Orson Welles: Hello Americans

Overview

This second volume of Simon Callow's highly acclaimed biography of Orson Welles examines the years from Citizen Kane to Macbeth, in which Welles's Hollywood film career unraveled. In close and colorful detail, Callow offers a scrupulous analysis of the factors involved, revealing-the immense and sometimes self-defeating complexities of Welles's temperament as well as some of the monstrous personalities with whom be had to contend. The book also gives full weight to the almost bewildering range of Welles's ...
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Overview

This second volume of Simon Callow's highly acclaimed biography of Orson Welles examines the years from Citizen Kane to Macbeth, in which Welles's Hollywood film career unraveled. In close and colorful detail, Callow offers a scrupulous analysis of the factors involved, revealing-the immense and sometimes self-defeating complexities of Welles's temperament as well as some of the monstrous personalities with whom be had to contend. The book also gives full weight to the almost bewildering range of Welles's activities beyond Hollywood, including his serious but doomed efforts as a radio comedian and a stage magician, his attempts to revive spectacular theater single-handedly, and his political activities.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This scintillating follow-up to Callow's acclaimed The Road to Xanadu traces Welles's career from the triumphant premiere of Citizen Kane to his self-imposed exile to Europe in 1947. It was a pivotal period in the director's life, as his luster as Hollywood's boy wonder dimmed through a series of flawed-if intermittently brilliant-films, from The Magnificent Ambersons to MacBeth, that were snatched from his control and vandalized by frustrated studio executives. Eschewing the cliche of misunderstood genius persecuted by Tinseltown philistines, Callow assigns some of the blame to Welles's perpetual distraction with a plethora of projects (including a misbegotten scheme to become a radio comedian), the unfocused grandiosity of his artistic impulses and his directorial "strategy of simply shooting until the nature of the film finally declared itself." As he explores the tension between the director's compulsion to make art and Hollywood's need to run a business, the author interweaves fluent critiques of Welles's films and creative processes that are nuanced and perceptive. Callow's is a superbly written account of a magnetic personality and towering talent plagued by internal weaknesses and external friction, one that manages to shape the "Orsonic tornado" into an engrossing tragicomedy. (Aug. 21) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The overwhelming question actor/writer Callow tackles in this second volume of a three-part biography is: What went wrong after Citizen Kane? The simple version: the lucky streak that Welles rode through his sterling radio and stage dramas up to Kane's filming reversed, leaving a pox on everything thereafter. The complicated version: Welles needed complete command of his creations-impossible in the studio system-and while Kane wowed the critics, it lost money, and its production was so challenging that studio bosses tired of "the boy genius" and half-sabotaged his later films to rid themselves of him. Welles himself isn't blameless. He'd bring to a project a tornado of energy that quickly fizzled as his focus shifted; work was left unfinished. Callow details the production of The Magnificent Ambersons, Journey into Fear, The Lady from Shanghai, and The Stranger; Welles's incarnations as a radio personality and political orator; his journalism; and his championing of African Americans. Welles is complex, and Callow has come neither to praise nor to bury him, providing a balanced, well-crafted portrait that brings him to life-you can all but smell Orson's cigar smoke wafting off the pages. Destined to be the definitive word. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/06.]-Michael Rogers, Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“It is not only the best biography of Welles that we can possibly have, it is also one of the best biographies in any field I’ve read in years.”
–Roger Lewis, Sunday Express

“A vivid, sympathetic account . . . provides a definitive explanation of Welles’s ultimate, lingering downfall.”
Financial Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641855733
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/17/2006
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Callow is an actor, director and writer. He has appeared on stage and in many films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral. His books include Being an Actor; Shooting the Actor, and an acclaimed biography of Charles Laughton.

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Table of Contents


Illustrations     ix
Preface     xi
Tarzan Triumphs
Orson Ascendant     3
Pampered Youth     18
The Best Man in Hollywood     43
Carnival     57
Only Orson and God     78
Pomona     86
Turning a Bad Koerner     104
Four Men on a Raft     113
Look Who's Laughing     130
Plain Talk by the Man from Mars
Ceiling Unlimited     155
It All Comes Out of the Tent of Wonder     180
Unrehearsed Realities     201
Actor Turns Columnist     222
An Occasional Soapbox     252
Welleschmerz
The S. T. Ranger     265
Full, Complete and Unrestricted Authority     280
Wellesafloppin'     303
Officer X     323
If I Die Before I Wake     347
The Forces of Darkness     382
The Welles of Onlyness     402
The Charm's Wound Up     414
The Stage Productions     445
The Radio Broadcasts     447
The Films     457
The Writings     461
The Records     463
References     465
Bibliography     491
Acknowledgements     495
Index     499
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