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This Is Orson Welles [Paperback]

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Mar 1998
Innovative film and theater director, radio producer, actor, writer, painter, narrator, and magician, Orson Welles (1915--1985) was the last true Renaissance man of the twentieth century. From such great radio works as "War of the Worlds" to his cinematic masterpieces Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Othello, Macbeth, Touch of Evil, and Chimes at Midnight, Welles was a master storyteller, as expansive as he was enigmatic. This Is Orson Welles, a collection of penetrating and witty conversations between Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, includes insights into Welles's radio, theater, film, and television work; Hollywood producers, directors, and stars; and almost everything else, from acting to magic, literature to comic strips, bullfighters to gangsters. Now including Welles's revealing memo to Universal about his artistic intentions for Touch of Evil, (of which the "director's edition" was released in Fall 1998) this book, which Welles ultimately considered his autobiography, is a masterpiece as unique and engaging as the best of his works.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: DaCapo Press; New Ed edition (1 Mar 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030680834X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306808340
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 12.9 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 276,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Peter Bogdanovich is the award-winning director of The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon, What's Up Doc?, Mask, and others; he is also the author of John Ford, Pieces of Time, The Killing of the Unicorn, and Who the Devil Made It. He lives in New York City. Jonathan Rosenbaum is the co-author of Midnight Movies, author of Moving Places, Placing Movies, and Movies as Politics; and film critic for the Chicago Reader.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ORSON WELLES: A couple of years before I went to Hollywood, Metro-Goldwyn-Myer had loaned a then unknown actress named Hedy Lamarr to Walter Wanger and he'd produced a picture with her and Charles Boyer called Algiers, a frame-for-frame remake of Pepe le Moko. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welles' Own Book 24 Oct 2007
This is not an interview with Orson Welles by a brilliant director and cinephile. This is a book by Welles. As soon as Bogdanovich had the interviews typed he sent them to Welles, and he edited them. And since he was a genius of editing, he made his second Citizen Kane--or better his Citizen Welles. Only it isn't a movie, it's a book.

A wonderful book for anybody who likes cinema, radio, theatre--the media. And for all those who want to know the mind behind that masterpiece that is always in all the 10 Best Movies Ever lists: Citizen Kane. Which is not the only film discussed here: Welles tells it all, and even if it isn't all true, who cares? It's great anyway. What can you expect from the author of F for Fake?

