a.o. Vittorio De Sica, whose great actor/director skills is implicitly used as a Welles parallel. It's a dynamic and truly wonderful episode, and should have been on the disc. The Image disc is still overprized, with it's sadly sloppy transfer and sparse presentation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Semi-Engaging Bluff March 11, 2007
Okay, "the French" think this is the "missing link" of Welles filmography. Now just think about that . . . who are these "French," and who supposedly speaks for them? The flummery evaporates upon even semi-serious attention, making one wonder whether master film maker (and open con artist) Orson was behind the crack, as the sort of exercise in self-promotion of which he was so capable.

Actually, Welles the man is very unusually engaging in these old TV shorts. The first two are the best, and after that you can slowly watch his engagement dwindle. That's the way it is with geniuses, they need to be challenged. Orson was always fascinated by TV, wrestling with it for years until his memorable "F for Fake" got fully engaged with both the stylistic and substantive new dimensions of fakery permitted and encouraged by the medium. These old Brit TV travel pieces were an opening shot, sure. But they are no more the "missing link" than was Piltdown Man (a cosmic con that Orson may well have regetted missing), or, for that matter, poor dying Citizen Kane's "Rosebud."

In episode one Orson introduces us to an old, eccentric American artist in Paris. Its a lovely, kind portrait, and one gets a feel of real time travel with roots back in the Paris heydey, for Americans, of the 1920s. There are also a couple classic Wellesian vistas of Paris, of such a touching beauty that only Orson could have shot them. They are too brief.

Then a piece on wonderful old Brit pensioners, some widows and soldiers he really hits it off with. The human dimension here, and the seriousness of Orson listening to these old folk make this quite special, and a fine short documentary in itself.

Now you expect the bullfight piece to be the best.
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