To know an artist, you must know all the work they ever made public. But to truly, thoroughly know an artist, you must also know all the work they never made public. This notion, in our age of DVD deleted scenes, dedicated university courses, and other aids to completist enthusiasm, has gained quite a lot of traction. But how many creators working today give you the sense of only seeing the tip of their productive iceberg than did Orson Welles, whose rumored unseen or never fully developed works sometimes seem even to outnumber those in his impressive and (in the main) highly acclaimed canon? Sure, the man made War of the Worlds and Citizen Kane, but everyone knows those. What about The Dreamers, The Deep, The Other Side of the Wind — seen any of those? Now, thanks to Cinephilia and Beyond, you can see them, or at least parts of them, in 1995’s Orson Welles: The One-Man Band by German filmmaker and serious Welles fan Vassili Silovic.
In collaboration with the auteur’s longtime companion Oda Kojar, Silovic digs into the Welles archives and bring to light evidence of all sorts of projects unrealized, unfinished, or simply unreleased. The New York Times‘ Stephen Holden writes that Silovic’s film “offers tantalizing excerpts from Welles’s later works along with reminiscences by Ms. Kodar of their nomadic life together. As Welles dashed about the globe pursuing acting jobs and financing for his projects, he toted around a 16-millimeter editing table and a giant suitcase of equipment that made him the film-making equivalent of a one-man band. Many of his smaller projects might be described as ambitious home movies filmed on the spot wherever he happened to be.” We see bits and pieces of an incomplete thriller, a clip from the pilot for a proposed television talk show, some of “the story of an aging, ferociously independent film director (played by John Huston) wrestling with the Hollywood establishment to complete an iconoclastic work.” We even get a glimpse, as if you still needed evidence that Welles led a storied life, of a chat he had with the Muppets.
You can find some iconic, complete films by Welles in our collection, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.