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Orson Welles: The One Man Band Movie Review

film age welles’ kodar

For Orson Welles’ fans, this movie is a MUST. It opens with the credit “A Film Made Possible by Oja Kodar.” Kodar lived with Welles from the mid-'60s until his death at age 70 in 1985 and she appears with him in his swan song, Henry Jaglom's Someone to Love. As this documentary makes clear, Welles was constantly busy making movies during his last 20 years, even if none of his efforts saw the light of day until they were compiled for this documentary. Why are all of these projects unfinished? (The Merchant of Venice, for example, ends in the middle of Welles’ speech as Shylock when he ran out of film.) By age 50, Welles had lost none of his creative energy, but most of his patience with financing. He was always broke, but usually hustled sufficient funds to start filming. And then a film was stolen or another was tied up in legalities or he tried to raise completion money and an actor died. Welles was a renegade who did what he wanted to do and although he appreciated honors like Academy Awards and the AFI Life Achievement Award, he never became an industry type who talked the talk and walked the walk. Even in the age of the indie, he might well have had just as rough a time as he did during Hollywood's so-called Golden Age. Welles wanted to be the baby at every christening, the groom at every wedding, and the ONLY kid in the candy store. (He directs himself playing ALL the roles in Moby Dick in one film fragment.) Welles could always find world-class stars to play with him. In the late ‘60s, he worked with Laurence Harvey and Jeanne Moreau on The Deep, AKA Dead Reckoning. The surviving footage of haunting imagery tantalizes us in every way and Welles, Harvey, and Moreau have it all over Sam Neill, Billy Zane, and Nicole Kidman in Phillip Noyce's 1989 potboiler, Dead Calm. The treasure trove in Orson Welles: The One Man Band shows that even though his films remained incomplete, Welles’ own life was whole and complete, rich in activity, and filled with fun and friendship.

1995 90m/C GE SI FR Orson Welles, Oja Kodar; D: Vassili Silovic; W: Vassili Silovic, Roland Zag; C: Thomas Mauch; M: Simon Cloquet.

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