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Customer Review

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre whodunit, September 6, 2011
This review is from: Fade to Black (DVD)
Orson Welles (1915-85) created some of the very best theatre, radio, and films in history, and is credited by almost everyone for making the #1 film of all time - "Citizen Kane" (1941). But someone along the line, early on, he started having problems with producers and studios, left projects unfinished, went over budget, and a whole host of problems that ultimately resulted in fewer and fewer films of lesser and lesser quality. With the failure of "The Lady from Shanghai" (1947) and "Macbeth" (1948), Welles' career in the US was virtually finished, and he went to Europe where he was still held in high regard, but was relegated to making low budget films and appearing as an actor to finance his various projects.

The film takes place in 1948 at the second post WW 2 election in Italy as the Christian Democrats are maneuvering to win after having broken with their partners, the Communist and Socialist parties. In the film, Orson Welles comes to Rome to make "Black Magic" (1949) and gets involved in murder and political intrigue centering on the election.

FWIW - The Christian Democrats won 48.5% and took control until 1994.

Danny Huston (1962) plays Orson Welles. Huston is the son of actor/director John Huston. He's made a few dozen films the most notable of which are Poseidon in "Clash of the Titans" (2010), the young Stryker in "X-Men Origins" (2009), and Samuel Adams in the TV series of the same name (2008).

Unfortunately Huston bears little if any resemblance to Welles, so he has to rely on his considerable skills in mimicry. They serve him well, but it is nowhere as effective as Christian McKay was as Welles in "Me and Orson Welles" (2009).

Christopher Walken (1963) plays an American agent in Rome and an old friend of Welles. Walken, of course, is one of the finest actors ever, received two Oscar nominations ("Catch Me if you Can", "The Deer Hunter") and won for "The Deer Hunter" (1978). He can play comedy (Hairspray", "Wedding Crashers"), gangsters ("Suicide Kings", "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead"), drama ("Man on Fire") etc. His dancing and singing skills are considerable and he tries to weave them into most of his films.

Unfortunately this film is more like one of Welles' B films than his A list films, and in reality it is more of a B whodunit rather than a film that deals with Orson Welles particularly. IOW - the protagonist could be anyone. The plot is a little convoluted, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the acting is so bland (apart from Huston) that it's hard to get involved with the story. Which is, of course, one of the striking characteristics of many of Welles' B films.

Bottom line - a mediocre whodunit with some amusing looks at Orson Welles' lifestyle circa 1948.
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