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Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts Paperback – April 30, 2013

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Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts + Orson Welles in Italy + My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: BearManor Media (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159393260X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593932602
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #988,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


The reminiscences of school days, long-departed friends, and early, naïvely audacious adventures conjure a scaled-down Welles, whose cracker-barrel warmth reminds us that his mighty creations have a core of nostalgic yearning for an unforgotten modesty that lay forever just out of reach. (After all, Rosebud.).  The anchored and sentimental protagonist of Tarbox's book brings an important new facet to our view of Orson Welles, one of the two greatest characters in the history of cinema.
--Richard Brody, The New Yorker

What is so moving is that, for the first time, I felt I was hearing the true, unadulterated voice of Orson Welles. Theirs was a relationship of lifelong love, amity and mutual respect, and coursing through their talks is a quality of friendship and generosity of spirit rare in this life. As the conversations move inexorably toward the end--on the night before he is to die, Welles tells Hill, "I'm feeling very mortal these days"--one feels the curtain slowly coming down on a profoundly felt comedy-drama one wishes had several more acts to go.
--Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

In 1926, the 11-year-old Welles entered the Todd School for Boys, an independent boarding school in Woodstock. One of his teachers there was Roger Hill, and a better student-teacher match may not have been made since Plato met Socrates.  Todd Tarbox, Roger Hill's grandson and the author of a compelling and captivating new book, "Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts," is cleverly, inventively constructed in the form of a three-act play of candid conversations adapted from the many letters and tape-recorded conversations between Welles and Hill.
--Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune

A remarkable glimpse into cultural history.  Welles and Hill were individuals of considerable intellect and culture. They belonged to a generation steeped in the classics of Western literature.  Lines from Shakespeare, Poe, Ben Jonson and others form an organic element of their conversations.  It is a moving moment when Hill recites Christ's entire "Sermon on the Mount" from memory.  Todd Tarbox's book is a genuine contribution to our understanding of a critical historical period and two remarkable personalities.
--David Walsh, WSWS

What I take away most is the love of learning that the Todd School fired in Welles, who was already well-traveled and something of an autodidact. He also treasured the fellowship of his schoolmates and the opportunity to spread his wings in all forms of arts and letters. (Wait till you see his prose and pictures for the official school pamphlet.)  Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts doesn't take long to read, in part because it's hard to put down. How lucky we are that Todd Tarbox has allowed us to eavesdrop on two such extraordinary men.
--Leonard Maltin

Customer Reviews

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I know I will thorougly enjoy the book!
D. Fiske
Mr. Tarbox has provided us an enduring and heart warming glimpse of a wonderful and unique relationship that was mutually beneficial.
Michael Dawson
I loved reading Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mathias b. freese on June 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Todd Tarbox, grandson of Roger Hill, headmaster of the famous Todd School for Boys, Woodstock, Illinois, along the progressive approach of A.S. Neill's Summerhill, and the son of Hascy Tarbox, younger classmate and perhaps rival to Orson Welles contacted me after seeing some reference to Welles by me. Over the years, hear and there, I have written about Welles and Citizen Kane. I devote one chapter in my recent book to Welles. And what is that attraction?

I am appalled by what this culture, other cultures, do to the artist. The average Joe may or may not be emotionally impoverished; however, the real artist is never poor. That is a line from Babette's Feast. Throughout his career critics faulted Welles for his incomplete and unfinished films. I ask you: what human being is not a mess of unfinished business when he comes to die? Why this envy of Welles and the need to tear him down. The appealing aspect for me is how Welles fought this off all his life and elements of that resistance are in this book.

