It's All True

Overview

How Paramount Pictures came to own It's All True is almost more interesting a story than what they've done with it as a DVD. One must first realize that Orson Welles never made (or proposed to make) a movie for Paramount -- ever. But in the late '60s, Paramount bought out Desilu (the studio formed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the early '50s as the production company for their series, I Love Lucy), and at the end of the 1950s, Desilu, flush with cash from that success plus their production of such sitcoms as ...
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Overview

How Paramount Pictures came to own It's All True is almost more interesting a story than what they've done with it as a DVD. One must first realize that Orson Welles never made (or proposed to make) a movie for Paramount -- ever. But in the late '60s, Paramount bought out Desilu (the studio formed by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the early '50s as the production company for their series, I Love Lucy), and at the end of the 1950s, Desilu, flush with cash from that success plus their production of such sitcoms as Make Room for Daddy, had taken possession of the RKO Radio Pictures studio and lot, and subsequently became the production company (as well as the production house for The Andy Griffith Show, etc.) behind The Untouchables, Star Trek, and Mission: Impossible -- all of which Paramount has turned into major feature films and/or film franchises. The rights to most of the RKO movies were retained by RKO-General Tire, until they were sold to Turner Entertainment, and later passed to Time Warner. But left at the studio, buried somewhere in whatever storage facilities there were, was this remnant of Orson Welles' work at RKO, now owned by Paramount. In 1941, amid the flurry of praise (and some scorn, mostly from Hearst-owned newspapers) surrounding the release of Citizen Kane, Welles set out to make a movie as far removed as possible from the stylized fiction of the rich and influential that Kane had been. He headed south of the border to produce a documentary about the true lives of ordinary people, in the tiny villages of Mexico. He was directing The Magnificent Ambersons and co-starring and producing Journey Into Fear when the United States entered World War II, which caused a major change in plans -- the State Department advised Welles and RKO that the government would need help in keeping the South American countries, most notably Brazil, on the Allied side. Toward that end, they sent Welles there as a special ambassador to make a documentary that would encourage tourism. The whole effort eventually unraveled amid tragedy and confusion -- and reports of Welles engaging in embarrassing behavior in public -- with RKO cutting off funding, the Brazilian government losing patience, and the State Department trying to sweep the whole affair under the rug. The remains of what he shot, variously in color and black-and-white, were left somewhere on the lot and found there in the late '80s and reassembled for this film, officially titled It's All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles, issued in 1993. The movie at hand -- though no one seems to want to admit it -- is the anatomy of a disaster. Welles' own self-serving comments ignore his own role in the unraveling of the effort -- and his involvement stemming, in part, from a desire to avoid being drafted -- and the makers seem unwilling to address this either, which results in a very strange viewing experience. Welles ends up being portrayed as an observer in the sometimes tragic events surrounding this chaotic production, which was all his work. The DVD adds no special features to the documentary, and treats it with barely adequate respect, its dozen chapters scarcely breaking down the complex and twisted narrative that led Welles to near-destruction professionally. The film-to-video transfer -- in full-frame (1.33:1), matching the shooting of the original material -- is clean and sharp. The footage shot by Welles and left on the RKO-Desilu-Paramount lot for 40 years is all fascinating, though the Technicolor footage is especially remarkable to see. The disc opens on a simple, straightforward menu with easy access to the material at hand.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; [None specified]
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Hastings
While the recollections of Orson Welles' 1942 goodwill expedition to South America are compelling, this documentary ultimately depends on the strength of the original footage of the director's never-completed work, which prefigures the atmospheric, naturalistic approach that Welles would later apply to Othello. With its extreme low-angle shots and reverent, beatific presentation of the Brazilian people, "Four Men" recalls the work of another propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl, in Olympia or Triumph of the Will. It's All True's reconstructing team fails Welles, however, with a tacked-on, cloying soundtrack; it's also doubtful that Welles and his crew would have edited the film as literally as the filmmakers have done. Still, as a record of the project that kept the director away from his final cut of The Magnificent Ambersons, It's All True is sure to satisfy Welles completists.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/30/2004
  • UPC: 097360504040
  • Original Release: 1993
  • Rating:

  • Source: Paramount
  • Region Code: 1
  • Time: 1:25:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Miguel Ferrer Voice Only
Orson Welles
Richard Wilson Interviewee
Elizabeth Wilson Interviewee
Grande Othelo Interviewee
Pery Ribeiro Interviewee
Joseph Biroc Voice Only
Edmar Morel Interviewee
Joachim Olimpio Meira Interviewee
Maria do Carlo de Souza Interviewee
Francisca Moreira da Silva Interviewee
Technical Credits
Bill Krohn Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Myron Meisel Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Richard Wilson Director, Producer, Screenwriter
Jorge Arriagada Score Composer
Georges Fanto Cinematographer
Gary Graver Cinematographer
Jennifer Hooper Editor
Regine Konckier Producer
Ed Marx Editor
Jean-Luc Ormieres Producer
Jean-Pierre Ruh Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Prologue [5:16]
2. My Friend Bonito [3:04]
3. Filming Carnival [7:09]
4. The Jangadeiro Story [8:47]
5. Filming "Four Men on a Raft" [8:09]
6. A Day of Fishing [10:06]
7. Love and Marriage [9:30]
8. The Funeral [5:19]
9. The Departure [7:29]
10. The Voyage [10:16]
11. Sailing Into Rio Harbor [3:43]
12. "Here Comes the Samba, Now!" [6:35]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play
   Set Up
      Subtitle Options: English
      Subtitle Options: None
   Scene Selection
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