An American director, or rather the best.
Born in an artistic family, Orson Welles quickly showed talent for acting, and after touring Europe, he went to Broadway, and among other things created a Macbeth with only black actors. After founding the Mercury Theatre, he made a series of radio shows, including the famous version of H.G.Wells' War of the Worlds, so realistic that it created a panic throughout the United States.
Quickly he was hired by Hollywood, with a golden contract, the best a director could have at the times, which said he had total control over his movies. With the Mercury Theatre, he made Citizen Kane, his masterpiece, in 1940. Then he went on to make another great movie, The Magnificent Ambersons. But before the film's release, he had to go away from Hollywood, and the movie was recut without Welles' knowing about it. That quite decreased the artistic quality of his work...
From then on he made great movies, but always complaining that he either couldn't get the final cut, or an acceptable budget... And he mostly couldn't work in Hollywood. The movies he made then are his three adaptation of Shakespeare's plays : Macbeth (1948), Othello (1952), and Chimes at Midnight (1965), a mixture of Henry IV and Henry V centered around Falstaff's character. His interpretations of Shakespeare were not made according to the British canon about the Bard, yet they are some of the most interesting ever put on film. He also made a couple of thrillers, The Lady from Shangai (1947), and Touch of Evil (1958). He also adapted Kafka's The Trial (1963).
Throughout his life, to keep making some money, he had to play in many movies in additions to the one he made - he played in all but The Magnificent Ambersons - and one of these roles was particularly great : he played Harry Lime in The Third Man. In this movie he wrote a famous tirade about the relationship between peace and art...
For those who see movies as an art form, Orson Welles is considered as one of the finest. Indeed he had a reputation for not being on schedule - but because he felt he had to make his movies perfect, and took the time to make them so. He took time editing the movies, as he thought that was one of the major aspects of Film making. He also filmed with a short focus (his movies were the firsts in which the ceiling was visible), used bizarre angles, and moved his camera with an impressive virtuosity.
The troubles he had finding financing for his movies, however, made him bitter about his art. His life is seen as an example of artistic genius destroyed by the philistines.