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Orson Welles (Haus Publishing - Life &Times) Paperback – May 31, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Ben Walter's excellent Orson Welles is a tightly written biography filled with intelligent insight and salient quotes.' -- Beatrice Colin The Scotsman

About the Author

Ben Walters is the author of the BFI TV Classic on The Office. He writes on film, television and radio for Sight and Sound magazine and other publications.
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Product Details

  • Series: Haus Publishing - Life &Times
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Haus Publishing (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904341802
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904341802
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,054,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is a marvelously readable, witty and electrifying account of the phenomenon of Orson Welles. Concise at 146 pages of text (an additional 32 pages of notes, refs and biblio follow) every sentence illuminates OW's blazing imagination, ferocious egotism and his gambler's confidence --- "I was a baby jumping onto a trapeze". Everything was changed a thousand times before being presented to the world (or sometimes entirely improvised with key decisions being made during the live performance by an all-commanding Welles). As John Houseman recalled, while the semi-formless show unfolded, Welles was wrestling with the churning monster and bringing it closer to his vision. Everyone was just along for the ride. Waters writes: "The Mercury Theatre company spent three weeks developing TREASURE ISLAND as the inaugural show [for the CBS radio series] but a couple of days before the (1938) transmission date, Orson changed it to DRACULA . . . and achieved another seat-of-his-pants success". Houseman recalls: "Sweating, howling, dishevelled and singlehanded he wrestled with chaos and time."

The superb organization of the book uses each and every sentence to illuminate the total Welles profile of genius, thrills and excitement. Witty, too --- with frequent laugh-out-loud lines carrying along this rich saga. Carefully chosen, rare photos perfectly amplify the text and enrich the mad, rollicking pace of the Welles comet. An additional 32 pages of , incisive comments and bibliography round out the book.

My advice for super enrichment: read the first 32 pages and then watch the galvanizing 2009 recreation of the 1937 Mercury Theatre opening
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Format: Paperback
A slim little book, my first purchase in the sleek, glossy Life&Times biography series from Britain that just began showing up in my local Half Price Books stores. I have always been intrigued by his acting and directing in "Citizen Kane" and "Touch of Evil"; and, for his straight acting, he acts several scenes in the brilliant movie "The Third Man" with just facial expressions, putting more into a smirk than entire pages of dialogue done by lesser actors. Then there is just the idea of a tortured genius ringed in by the system, the brilliant boy wonder forced to live up to his own myth, and the guy amazing enough to bag Rita Hayworth. This all said, most biographies I've leafed through at libraries suffer from many faults, and the one great biography, it seems, the multi-volume and incomplete magnum opus of Simon Callow is, as a first course, too much and undone. Thus, this volume. It offers a complete overview of his life and works, offering some insights. There are things I'd like to know more about, like Hayworth, or specific intent behind shots and narratives in his films, etc. This book, however, is a well-written introduction to Welles, not a detailed narrative.
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