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Fade to Black
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
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"Fade To Black"
(Ealing Studios, 2006)
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In this diverting historical fiction thriller, Danny Huston stars as actor/director Orson Welles, down-and-out in Italy after World War Two as his career has hit the skids and his divorce from actress Rita Hayworth has made him a target of international scorn. On the set of a low-budget Italian film (a fictionalized version of the real-life "Black Magic") Welles runs afoul of a murder mystery that encompasses the convoluted politics of the recently-liberated Italian nation.

I found this film to be entertaining and mostly charming; it was not particularly surprising where the story went or how it played out, but it was still a nice change of pace from the usual Hollywood fare, with an aura of Euro-intellectualism about it. To the filmmakers' credit, although they clearly draw on the film noir tradition (and "The Third Man," in particular), they don't try to simply mimic Welles' own work, or to match its intensity. Huston is a plausible and pleasant Welles, perhaps more robust and less savvy than one might imagine, but fun to watch nonetheless. If you like thrillers, but want a little change of pace and a dollop of politics and history, give this one a shot. Not a classic, by any means, but a fun movie. (Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film reviews)
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 6, 2011
Orson Welles (1915-85) created some of the very best theatre, radio, and films in history, and is credited by almost everyone for making the #1 film of all time - "Citizen Kane" (1941). But someone along the line, early on, he started having problems with producers and studios, left projects unfinished, went over budget, and a whole host of problems that ultimately resulted in fewer and fewer films of lesser and lesser quality. With the failure of "The Lady from Shanghai" (1947) and "Macbeth" (1948), Welles' career in the US was virtually finished, and he went to Europe where he was still held in high regard, but was relegated to making low budget films and appearing as an actor to finance his various projects.

The film takes place in 1948 at the second post WW 2 election in Italy as the Christian Democrats are maneuvering to win after having broken with their partners, the Communist and Socialist parties. In the film, Orson Welles comes to Rome to make "Black Magic" (1949) and gets involved in murder and political intrigue centering on the election.

FWIW - The Christian Democrats won 48.5% and took control until 1994.

Danny Huston (1962) plays Orson Welles. Huston is the son of actor/director John Huston. He's made a few dozen films the most notable of which are Poseidon in "Clash of the Titans" (2010), the young Stryker in "X-Men Origins" (2009), and Samuel Adams in the TV series of the same name (2008).

Unfortunately Huston bears little if any resemblance to Welles, so he has to rely on his considerable skills in mimicry. They serve him well, but it is nowhere as effective as Christian McKay was as Welles in "Me and Orson Welles" (2009).

Christopher Walken (1963) plays an American agent in Rome and an old friend of Welles. Walken, of course, is one of the finest actors ever, received two Oscar nominations ("Catch Me if you Can", "The Deer Hunter") and won for "The Deer Hunter" (1978). He can play comedy (Hairspray", "Wedding Crashers"), gangsters ("Suicide Kings", "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead"), drama ("Man on Fire") etc. His dancing and singing skills are considerable and he tries to weave them into most of his films.

Unfortunately this film is more like one of Welles' B films than his A list films, and in reality it is more of a B whodunit rather than a film that deals with Orson Welles particularly. IOW - the protagonist could be anyone. The plot is a little convoluted, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the acting is so bland (apart from Huston) that it's hard to get involved with the story. Which is, of course, one of the striking characteristics of many of Welles' B films.

Bottom line - a mediocre whodunit with some amusing looks at Orson Welles' lifestyle circa 1948.
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on July 27, 2015
I suppose only fans f Orson Welles would be interested in this film. If you are a fan, I recommend it. The screenwriter is quite knowledgeable about Welles' time in Italy before he started filming Othello, and Danny Huston really does a great impression of Welles even though he doesn't resemble Welles all that much. I liked this film a lot more than I did Orson and Me.
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on June 16, 2015
The movie was charming, but it takes quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to pretend that a Mexican actor with a Spanish accent is supposed to be an Italian guy.
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on February 10, 2014
Nice cast and a great story line with a little bit of Christopher, It dives in to deep post war in Italy with spy's, affiliations and how the world works.
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on July 2, 2014
Very good movie - had never heard of it but love mysteries and this certainly fits the bill.
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on February 9, 2015
Not the one I thought it was. This is a newer version and not at all similar in content.
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