It's like Welles himself: greater than life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By reading this book you get to know the person!, and in the last chapters you can already tell in advance what Welles will answer to certain questions, say on the given subjects...so rich is the image this books gives the reader!
Reading this book is assisting to a conversation between friends...a very interesting experience, easy to follow,very amusing, and very serious...
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Small type 13 Feb 2011
By Carole
I bought this book as a present - even though it's was written in the 90's it's thought to be the best book on Orson Welles.
Unfortunately the book could do with being bigger - it's in paperback, the type is quite small and it's a bit unwieldy to read as there are so many pages. If you can get the original hardback (which is difficult as it's an American book and out of print now) it would be better.
Also, I had to order this twice as the first book arrived warped, as if it had been stored in a damp atmosphere. The second one was only slightly better but improved after I had weighted it down with something heavy!
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Word On An American Filmmaker 31 Jan 2000
By DCromwell - Published on Amazon.com
Some have criticized this book, which Welles felt was the definitive word on his films, by stating that it never deals with Orson's children or his failed marriages. That has nothing to do with what this book is about. If you are looking for a biography then look elsewhere. This is Orson Welles talking about his films and his life in film and what he was trying to do and say. When I finished reading I knew that for once Welles was getting the final word on his films and that what he said was honest. If you want to really know him as an artist I would strongly recommend reading this book. It's a very fast read even though it's crammed full of insights. As a bonus it also contains the shooting script for Magnificent Ambersons which would have exceeded Citizen Kane in its beauty if RKO hadn't cut it to shreds. I strongly recommend this book.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles: The Man and his Movies, Larger Than Life 28 Aug 2002
By Interplanetary Funksmanship - Published on Amazon.com
I commend to the book above, an interview with Peter Bogdanovich.
Although I'm not a huge fan of the latter's movies (with the exception of "Paper Moon," which I loved ever since it came out when I was eight, and fell in love with tomboy Tatum O'Neill forthrightly), I have begun reading about half of this book over the past few days, and find it better than my previous favourite, the Hitchcock/Truffaut book. Of course, much favoured above Wilder/Crowe, namely because of Crowe's incessant name dropping of "Jerry Maguire" and "Tom Cruise" every other irritating sentence, which prevented the reader from finding out what
Wilder had on *his* mind.
What impresses me about the Welles/Bogdanovich volume is the raucous sense of humour Welles brings to the conversation, always as lively and as larger-than-life as Welles was. Also, Bogdanovich has laced the book with pertinent interviews, articles, anecdotes that elucidate certain points of the text, as well as Welles' lines cut from "Magnificent Ambersons" and the long memorandum he wrote to Universal studio chiefs and cc'd to Chuck Heston, trying to save what I consider his masterwork,
"Touch of Evil" from falling prey to overzealous editing by indifferent studio hacks.
But most of all, I am touched that when all the world was dumping on Welles, when he was being derided as a has-been and a spendthrift, that up-and-coming director Bogdanovich gave him his friendship and accorded him the respect he was so shamefully denied. Even Pauline Kael couldn't resist savaging Welles, and she wrote a particularly nasty and libelous article that Welles didn't write any of the screenplay to "Citizen Kane."
Of all Hollywood's sins (and I retain in memory a cross-indexed catalogue of them), the fact that even when Welles started getting "lifetime achievement" accolades, he still couldn't get any financing for his movie projects, on which he worked until his last days, leaves the bitterest taste in my mouth. There must be certain people destined to the lowest rungs of hell -- or at least purgatory -- for creating a world in which Orson Welles' last paid acting role was as the voice of the evil planet in a "Transformers" movie.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, lots of information and source material 2 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
The first good thing about this book is that the interviews are by Peter Bogdanovich who is also a movie maker. He knows as much about movies as Orson and is not afraid to challenge him. There is a lot of source material, e.g. notes/letters/memos written by Orson and other people he worked with which give a very personal feeling to the overall book. Also the fact that the interviews were conducted over a number of years (we are lucky the book ever got published) lends a sense of intimacy.
The full version of the Magnificent Ambersons and a very extensive listing of all of Orson's works make this a must for any Orson fan and indeed for any serious fan of the movies.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touch of Genius 2 April 2002
By Chris Peters - Published on Amazon.com
Of all books about Orson Welles, this one gives us the closest understanding of his genius. It contains a collection of interviews given to Welles by his good friend, Peter Pogdanovich. We are given a personal tour of Welles' thoughts and motivations behind some of his greatest or most notorious works, without the pompous guesswork of an independant biographer. At the same time, Pogdonavich acting as interviewer lends an air of honesty, as Welles isn't as free to reinvent history as he might have been if this were simply an autobiography. However, this interview format makes for a rough chronology, as conversations jump all over the place. The book does give some basic dates and highlights of Welles' life and careers, but the reader is still expected to know a little about Welles. You might want to suppliment this volumne with another Welles biography.
What entertained me the most was Welles' genius for story, which he not only used in such mastery on stage, radio, and film, but also in telling us of his own personal stories. I didn't realize the extent of Welles' accomplishments, which include some of theater and radio's finest moments, as well as film. Before making Citizen Kane at the ripe age of 26 (or 23?), Welles had a fuller, more distinguished life than most people manage to squeeze into a lifetime. Most importantly, this book can give a film fan some general insight to all those great "lost masterpieces", the films in which Welles often lost control over (which basically are the majority of his films). He explains his original visions and where the studios altered his work. Watching these films with this book as my guide, I noticed more of his touch and his genius than I would have without it. A great book and gift to filmmakers everywhere.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rosebud Reigns Supreme in Filmdom 15 Sep 2003
By C. M Mills - Published on Amazon.com
As one who had just completed a viewing of Ciitzen Kane on DVD
(featuring the excellent audio commentary on the film by Roger Ebert & Rudy Behlmer) I turned to Frank Brady's excellent biography.This is Orson Welles completes my examination of this giant of film directorship. Over several years and in many locals the Falstaffian Welles shares his thoughts on film, his own movies and life with his devoted student Peter Bogdonovich
(himself a talented director best known for "The Last Picture Show'). If you want to know what Welles really thinks and believes this book is the Rosetta Stone for your investigation!
As Truffaut was able to discuss his life and films with Sir Alfred Hitchcock so does Peter B. do the same thing for Welles.
After all the reading and studying of Welles the man emerges as a titanic force of nature whose undisciplined genius is a wonder to behold. Any fan of Welles or Cinema should add this excellent book to your library. Well Recommended!
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