One could dispute whether Welles should have placed so much trust in this agreement, but acknowledging that it existed is a prerequisite for evaluating his behavior.
At this point Welles disappeared to Europe for a year exile from which he would only return briefly and occasionally, leaving behind him a soundtrack and three weeks of loosely assembled footage. It was three years before the finished film would achieve anything like a general release, and when it did it was in such truncated and refashioned form that it was scarcely the film he had shot. Once again, his work had been confiscated from him. It is hard not to detect a pattern of sorts.
Had he learned nothing from his absence from the postproduction process on The Magnificent Ambersons? He knew from bitter experience that long-distance, remote control editing was impossible, to say nothing of absence from the increasingly important preview period at which studio executives were prone to panic. Again, Callow spends some fruitful time on this period, which is perhaps lesser-known than the feature film tales, but is ultimately essential in getting to understand the complicated combination of a need to please and amaze, and a need to be left alone to do things his way, and a need to convince people of the primacy of certain self-evident truths.
There is also a curious aside towards the end, where Callow discusses the theory that Welles was in some way involved with the Black Dahlia murder, as was claimed by one of the victim's friends. There are in fact some curious coincidences that align with the woman's fanciful? No one else has gone there with their theories, but it's an interesting insight into this turbulent period in Welles' life, as he spurned the most-wanted woman in the world at the time the emotionally needy Rita Hayworth for prostitutes and tomcatting.
The volume ends with Welles on his way to Europe.
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Of course, we know how this story ultimately ends, but it is a testament to Welles' undimmed art and Callow's indefatigable examination of this lifelong glittering swan dive that we are eager to see how the fallen prince will be able to make his way through the shattered postwar panorama of the Old Continent. And we know there are some stunning films and way too many TV ads still to come.
Sep 10, David Sheward rated it really liked it. Simon Callow's second volume of Orson Welles' eclectic life is just as detailed and complex as the first which ended at the release of Citizen Kane. This second volume attempted to explain how the wunderkind fell out of favor with Hollywood and became an exile in Europe.
During the Ambersons' post-production process, he was offered the job of making a good will film about Latin America. With no structure, script or studio supervision, the yo Simon Callow's second volume of Orson Welles' eclectic life is just as detailed and complex as the first which ended at the release of Citizen Kane.
With no structure, script or studio supervision, the young polymath went nuts--drinking, carousing, filming, jumping from country to country. Meanwhile, Ambersons was cut up to please lowbrow audiences. If only he had stayed in Hollywood and curbed his excesses, who knows what would have resulted? Callow takes in Welles' flaws and those of the studio system, explaining it was a perfect storm of dysfunction. The same could be said of his marriage to Rita Hayworth. He thought he would be able to cover all of Welles' career in one volume, but he needed a third--One Man Band--and then a fourth, as yet unpublished.
I look forward to reading both books, but I need a rest with something else first. Jul 16, Xackery Irving rated it it was amazing. Jun 07, Tony Laplume rated it liked it. Actually not that bad a book despite the relatively low rating I gave it. So let me explain The thing is, Callow seems completely unequal to the task of figuring out such a massive titan as Orson Welles.
I will grant that this is the second of three volumes probably, right? I somewhat doubt that. Enough allus Actually not that bad a book despite the relatively low rating I gave it. Enough allusion is made to whatever exists in the first that the reader of the second shouldn't have missed anything essential. That being said, what Callow's biggest sin is that he seems to forget that his task is Orson Welles, and not a mere chronology of his activities from the given handful of years. And the strangest part of what he does do is make it virtually impossible to sympathize with Welles.
In essence, this is a book that would have made his enemies very, very proud, vindicated in all their efforts to, in effect, completely sabotage and dismantle his efforts and future potential. When he is sympathetic, Callow is instead as obsessive as Welles himself. Little wonder as to why he chose the man as a subject, then.
He becomes beholden to projects in minute detail, as if that explains Welles, apropos of nothing. In order to represent the genius of the man, he gives blow for blow accounts of certain things. And yet his internal editor is as erratic as the studios that so gleefully chopped up Welles' work. So in a certain sense, this is a book that is all too appropriate a portrait of someone later fans might barely have comprehended in full previously, with the legend eclipsing the reality save to report the boy wonder's epic decline.
If that's what you want to read, then by all means, do what I did. Or perhaps look for or await something better. But then, perhaps it takes a genius to truly comprehend a genius.
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And perhaps that simply hasn't happened yet. If anyone reading this review knows of such an effort, please let me know. Feb 10, Bill rated it it was amazing. Welles is one of the most influential figures in cinema and as such deserves a great biography. Callow delivers, giving us a Welles of genius and petulance. The first volume covered Welles's youth with its myriad of influences and his incredible successes in theater, radio, and film that resulted in his being named the Boy Wonder.
This volume details his fall due to his own over-reaching and neglect. Callow gives us a Welles that is hard to like or even admire, even when he is championing civil Welles is one of the most influential figures in cinema and as such deserves a great biography. Callow gives us a Welles that is hard to like or even admire, even when he is championing civil rights and democracy. He is extremely hard on Welles the actor not surprising since Callow himself is an actor. But he also does not let us forget Welles's genius as a director of cinema.
