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Orson Welles, Volume 2: Hello Americans Hardcover – 4 May 2006
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"Callow is a match for his subject in terms of showmanship but he has gifts
of analysis that eluded Welles" -- Christopher Sylvester, The Sunday Times
"A vivid, sympathetic account provides a definitive explanation of Welless ultimate, lingering downfall." -- Financial Times
"Hello Americans is full of witty asides Enchanting" -- Christopher Silvester, The Sunday Times
"The research is breathtaking. The book is bursting with details, references and anecdotes" -- The Times, James Christopher
"The research is breathtaking. The book is bursting with details, references and anecdotes" -- The Times
"Welless packed schedule is rifled through with chatty elegance" -- Sunday Telegraph, Catherine Shoard
'Callows authoritative analyses, and the honest, modest tenor of his gorgeous prose, are a joy to read. -- David Isaacson, The Word
'[A] universal story of hubris, wasted talent, and celebrity achieved at much too young an age.' -- Spectator
`Book of the Year', as chosen by Philip French. -- The Observer
`The only biog really worth it's salt this year...reliably
entertaining, wise and sane'
-- Catherine Shoard, Evening Standard
From Citizen Kane to Macbeth, the second volume of Simon Callow's brilliant, definitive biography of Orson Welles explores the beginning of the end of Welles' Hollywood career. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Outside of the movies Callow goes into detail (at times possibly too much for this reader) about Welles fledgling political career, but there are no complaints about how his theatre work, Around the World in 80 Days being a particular delight, is handled, or the roles in the Stranger and Journey into Fear, let alone his marriage to that mercurial beauty, Rita Hayworth and The Lady from Shanghi.
Callow takes us into the life of Welles, no one could take us into the man, where possibilities are endless and projects are begun and then discarded like broken Christmas toys. This is Welles large as life there on the page, it's a seminal work of a flawed genius; a man who time and again, ran from his pictures to let others complete what he started, sometimes because they gave him no choice and increasingly because he gave them none.
In short this is a fabulous continuation of what is becoming the definitive (there will be a third and final volume) Welles biography I couldn't recommend it to fans or lovers of film more highly.
Callow's book, a sequel to The Road to Xanadu, take a more balanced approach, portraying him as both a legitimate genius and simultaneously a man unable to work to either budgets or timescales. As Callow puts it 'he was not his own best friend'.
I've always been a massive fan of Welles work but Callow's detailed account of Welles failure to reign himself in long enough to rescue the Magnificent Ambersons is indicative that he was as much to blame as any studio for his failure to live up to his early promise.
Still, a great filmmaker and this is a great book which leaves you wondering how different things might have been had Welles never left the states for Brazil after completion of shooting on Ambersons....
The detail relating to the radio and political work are staggering, and give a whole new depth to Welles missing-from-cinema or theatre-focused works. This is brilliant and instructuve stuff, which frames the final conclusion of disillusionment with America.
I would like to have seen a wider context for his failure in Hollywood. As bad as it is, great directors and actors have presented wonderful bodies of work. Casablanca came out of the studio system, Hitchcock - often slyly derided herein - mastered and subverted it. Or Chaplin's success. Or countless others. Callow dwells on the failures of Laughton and Welles to fit in, and I find this unsatisfactory in a wider context. Lots of greats had their work butchered - the list is almost endless - and yet we dwell on Welles as if he was almost the only one. A reading of Welles along with Hitchcock, my favourite director, would be a great challenge - Suspicion, Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Notorious, The Paradine Case and Rope are an impressive body of work which Hitchcock made (as well as several WW2 propoganda films) during the period which this book covers; during the time, Welles made Ambersons, Journey into Fear, The Stranger,The Lady From Shanghai and Macbeth. Now, this is not Hitchcock's finest period of film-making but it is still pretty impressive - and within the studio system. It also features several films butchered and altered by the studios, including Suspicion, but also includes an impressive range of experimentalism, including Spellbound and Lifeboat. It might also be argued that Saboteur, often considered a minor work, is a more striking and effective venture than Journey Into Fear. Why Welles, who may have been a more dynamic and visionary director, didn't achieve in Hollywood what Hitchcock did is, for me, a fascinating matter.
I also found the book quite subjective and opinionated compared with Callow's first volume. The Road to Xanadu seemed more neutral, and all the better for it. My biggest criticism is that the book fails, in my opinion, to understand the psyche of Welles. A lot of the reportage is superficial and while Callow offers his opinions there is little beneath the surface that a bluffer's guide couldn't fill in about the man.
This was quite disappointing; the book provides a brilliant and illuminating chronology of the events in Welles' life, but doesn't really scratch below the surface - maybe that's too much to ask when Welles was so evasive and liberal with the "facts" of his life and career, but the same comments could be applied to this book, perhaps?
This is, overall, a brilliant book, that raises more questions about Welles than it answers. It will inspire you to watch all the films as Callow describes them (as I did, while reading the book) and it will inspire you to seek out everything else he has done. At the end of reading the book I watched an old Laserdisc of "F For Fake", which seemed to fit perfectly with the actor, writer, director, producer, set designer...everything, really, including magician. What a life, and we have to thank Simon Callow's two excellent volumes for introducing us to it. More, please, Mr. Callow, and more depth if you can. Callow's description of late masterpieces such as Touch of Evil, Chimas At Midnight and The Trial, along with more incomplete films such as Don Quixote, should be great stuff.