Of course, Tarbox's book is the kind of book we cinephiles read while chewing Jujyfruits; it is absorbing, illuminative, informative, often provocative and with all the minutiae that fans want to know about Welles's life, this man with an IQ of 185. So I read it straight through the night; it was not an analysis of the relationship between Roger Hill, the mentor, and Welles, the mentored; it was beyond that. What we have here is a delicious artifact, tapes that Hill-Welles kept of their conversations over the years, knowing full well that each was an important part of the other's history. They both had a mastery of Shakespeare and often one would begin a quotation from the Bard only to have the other complete it; both their memories are astonishing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Kenny on August 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am grateful to the critic and scholar Jonathan Rosenbaum for a good many reasons, and most recently I find that I owe him for steering me in the direction of this splendid book, a far less hyped correlative and corrective to the Henry Jaglom/Peter Biskind offering My Lunches With Orson.

The eleven-year-old Welles was enrolled at the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois in 1926. Roger Hill, twenty years Welles' senior, was an instructor there; he later inherited the position of headmaster, which had been that of his father, Noble Hill. Roger Hill was one of Welles' earliest mentors and a lifelong friend and supporter, and, according to the introduction to this book by Tarbox, a grandson of Hill's, Hill and Welles began recording their phone and in-person conversations in the early '80s in the hopes that the tapes would aid in their respective memoirs. The first recording in the Tarbox book is from November 25, 1982; the final one is from October 9, 1985, the evening before Welles' death. This is the same period in which the conversations that make up My Lunches With Orson were recorded. But while there is a certain amount of crossover, there is absolutely no redundancy here. While I'm not going to address the controversy concerning whether or not Jaglom is entirely truthful when he says his conversations with Welles had been recorded with Welles' prior consent, the Welles in My Lunches, sometimes truculent, spiteful, perverse, given to venting resentments, etc., is a particular kind of private Welles who coexists with an Orson who is very aware of the fact that he is giving a performance for a younger admirer. Is the Welles in the Hill conversations on his best behavior because he clearly knows that these conversations are in some sense intended for posterity?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jimbo on July 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Have you ever been friends with someone whose intelligence daunted everyone but you?

In his book , [ASIN:159393260X Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts]], Todd Tarbox eavesdrops upon the conversations of two gifted pedants, one a famous film artist and the other an unknown educator. The film star, Orson Welles, had one of the highest IQs ever recorded, yet the educator, Roger Hill, a storehouse of learned experience, was every bit a match. The duel of wits portrayed in Friendship is scintillating, occasionally leaving the reader breathless. The scope of knowledge on display would challenge scholars in a range of disciplines. It is almost inconceivable in this era of superficial social networking that two people chatting on the telephone could expound on art, history, mores and show biz personalities with beautifully crafted sentences and precise English usage. As proof that civilized people once strove to express themselves clearly, Friendship is an archival document.

Of course, anyone who loves historical gossip will savor the intimate contemporary revelations from Orson Welles--a store of Hollywood lore well worth the price of admission. More personally, for those souls who recall a special friend whose wide-ranging expertise provided hours of mental sparring, this book will resonate. In my case, I identified with Roger Hill as the wise old ear while Orson Welles echoed a youthful confidant who dazzled me with his ideas and allusions. Yet, our respect was mutual and our relationship one of equals (I like to think). For those who wonder why brilliant minds seek the balancing repartee of father figures, Friendship offers page after page of clever insight. In my opinion, the author has done a marvelous job of distilling the offhanded sagacity of two fine minds figuratively placing friendly hands on each other's intellectual throats and letting the other up easy.
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More About the Author

Todd Tarbox was born in Chicago, Illinois, and attended the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, IL. He graduated from the University of the Americas, Mexico DF. As an undergraduate, he wrote and illustrated with his photographs two books--essays on the children of Mexico, "Maria" and "Teresa." Life Magazine featured his work as an educator in the article, "We Love You, Mr. Tarbox." While attending Harvard Graduate School, he founded Tarbox Books. In addition to "Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts," he is the author of "See the World," "Imagine," and co-editor with his wife, Shirley, of "Footprints of Young Explorers." He lives with his wife in Barrington Hills, Illinois.

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