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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: #663,052 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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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only a hint of what Welles was capable of March 23, 2005
Following Orson Welles' fascinating yet tantalizing career can be frustrating for the aficionado. So much of his oeuvre remains hidden from view that each discovery from the archives is greeted with an inordinate amount of enthusiasm. Take this intriguing yet relatively disappointing collection of documentaries Welles directed for British TV in the 1950s.

"The missing link in Welles' work," exults the snapcase boilerplate. This is a bit of an overstatement, given that far more significant works haven't seen the light of day ("Don Quixote" and "The Other Side of the Wind," to name a couple). The documentaries do help to fill the gap in Welles' output for the 1950s, a decade in which he directed only three feature films. "Around the World" is a good quality DVD and unquestionably the work of Welles, but a ultimately a shadow of what he was capable of.

The five episodes on this DVD explore various aspects of European Culture. Welles takes his camera in search of Basque country, Spanish bullfights, the idiosyncratic denizens of Paris' St Germain des Pres, and the loquacious and venerable Chelsea Pensioners. The "St Germain des Pres" episode best typifies the offbeat subject matter. Welles spends most of his time interviewing a commune dweller who makes his own clothes. After that, Welles dashes through the town, capturing glimpses of celebrities like Jean Cocteau and Eddie Constantine ("Lemmy Caution"), before discovering a group of "Letterists" who are dedicated to (you guessed it) inventing new letters.

Unfortunately, Welles' typically low budget and the nature of the subject matter limit his range of cinematic expression.
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