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Orson Welles: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers Series) Paperback – February 20, 2002
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After Hollywood had turned its back on him, Orson Welles became better known as a raconteur than as a film director, and something of a TV talk-show staple. As such, he seems a natural subject for University Press of Mississippi's series of interviews with filmmakers. The earliest of the 15 conversations collected here come from mass-market magazines, such as the Saturday Evening Post, dating from when Welles was the theatrical wunderkind who panicked the nation with his War of the Worlds radio show. But the later colloquies, mostly from film journals and many translated into English for the first time here, are the most substantial, as the erudite, evasive, egotistical, and entertaining Welles discusses everything from Shakespeare to politics. There are some glaring inconsistencies between one interview and another, but Welles' probable lies are fascinating in themselves. Peter Bogdanovich's book-length Welles interview beats this collection in overall depth; but these diverse talks from throughout the course of four decades offer an appropriately multifaceted view of the protean Welles. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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An array of interviews, profiles, and press conferences tracing the half century that this multidimensional film director and actor was in the public eye
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Top customer reviews
Your reaction to this man and what he says is your own, I highly recomend this to you. From a point of view looking at how the book is compiled and the editor's job this book still maintains a 5-star rating. It is well put together from interviews that span his tumultuous career. Fantastic.
I watched Citizen Kane again just before this arrived from Amazon. I read the book and then I saw one of Welles' later movies F for Fake (criterion and very highly recomended.) and that made the book and movies come to life in new and great ways.
do yourself a favor and check them out! There is nothing like hearing what the artists have to say about their work! University Press of Mississippi has a very broad series of books with interviews of film makers. I recomend, as well, takign a look at them!
The issue of translation, however, brings up a major problem I had. Four pieces were originally published in French, including two lengthy interviews co-conducted by the famed critic and theorist, Andre Bazin. All four are credited as being translated for this collection by Alisa Hartz. Nowhere does the editor indicate whether the interviews were conducted in English or French. Bazin's forward to the second of his interviews makes clear that it was conducted in English. Assuming this was so of all four interviews, it would mean the interviews were translated into French for their original publication and then re-translated into English for this volume, taking us two removes away from Welles' original words. Did the editor make an effort to find any original English transcripts or recordings, if they existed? I would like to have known that. Was any special effort made by the translator, when re-translating back into English, to try and capture Welles' particular style of speaking? The editor's failure to address this issue is a sore point for me. (One can, of course, turn to Peter Bogdanovich's collection of Welles interviews, "This is Orson Welles," Da Capo Press/1998, to read how Welles told some of the same stories to yet another interviewer.)
Also, minor problems stem from the constant accumulation of tantalizing hints of Welles projects-in-the-works and varying states of completion. A reference to a completed version of "Moby Dick," which Welles supposedly directed for English television, is left hanging. In more than one interview he insists that "Don Quixote" is almost finished. In one piece it is stated that he bought back "It's All True" from RKO and in the next, nearly two years later, it is stated he is still trying to find money to buy it back. He claims to have written a third of Howard Hawks' famous gender-bending comedy, "I Was a Male War Bride" and also claims that much of Buster Keaton's footage in Charlie Chaplin's "Limelight" was cut out by Chaplin. Were these claims corroborated in any way? Some explanatory footnotes would have been helpful throughout the book. Granted, other books have come along to straighten all this out, and I'm admittedly asking too much of the editor here to add to his own considerable task. But since I don't have the books that might answer the questions raised by these tidbits, I can't help but feel hungry for more.
Even so, there's tons of good material to savor, including an item about H.G. Wells suing Orson Welles over the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. There are plenty of Welles' thoughts, both positive and negative, on other film directors, including such predecessors as John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock, such contemporaries as John Huston and Nicholas Ray, and such successors as Stanley Kubrick. Welles admits he would have sold his soul to play "The Godfather." His passion for Shakespeare got me to wondering what Gore Vidal, another voracious reader of the classics, thought of Welles and if they ever even met. Sure enough, at the end of the book, there's a piece by Vidal called, "Remembering Orson Welles," which answered my questions. So I recommend the book highly, despite my reservations.