Orson Welles, Shakespeare, and Popular Culture

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New York 1998 Trade paperback New. Book Appears Unread Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 216 p. Contains: Illustrations, black & white. Film and Culture (Paperback). ... Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

From the earliest days of radio to the golden age of television and beyond, Orson Welles has occupied a unique place in American culture. In Orson Welles, Shakespeare, and Popular Culture, Michael Anderegg considers Welles's influence as an interpreter of Shakespeare for twentieth-century American popular audiences. Exploring his works on stage, radio, and in film, Anderegg reveals Welles's unique position as an artist of both high and popular culture. At once intellectually respected and commercially viable, the Shakespeare Welles gave the American public reflects his unique genius as a writer, director, and actor.

From early plays in school to the Everybody's Shakespeare books and the Mercury Text Records adaptations, Anderegg illustrates how Welles tried to transcend the barriers between the classical and the popular. He argues that "Welles the Shakespearean" sought to be a restorer as well as an innovator by drawing on his knowledge of the abundant, lowbrow popularity of Shakespeare in nineteenth-century America. Welles's three film adaptations of Shakespeare, Macbeth, Othello, and Chimes at Midnight, are examined. From his peculiarly "Scottish" version of Macbeth, to his postmodern reading of the history plays in Chimes at Midnight, Welles's interpretive strategies--and the public's reception of them--are considered. In the final chapter, Anderegg surveys Welles's work as an actor--his legacy and myth--and reexamines the common view that he squandered his talents in the era after Citizen Kane. Taking into account his non-Shakespearean roles, Anderegg shows Welles to have been a markedly "Shakespearean" actor and, in his versions of the Bard's plays, a key arbiter of culture.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Michigan Quarterly Review
Andregg provides an eloquent illustration of how, when Welles scholarship is at its best, it avoids the biographical and panoramic in favor of a particular theme or angle of investigation and, in the course of pursuing that angle, brings a fresh understanding to the Wellesian tapestry as a whole.

— Catherine Benamou

Michigan Quarterly Review - Catherine Benamou

Andregg provides an eloquent illustration of how, when Welles scholarship is at its best, it avoids the biographical and panoramic in favor of a particular theme or angle of investigation and, in the course of pursuing that angle, brings a fresh understanding to the Wellesian tapestry as a whole.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

A valuable and much-needed contribution to Welles studies. Anderegg's book represents for me an important intervention that throws light not only on certain neglected aspects of Welles's work -- particullarly Everybody's Shakespeare and the Mercury Text Records -- but also on a fresh new approach toward understanding his career as a whole.

James Naremore
Anderegg's approach is original and illuminating, offering a good deal of new information and intelligent commentary on materials that other critics and biographies have barely noticed. He is dead-on accurate in his understanding of Welles's art and significance. No other writer has made so many interesting comments of Welles's celebrity persona and acting style.
Jonathan Rosenbaum
A valuable and much-needed contribution to Welles studies. Anderegg's book represents for me an important intervention that throws light not only on certain neglected aspects of Welles's work -particullarly Everybody's Shakespeare and the Mercury Text Records -but also on a fresh new approach toward understanding his career as a whole.
Catherine Benamou
Andregg provides an eloquent illustration of how, when Welles scholarship is at its best, it avoids the biographical and panoramic in favor of a particular theme or angle of investigation and, in the course of pursuing that angle, brings a fresh understanding to the Wellesian tapestry as a whole.
Richard Burt
On 15 October 1956 theI Love Lucy show aired an episode guest-starring Orson Welles....Welles's appearance in this bizarre episode of a popular television situation comedy is Michael Anderegg's point of departure in his fine, extremely well-written, compact contribution to Shakespeare and film studies....Anderegg proceeds to make clear Welles's centrality to any history of Shakespeare and film: he begins with two illuminating chapters focused on Welles' s theatrical background and his production ofEverybody's Shakespeare (Mercury Text Records....In his fascinating last chapter (the best, in my view Anderegg compares Welles to Brecht and focuses on Welles'sauteur status in relation to his star qualities....Anderegg does not generally aim to produce 'new readings of Welles's Shakespearean films' but 'to place each film within a larger contextual field and to suggest the extent to which the meaning and significance of each are intimately tied to the circumstances in which it was produced, distributed, exhibited, and received' (73. And here Anderegg succeeds admirably, providing much new and very interesting information about the films' reception....Anyone interested in Shakespeare and American film will find this book extremely useful....I very much enjoyed readinngOrson Welles, Shakespeare, and Popular Culture, and I strongly recommend it. It's a wonderful book.
Booknews
Anderegg (English, U. of North Dakota) discusses Welles as having occupied during his career a unique position bridging high and popular culture. He traces Welles's relationship with Shakespeare through radio, stage, and film adaptations, discussing what Welles's approach to the works reveals about their relationship with the American public, and also what his Shakespearean interpretations reveal about the remainder of his career. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231112291
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 11/24/1998
  • Series: Film and Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Anderegg is professor of English at the University of North Dakota. He is the editor of Inventing Vietnam: The War in Film and Television, and author of David Lean and William Wyler.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

1. Shakespeare in Las Vegas: Welles and American Culture2. "Raise Hell with Everything": Shakespeare as Event3. "Cashing in on the Classics": Everybody's Shakespeare and the Mercury Text Records4. Welles/Shakespeare/Film: An Overview5. Shakespeare Rides Again: The Republic Macbeth6. The Texts of Othello7. Chimes at Midnight: Rhetoric and History8. Welles as Performer: From Shakespeare to BrechtEpilogue

Columbia University Press

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