"I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won't contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That's what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act." - Orson Welles

1915-85 American Actor, Movie Director, Writer, Producer, Editor, Cinematographer, Production Designer, Costume Designer, Art Director and master of voice acting

Early in his career, he was the personification of the auteur theory which holds that the Director should be given absolute power in the making of a film. That was how he wanted his contracts written.

He and John Houseman opened Phoenix Theatre Group and the Federal Theater Project. The two of them then founded the Mercury Theatre. He was the voice during the broadcast of a dramatization of H G Wells's The War of the Worlds, radio version, so realistic in conveying a Martian invasion that it led to actual panic throughout America.

His greatest film was no doubt Citizen Kane. It was made with the funding of RKO Pictures. It made use of radical lighting and camera angles. The lighting was stark with some characters, particularly the reporters in silhouette. They went so far as to cut through the wood floor so they could position the cameras at mouse eye perspective. It was the story of millionaire William Randolph Hearst the yellow journalism magnate.

The film (also known as RKO 281) was vehemently opposed by Hearst who did everything he could to block its release. Hollywood moguls, such as Louis B. Mayer allied themselves with Hearst, fearing his media empire's wrath on their industry. First they attempted to buy the film outright, so they could destroy it. After that failed they booked all the theatres in the country with other films to block its showing. In some cities the film had to be shown in a tent, outside. However all this effort couldn't stop it from being critically acclaimed, and ultimately becoming "the greatest movie of all time". The campaign did end up causing great financial hardship to RKO who never returned to the level of success they had before the Hearst attack.

Films he made include:

Other important nodes on Welles:

He was married to Rita Hayworth from 1943 -1948

He received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1984 the Directors Guild of America awarded him its highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award.

He ultimately Ended Career Doing TV Commercials for Gallo Wine and Jolly Green Giant Frozen Peas...


Sources: http://www.bway.net/~nipper/home.html http://www.transparencynow.com/welles.htm Last Updated 04.15.04

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.

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