What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?
A Portrait of an Independent Career
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
In this intimate and often surprising personal portrait, Joseph McBride challenges the conventional wisdom that Welles's career after Citizen Kane, widely regarded as the greatest film ever made, fell into a long decline. The author shows instead how Welles never stopped directing radical, adventurous films and was always breaking new artistic ground as a filmmaker. McBride is the first author to provide a comprehensive examination of the films of Welles's artistically rich yet widely misunderstood later period in the United States (1970–1985), when McBride knew the director and worked with him as an actor. To put Welles's later years into context, the author reexamines the filmmaker's entire life and career. This newly updated edition rounds out the story with a final chapter analyzing The Other Side of the Wind, finally completed in 2018—Welles's personal testament on filmmaking—and his rediscovered 1938 film, Too Much Johnson. McBride offers many fresh insights into the collapse of Welles's Hollywood career in the 1940s, his subsequent political blacklisting, and his long period of European exile.
An enlightening and entertaining look at Welles's brilliant and enigmatic career as a filmmaker, What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? serves as a major reinterpretation of Welles's life and work. McBride's revealing portrait of this great artist changes the framework for how Orson Welles is understood as a man, an actor, a political figure, and a filmmaker.
Introduction: "The High Priest of the Cinema"
"God How They'll Love Me When I'm Dead!"
Orson Welles at Large
"Twilight in the Smog"
"Your Friendly Neighborhood Grocery Store"
"No Wine Before Its Time"
There has been so much written and said about Orson Welles over the years, and quite a bit of it has been fixated on the myth of his self-destruction at the expense of everything else: Welles has become the epitome of fallen genius, our fallen genius. Joseph McBride, who has a clearer understanding of Welles and his films than almost anyone, exposes that idea as the myth it is and always has been.~Martin Scorsese
As with the invaluable accounts of Dickens written during Dickens' lifetime, McBride has charted a course through the smoke for all future scholarship (and, one prays, film restoration). Twenty-first century Welles research begins here.~Jonathan Lethem