An Animation of Orson Welles’ Famous Frozen Peas Rant

If you get into a con­ver­sa­tion with an Orson Welles enthu­si­ast, try not to men­tion frozen peas. By now, even those who bare­ly know Welles’ work — those who’ve bare­ly seen Cit­i­zen Kane or heard War of the Worlds, let alone The Mag­nif­i­cent Amber­sons or F for Fake — chuck­le at the fact that, in the twi­light of his career, the actor-auteur took on such the­o­ret­i­cal­ly easy-mon­ey jobs as pre­sent­ing an “instruc­tion­al film” on gam­bling for Cae­sars Palace and nar­rat­ing a series of British tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials for Swedish frozen-food giant Find­us. But even in hum­ble con­texts like these, Welles, as his afore­men­tioned fans would sure­ly admit, could make headaches for his employ­ers. The Find­us peo­ple, with whose direc­tor and copy­writer Welles appar­ent­ly did­n’t see eye-to-eye, would soon find this out — as would every lis­ten­er to the uncut record­ings from that unhap­py day in the stu­dio.

At the top, you can hear that very audio and watch it ani­mat­ed by Neil Williams. He visu­al­izes Welles’ con­ster­na­tion in the face of the direc­tor’s request to empha­size the word “in” (“there’s no known way of say­ing an Eng­lish sen­tence in which you begin a sen­tence with ‘in’ and empha­size it”) while pitch­ing those frozen peas. And then there’s Welles’ objec­tion to the dif­fi­cult-to-enun­ci­ate “crumb crisp coat­ing” on Find­us fish sticks, and his blowup over how many times to say “beef” when describ­ing their ham­burg­ers as well. Vet­er­an voice actor Mau­rice LaMarche, who has no doubt labored even longer in record­ing booths than Welles did, won an ear­ly burst of fame with his uncan­ny impres­sion of Welles. When he used a ver­sion of that voice for The Brain, the Ani­ma­ni­acs’ dour, world-dom­i­na­tion-mind­ed car­toon mouse, the idea for a frozen peas par­o­dy sketch, which you can watch above, must have sug­gest­ed itself.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Orson Welles Teach­es Bac­carat, Craps, Black­jack, Roulette, and Keno at Cae­sars Palace (1978)

Orson Welles Nar­rates Plato’s Cave Alle­go­ry, Kafka’s Para­ble, and Free­dom Riv­er

The Hearts of Age: Orson Welles’ Sur­re­al­ist First Film (1934)

Orson Welles’ The Stranger: Watch The Full Movie Free Online

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (4)
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  • PeaNess says:

    Don’t for­get about your green pea ness.nn

  • jidakida says:

    Dude that makes a ll kinds of crazy sense.

  • Victor Laszlo says:

    Go Orson, Go! nnIf you’re going to be a pain in the neck, do it in style, like Orson Welles did. Lol.nnGranted he’s being picky, but Orson is right in his crit­i­cisms of the awful ad copy and mean­ing­less direction.nnAfter a life­time of excel­lence and dreams which were nev­er to be, to think he had to lend that great Shake­speare­an voice to hawk­ing frozen peas. For any­one out there who has tast­ed suc­cess, or per­haps even a bit of great­ness, to be rel­e­gat­ed to tak­ing direc­tion from some­one a quar­ter your age about a sub­ject which has been your lifeblood, speak­ing, in Orson­’s case, you can under­stand his frus­tra­tion. Today, this does hap­pen with celebri­ties in all kinds of gigs and functions.nnnRemember, all of us on our jobs,whatever they are, con­struc­tion, web design, retail, what­ev­er, have all rant­ed or want­ed to about the mun­dane pains of our jobs. Orson­’s just hap­pened to have been record­ed in qual­i­ty audio, that’s all. nnnOr­son, if you’re out there in the fjords of Fin­land know this: You were the most unique, diverse­ly tal­ent­ed Amer­i­can enter­tain­er we’ve ever had bar none. nnRest in Peas, I mean, Peace. ;)

  • Tygve Olof says:

    How on earth can you claim that Find­us is Swedish? Check your facts. It’s Nor­we­gian.

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