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Orson Welles's Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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“Supremely entertaining ...[and]... an early contender for this year's best book about Hollywood.” ―Hollywood Reporter
“Meticulously researched.” ―The Washington Post
“Highly entertaining.” ―New York Post
“In Josh Karp's excellent new book, you get a sensitively rendered and panoramic depiction of that famous megalomania. Welles is as ripe a subject as any to depict Hollywood hubris, but Karp's lively tone keeps him on a balanced, human level. There's no shortage of hilarious anecdotes here. A-” ―Entertainment Weekly
“Josh Karp applies enthusiastic scholarship, with vivid narrative writing and just the right touch of can-you-believe-this-stuff? marvel.” ―The New York Times
“Fascinating...an in-depth account. [A] wonderful book.” ―Wall Street Journal
“Karp's propulsive chronicle of the botched production is a hall of fun-house mirrors. Welles's improvised pastiche, begun in 1970, would star John Huston as a brilliant, egotistical director laboring to finish a masterpiece before dying at the age of 70. Fifteen years later, Welles himself died at 70, his masterpiece unfinished - which was far from the end of a story as gripping, probably, as the still-unseen movie.” ―New York Magazine
“Karp's conversational tone yet unerring attention to detail make this an essential book on Welles...an intimate, humorous, and staggering tale. This is easily one of the most enjoyable and informative books about Welles ever published.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“What became of The Other Side of the Wind, that crazy movie that took up the last 15 years of the life of Orson Welles? Karp puts that question to rest with this hilarious and sobering saga of one of the greatest films never finished. Luckily, there's nothing unfinished in Karp's retelling. He follows every story, dollar and last legal battle in full detail. Whether the film sees a 2015 release on the anniversary of Welles' birth, as was speculated as of late last year, we at least have Karp to thank for the next best thing.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“A fascinating story, much more than your typical making-of book.” ―Booklist
“Riveting, wildly entertaining.” ―Vulture
“Everything Welles ever did was a kind of adventure: The Other Side of the Wind--a film made up as it went along--was perhaps the greatest, maddest adventure of all. Josh Karp's absolutely riveting book recreates the whole tragic, comic enterprise, creating an unforgettable portrait of a middle-aged Welles thrashing around as only a frustrated genius could thrash around, in quest of an ever-elusive dream of film, assembled from a hundred thousand fragments of spur-of-the-minute inspirations. Like some semi-mythic warlord, Welles lays about him, bullying, terrifying, charming, lying, cheating, cajoling, manipulating, destroying, creating in pursuit of a goal he himself barely understands. Orson Welles's Last Movie is a massive contribution to Welles scholarship, and an unputdownable read.” ―Simon Callow, author of Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu and Orson Welles: Hello Americans
“If you're writing a biography of a movie, especially one by Orson Welles, it's not such a great idea to compete with your subject, unless you're sure you can pull it off. Happily, Karp does. This is the most entertaining film book I've read in years--informative, funny, and least expected, freshly researched. Orson would have loved it.” ―Peter Biskind, My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles
“Like the best Hollywood stories, Josh Karp's entertaining book veers between slapstick and tragedy, and is filled with larger-than-life characters who are charmed and doomed by their own hopefulness and cynicism, charisma and buffoonery. With wit and insight, Karp has made a valuable contribution to the enduring legend of Orson Welles, and proved once again that in the movie business, improbability may be the one enduring truth.” ―Julie Salamon, author of The Devil's Candy and Wendy and the Lost Boys
“Josh Karp has written a Hollywood epic as grand as any shot by Frank Capra, Preston Sturges or Orson Welles. In the end, this book is about more than a movie that was never quite finished. It's about an industry, an era and the artistic process. Funny and profound, too weird and heartbreaking to believe--Karp has added an indelible chapter to the literature of show biz.” ―Rich Cohen, New York Times bestselling author of Monsters, The Avengers, and Tough Jews
“A maverick director, shady dealings, and the Iranian revolution make up the often incredible true story behind The Other Side of the Wind. Packed with revealing first-hand accounts, Orson Welles's Last Movie recounts the making and downfall of the ill-fated comeback of the film industry's most talented prodigal son.” ―Ray Kelly, Wellesnet.com
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Top Customer Reviews
Karp has tied all the history of this unreleased film together, showing Welles' process and progress along the way. He sorts through the tangled web of Welles' finances, which is not easy (Welles had been financing his own films through his acting work for decades), and introduces us to the Shah of Iran's brother-in-law, various lawyers, Canadian arts reps and a delightful reappearance from Suzanne Cloutier, who played Desdemona in Welles' great film of Othello (nearly four years in the making and which was mainly finished by Welles through funding from his acting work).
Orson Welles's Last Movie: The Other Side of the Wind is very enjoyable, witty and revealing, all at once. There are plans afoot to bring it to the screen later this year; it appears all the tangled web of ownership has been resolved and piecing together the remaining elements of the film is taking place. I've seen some of the footage of the movie (Welles showed several clips at the AFI Tribute in 1975, hoping for end money which never came) and the scenes are wonderful. It will add more to the legend of Welles and this book will hold a permanent place on any Welles fan's bookshelf.
The second part is problematic for Welles aficionados (who let's face it are the only people likely to pick up this book in the first place). It's merely a re-hash of all the gossip, innuendo and mythology surrounding the unfortunate history of Welles, his career, and the film in question. Some of the biographical material sounds all to familiar and hardly worth including. The stories and myths present a rather unfocused picture of Welles which makes it difficult to find a rational for the problems with the film. And Karp is a bit to coy with references to some anonymous sources which call the stories into doubt.
But the third part is worth the price of admission. Karp untangles and illuminates the thoroughly bizarre financial arrangements that have caused much of the delay in this film being seen by the public. The rumor is the film will now be shown in this Welles' centenary year but, especially after reading this third section, I and undoubtedly a lot of other Welles fans will be skeptical until we are actually in a theater with the lights going down and the reels unspooling.
A final note that was out of the author's hands. The digital version of this book is done very poorly. No index, very poor citation methodology (you're advised to use the search feature), all of which undercuts the value of this book as a work of scholarship or journalism
The myth of Welles "fear of completion" of his various film projects is a risible one. Here is a man who against all odds battled bravely and passionately to give the world his vision via a handful of films.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this as a gift. I have not heard yet if my son likes this or not.Published 3 months ago by Celia Schwartz
Fascinating topic: the final film of Orson Welles that he never finished.Published 3 months ago by Steek
I stumbled across this wonderful book and was blown away by this amazing backstory to Orson Welles' unfinished film. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Drew Youngblood
Josh Karp did an amazing job of researching the long history of Welles's last picture. The book is written in an entertaining way, that in itself is like a Welles's picture. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Archie Gillis
This may be the most succinct as well as most insightful portrait of the enigma wrapped in a paradox that was known as Orson Welles. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Nicholas Meyer
Really excellent book on the beginning and middle of this fascinating project. Karp gives just enough back ground on the various players to keep the action going while not getting... Read morePublished 8 months ago by JCN