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Me & Orson Welles

3.7 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Me and Orson Welles (DVD)

High-schooler Richard Samuels lucks into a role in a daring Broadway production of Julius Caesar. Cues, staging, rehearsals, romance, rivalries: he has a lot to learn. And the first thing to learn is never upstage Mercury Theatre's genius director, 22-year-old Orson Welles. Zac Efron wins hearts and applause as Richard, the Me of this celebratory curtain call for when dreams – and the theater – were big. Christian McKay offers an uncanny Welles, the imposing, impetuous center of Richard's exciting new universe. Claire Danes is the enterprising stage assistant drawn into both men's lives. And Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, The School of Rock) directs with the vibrant spirit of those for whom all the world is a stage. Bravo!


Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ben Chaplin, Claire Danes, Zac Efron, Zoe Kazan, Eddie Marsan
  • Directors: Richard Linklater
  • Writers: Holly Gent Palmo, Vince Palmo
  • Producers: Richard Linklater, Marc Samuelson, Anne Carli
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 13, 2011
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0052XU4F6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #133,445 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chris Swanson VINE VOICE on December 30, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
Orson Welles was a genius in many, many areas. He was an incredible actor, a brilliant director and a showman of the first order. He was also, from many accounts, a major jerk; obsessive and controlling, manipulative and unpleasant. Someone who at least as nasty to his friends as to his enemies. He was, to lift a quote from a certain movie, not a brutal man, but a man who did brutal things.

All these elements of his considerable personality are on display in Richard Linkletter's newest film, Me and Orson Welles. The movie tells the story of a seventeen-year-old boy named Richard (though he's mostly referred to as "Junior"). He's played by Zac Efron (looking sexier than ever), in his finest role to date, which isn't saying a lot.

Richard is a reasonably naive boy who winds up meeting Welles as the great man is preparing for his 1937 stage production of Julius Caesar, a ground-breaking presentation that moved the story into modern times, dressing the cast in fascist uniforms and casting an obvious Jew as the poet Cinna. Richard ends up in the play as a servant to Welles' Brutus, a role which requires him to learn to play the ukulele after claiming he already knew how.

Richard meets all the famous players of the Mercury Theatre, most notably Joseph Cotton, Norman Lloyd and George Coulouris. He also meets, and falls in love with, the beautiful Sonja Jones (Claire Danes). Like Richard, she's a fictional character, and also like Richard, she's far less interesting than the real characters around them.

The movie is completely stolen by Christian McKay's performance as Welles. It is as letter-perfect as any I've ever seen.
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Format: DVD
I wish this small-scale 2009 indie focused far more on the most charismatic person in the cast. Foreboding with a glaring certainty and a penchant for spewing venom at anyone he deems unworthy of his attention, Christian McKay makes the young Orson Welles come alive as the intimidating megalomaniac he had to have been to create a masterpiece like Citizen Kane. In 1937, he was only 22 when he mounted a contemporary version of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" with his legendary troupe, the Mercury Theater, which showcased his prodigious theatrical genius, and his idiosyncratic blend of swagger and insight transcended the backstage chaos that would yield a stage triumph. Welles was the type of man who would shower his cast with hyperbolic praise and then just as suddenly, crush them with harsh criticism.

However, director Richard Linklater (Dazed & Confused), usually not a specialist in period pieces, chooses to focus on the fictional character of 17-year-old Richard Samuels to carry the plot as he witnesses Welles' genius firsthand as a protégé-turned-actor. Filmmaker Cameron Crowe tried the same perspective shift in 2000's Almost Famous, but the device doesn't work as well this time. It's not that teen heartthrob Zac Efron is bad in the role. In fact, he brings an enthusiastic sincerity to his comparatively shallow role, but the dominance of McKay's towering performance provides an imbalance that is difficult to ignore.
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Format: DVD
Based on the novel by Robert Kaplow, "Me and Orson Welles" takes place in 1937, just as the theatrical and radio wunderkind is mounting a bold new stage production of "Julius Caesar" - set in modern times - with his recently formed troupe, the Mercury Theater Players. Richard Samuels (Zak Efron) is a cocky, 17-year-old aspiring actor who charms his way into the company and Welles' good graces - to the extent that such a thing is possible, that is. A serious conflict develops between them, however, when the boy, inexperienced in the ways of love and how the world really works, crosses swords with Welles by foolishly losing his heart to Sonja Jones (Claire Danes), a production assistant who takes the lad to her bed, but who's also not above sleeping her way to the top, even with the maestro himself (David O. Selznick is her next intended target).

As a work of historical fiction, "Me and Orson Welles," written by Holly Gent Palmo and Vince Palmo and directed by Richard Linklater, is less intriguing for the story it tells than for its behind-the-scenes glimpse into the theatrical world of 1930s New York and for the way in which it captures the pulse of its era (even though the interiors were largely filmed in England). The real joy of the film lies in the performance by Christian McKay, who, as Welles, perfectly nails the look and sound of the pop culture legend without once resorting to mimicry or caricature in his effort to do so. Through McKay's work, we get to see Welles for the eccentric and multi-faceted genius (and all-around pain-in-the-ass) he really was - a natural-born entertainer, a smooth-talking ladies man, a raging megalomaniac, and an unforgiving taskmaster, who, through a canny combination of hard work and good, old-fashioned showmanship, turned himself into a household name.
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