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The Magic World of Orson Welles Paperback – January 1, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The most perceptive study of Welles's art.--Andrew Sarris "Naremore's book, with its wealth of background and close commentary, is certainly the best study of Welles."--Tag Gallagher, Film Comment


Naremore is not simply pandering to the movie buff's passion for unconsidered and inconsiderable trifles, but revealing that it's possible to go on where most Wellesian researchers have stopped.-- Sight and Sound


"It may, along with a small handful of other books, help to change the standards of scholarship and critical sophistication we apply to writing on film. It is patient, intelligent, scrupulously researched, and yet it is never solemn. Absolutely compelling on the more technical aspects of Welles's films."--Michael Wood, Washington Post
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The classic study on the director of Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil , in an updated, revised edition
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Methodist University Press; Revised edition (January 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087074299X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870742996
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Muzzlehatch VINE VOICE on September 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
Certainly a must for any studious Orson Welles fan, Naremore's sympathies in this book lie pretty close to my own - he sees Welles as an independent "auteur", unconventional but not an avant-garde, and someone whose work, far from declining after his first young success with "Citizen Kane" continued to grow, change, and in some respects improve. If your feelings are at all similar - or you want to be convinced - of course I can highly recommend it. He focuses almost entirely on Welles' work, not his life, and within that still-wide area concentrates specifically on five films ("Citizen Kane", "The Magnificent Ambersons", "Touch of Evil", "The Trial", and "Chimes at Midnight") which are arguably the master's most important contributions to cinema. I disagree to a large extent with his views on "The Trial" but he's probably seen the film many more times than I have, and under better conditions -- certainly he makes me eager to get back and watch those Welles films that I've not seen so many times again and again. My favorite sections are probably those on 'Ambersons', a film I probably overrate but that Naremore offers some convincing arguments both for and against, and 'Chimes at Midnight'.

There are briefer discussions on Welles' other films as director, though curiously nothing at all on "Filming Othello" which may have at the time of this 2nd edition of the book (1985) not been listed as having been directed by Welles. Very little here on Welles' work as an actor (except in the film he also directed); some discussion on his radio work and incomplete films.

In any case, one of the very top books on Welles' work to date, most strongly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Martin Grams, Jr. on July 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have always been a fan of Orson Welles on radio and television. Having collected a ton of radio broadcasts on CD and audio cassette and having watched most of his movies, I appreciate the genius of his work. I picked up a copy of this book recently and am amazed at the amount of research put into it. An aspect of Welles rarely discussed is his magic career. At the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention this September in Aberdeen, Maryland, I plan to attend the presentation about Orson Welles and his magic career so I can watch rare footage and films with Welles, and get an even deeper insight to his trickery. Book comes recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr René Codoni on December 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Naremore-Welles (1989)

James Naremore : The Magic World of Orson Welles
Southern Methodist, 1989, new and revised (first OUP, 1978)

For the first time in history, Sight & Sound, the monthly magazine of the slightly eclectic British Film Institute, has voted Citizen Kane (1941) No2, switching place with Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958), which is now No1 (191 against 157 votes) of the World's 50 best films of all times (past, of course). This statement says a few devastating things about ranking in general, and about datedness no problem for top rankers. In my judgment, this particular ranking is too wide in spread (over 100 years) and too narrow in sample. That it also elected Jean-Luc Godard four times and Francis Ford Coppola with three best films further ridicules the approach.

Welles, whatever anybody votes, to me remains clearly a more interesting filmmaker, not unlike Hitchcock, who is also using much sophisticated camera work, but Welles is altogether more innovative, with more real drama than the calculated thrillers Hitchcock offers. In a way, they are both history, where they managed to attract crowds. Hitchcock today is as much as easier as he always was: films all available on dvd, always. Welles had many parallel careers, as actor also, as a Shakespearean director and actor, as a narrator, and an author of many amounts of filmed material. He also liked working in Europa, where he is still considered the top authority on film language and camera work.

Of all of Welles' works, I myself concentrate on five: Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai, The Third Man (actor only), Touch of evil, The trial. Naremore's book analyses four (less the Third Man), but of course all the others as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jordan Brady on July 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An amazing book that does not try and make a case for Welle's genius, but let's the historical facts do all the talking. Naremore has collected the best sources and information to craft a biography that not only engages on a narrative level, but constantly challenges the reader to form their own opinions on the man who was Orson Welles.
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It's good to see a new updated edition of James Naremore's classic study of Orson Welles -- the best critical study of Welles ever written.

There are some revisions and a thoughtful new introduction, "Orson Welles at 100." Naremore has a way of getting to essential aspects of Welles's staggeringly complex career and analyzing them in depth. He deals with aspects often slighted, such as Welles's keen interests in politics and education (some of the leads to these topics were revealed by Welles's FBI file, which Naremore managed to get released). I'd recommend this new edition to anyone interested in Welles, including those who have read the two earlier editions. I've been rereading older parts with pleasure. A good book has that way of inviting you to return and remember and discover.
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