His readings of the films is illuminating and makes one long for the versions Welles envisioned instead of the mangled studio versions we are left with. I was quite surprised at Callow's description of Welles version of The Stranger. Sep 11, Steve Mcmullen rated it really liked it. Volume Two of Simon Callow's planned 3-part biography of Orson Welles is just as meticulously researched and engagingly written as the first volume.
Unlike previous Welles biographers, Callow neither elevates his subject to a godlike status nor denigrates him as a talentless egomaniacal bully. Callow acknowledges Welles' genius when it is deserved; he also unflinchinly analyzes Welles' self-destructive nature. Welles was clearly his own worst enemy. This book covers only a seven-year period in O Volume Two of Simon Callow's planned 3-part biography of Orson Welles is just as meticulously researched and engagingly written as the first volume.
This book covers only a seven-year period in Orson's life, but it was a period of unceasing activity on multiple fronts.
Orson Welles, Volume 2
Welles directed a handful of pictures, did dozens of radio broadcasts, wrote a newspaper column, directed for the stage, was a committed political activist, and still found time to eat, drink, and carouse to excess. Orson Welles is a dynamic and fascinating character, and Simon Callow does an admirable job of sketching in the details of Welles' life. And Callow is the most insightful biographer in that he sees both the Wellescentric point of view and that of the studios paticularly good passages can be found on p. My only complaint is that some of the quotes Callow uses from Welles' films are inaccurate is he writing from memory?
However, in summarizing Welles "Confinement, whether personal or professional, was unbearable to Orson Welles" , I feel he has hit the nail on the head, and such insights more than make up for any small errors that may be present. Callow makes much of little but if you want tons of detail and lots of authorial speculation and interpretation, this is the book to read.
The Road to Xandau". This volume covers the years from to Callow has promised a third and final volume to the series covering the years from to the death of Welles in The book begins with triumph for the boy genius! Welles saw his first and best film "Citizen Kane" given the royal treatment at a fabulous premier as he escorted the lovely Mexican actress Dolores del Rio on his fleshy arm. Welles would lose the support of top brass at Columbia Pictures never repeating the acclaim garned by Kane.
Orson Welles went to Brazil for the filming of "It's All True" which was supposed to be a film promoting good will with our American neighbors as the war clouds in Europe were about to break unleashing the horror of World War II, Welles arrived in South America where he played, cavorted, drank, ate and danced at carnival time.
The film withered on the vine to the disgust of his creative associates and Hollywood executives.
Orson Welles, Vol. 2: Hello Americans
After over pages of dense writing by biographer Callow we learn that nothing came of this project. The failure of his South American film was a signal that Welles was losing his popularity. As a cinematic genius he would continue to experiment with film the rest of his life producing a good deal of failures tempered by some successes.
The last quarter century of his life would be spent in Europe. Welles failed to win plaudits for the chopped up "The Magnificent Ambersons" which is still a fine filming of the Booth Tarkington chronicle of the rise and fall of a wealthy Indiana family in the early years of the twentieth century. His film "Journey Into Darkness" was a so-so film while the artistic "The Lady from Shangai" with ex-wife Rita Hayworth in the lead is considered an imperfect classic.
Welles dyed Miss Hayworth's hair blonde for her starring role as a mysterious murderess. The scene in the Fun House with the mirror imagery is classic film. Welles was a liberal Democrat who spoke out against racial discrimination. Welles, to his great credit, was free of racial prejudice, Welles toyed with politics writing a current events column for a newspaper syndicate and going on good will tours for Uncle Sam.
He was not drafted but did consider himself a patriotic American. He was never a Communist. The McCarthy era gave him the willies leading to his leaving the states in Welles filmed the Shakespearean play "Macbeth" which was compared unfavorably to the Laurence Olivier hit "Hamlet". Orson Welles had less than an admirable character. He was a serial cheater during marriage to his second wife the stunningly beautiful sex goddess Rita Hayworth.
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The couple had a child named Rebecca but Welles was not interested in playing daddy. He had affairs with Lena Horne, Judy Garland and a legion of other ladies. He was a braggart with a Texas size ego who could be explosive and crude. Welles wanted you to do it his way or hit the highway. On the other hand, he could be witty, charming, kind and supportive of good causes. The man was as are repeatedly told a "genius" whatever that word is supposed to mean. One wishes that Simon Callow would be able to finish volume three of his magnus opus on Orson Welles. Welles is essential for anyone wanting to explore cinema in the twentieth century.
Simon Callow is his excellent biographer. Well done work of biography. Well-written, well-researched, fascinating subject! Callow is a great writer and biographer. Both his first colume and this are a true history of of the threater during Mr. Wells life and his effect on it. Callow does not hide any facet of Wells, so you get a true perspective on his character.
I look forward to Volume Three. I would warn potential readers that they should read this knowing that Mr. Wells was very radical politically. In some areas this was commendable and in some not so. Like many genius' Mr.