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My Lunches with Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles Paperback – 24 Jun 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA (24 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250051703
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250051707
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 July 2013
Format: Hardcover
Curmudgeon, genius - take your choice. Whichever, Orson Welles was a fascinating conversationalist, opinionated on almost every subject - rude, funny, shocking, illuminating. He was never at a loss for words and thank goodness many of them were kept on tape. The tapes contain conversations between Welles and his friend, director Henry Jaglom. Hidden for a number of years the tapes hold conversations held almost weekly between the two men at the upscale Hollywood restaurant Ma Maison. Not to worry - even though Welles knew his words were being taped he didn't hold back a syllable as he revealed his wit, intelligence, bitterness and anger. He has a word for the famous he hated and those he loved who let him down, and all the while his words sparkle.

Welles speaks of the men he hated (Spencer Tracy because he was Irish; Woody Allen because he used his films as therapy.) He doesn't overlook the women he bedded, dated or his opinion of their acting ability. (He dated Lena Horne and when Hedda Hopper told him to stop Welles told her "to go boil her head." He thought Joan Fontaine a bad actor - "she's got four readings and two expressions, and that's it.")

Once revered for his talent (1941's "Citizen Kane), by 1980 he could not find work. His words are a reminder of how Hollywood idolizes you when your star is in the ascendency, forgets you when you're down. They're also a reminder of just how rare an individual he was, whose talent astounds and whose breadth of knowledge amazes.

Reading these conversations is very much like sitting at table with the man himself. So enjoy!

- Gail Cooke
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Coppernob on 31 July 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have had some dealings with the film industry, and it is a change to read the views of someone who was able to take the lid off its undeserved glamorous image
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Format: Hardcover
Assuming the `conversations' in this book are accurate, it paints a very sad picture of a once great man fading into a disillusioned old man unable to discern truth from fiction and unable to come to terms with his own life. He revels in anguish believing that he has never been given his rightful due.

He speaks of people, almost everyone he mentions, in a most disparaging and disingenuous manner. Very, very few are accorded a compliment.

These conversations which took place towards the end of his life where he recounts, with great authority, story after story, comes across more like misremembered memories carved out to his own taste. In places his monologues read like lectures.

None of this is in keeping with the number of live interviews I have watched on YouTube where he sounds like the brilliant, witty, accomplished professional I thought him to be. Perhaps Wells had the ability to be one person in public and quite another across a lunch table with one person.

It was surprising to me to learn the difficulty he encountered in later life being unable to find ready financing for any project of his, but then as I arrived at Pg.276 where Wells says of (John) Houseman "A real mystery: why they prefer Houseman, with his petulant, arrogant, unpleasant manner. I don't know what is the matter. It's a very weird and terrible situation. I don't know where to turn." it struck me that perhaps it was Wells himself who had a petulant, arrogant, unpleasant manner. At least that is the feeling I am left with from reading this book.

I think it best to judge Orson Wells by his work rather than his `conversations' in this book - if judge we must!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful fun, a great read. I suppose some might dismiss it as merely gossip, but it is gossip of a very high order, from two brilliant minds.
Everyone knows who Orson Welles was; not everyone is so well acquainted with Henry Jaglom + his works. Jaglom, in fact, tho not to everyone's taste (indeed, those who detest his work seem to feel as violently about it as do those, like myself, who passionately love Henry Jaglom's films), is one of the most creative, imaginative, and accomplished film makers of our time.
I particularly would direct the attention of those who love film to a quartet of films by Jaglom---all masterpieces to those who love them---from the 80s + 90s, which I like to think of together as "Henry Jaglom's Holiday Quartet" (each film is loosely associated with a particular US holiday): "Always (But Not Forever)" (1985); "Someone To Love" (1987); "New Year's Day" (1989); and "Last Summer in the Hamptons" (1995).
The reason I go on about Jaglom's films, in the context of this book review, is that readers of "My Lunches with Orson" should understand that they are not merely hearing a great film director being interviewed, but that they are overhearing a conversation between two very accomplished creators of cinema. Both ends of the conversation are well worth listening to.
(It might also be worth noting here that Jaglom, to those who have had the slightest contact with him, is immediately recognized as a man of great generosity and heart. In these pages, we can see one aspect of this noble quality: Henry wishes to do all he can to see that his hero, Welles, one of the greatest and most protean geniuses of American cinema, should be enabled to continue, to resume, to complete...his work.
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