Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu

Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu

by Simon Callow
     
 

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Possibly only an actor and director as deeply familiar with the theater as Simon Callow, and as determined as he to capture the protean Welles whole, could have written this biography, of which The Road to Xanadu is the first volume. For here, brilliantly located in its historical and social setting, is the entire, magnificent, unbelievable story—the prodigious… See more details below

Overview

Possibly only an actor and director as deeply familiar with the theater as Simon Callow, and as determined as he to capture the protean Welles whole, could have written this biography, of which The Road to Xanadu is the first volume. For here, brilliantly located in its historical and social setting, is the entire, magnificent, unbelievable story—the prodigious childhood; the dynamic young man in New York, in some ways still a boy, in others a profound theatrical innovator; the fraught partnership with John Houseman; the groundbreaking triumphs of the Mercury Theatre (such as the all-black Macbeth and Welles's modern-dress Julius Caesar) and its disasters (equally fascinating); and finally Hollywood and Citizen Kane, even today regarded by many as the finest film ever made, the work of a twenty-three-year-old with no previous experience in the medium. Callow's lively account of the making of Kane is surely the best we are likely to have, as authoritative about the practical details of filmmaking and directing as about the odd creative relationship between Welles and writer Herman Mankiewicz. Written with verve and balanced affection, drawing upon an abundance of fresh research and hitherto unpublished material, The Road to Xanadu succeeds wonderfully in penetrating the smoke screen of legend Welles threw up around himself, to reveal a life that is even more extra-ordinary in fact. As a man and an artist, Orson Welles was outsize - vivid, energetic, unpredictable, and never less than entertaining. It is Simon Callow's achievement to have produced a book about him that is just the same.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Actor/director Callow (Being an Actor, St. Martin's, 1992) offers the first of two volumes on the life of Orson Welles, covering through the release of Citizen Kane. Callow's stated goal is to put Welles into the context of his times. He's also extremely skeptical at taking his self-promoting subject at his word, which places Callow at odds with previous Welles chroniclers Barbara Leaming (Orson Welles, Viking, 1985) and, to some extent, Peter Bogdanovich (This Is Orson Welles, LJ 11/15/92). This is by far the best-written and most balanced biography of the elusive Welles, though its massively detailed descriptions of his theater work will leave some readers behind (the author originally set out to cover only that aspect of Welles's career). Recommended for most film collections in public and academic libraries.-Thomas Wiener, editor, "Satelite DIRECT"
Booknews
A biography of the larger-than-life theater and movie actor, director, and producer, covering his prodigious childhood, his partnership with John Houseman, and his theatrical success and failures, and focusing on the making of Citizen Kane. Includes b&w photos, and listings of stage productions, radio broadcasts, and films. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780099462514
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/26/1996
Pages:
640
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.87(h) x 1.38(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
This riveting, revealing portrait of the legendary director and star is æunlikely to be surpassed.æ (Los Angeles Times Book Review) A wonderfully readable, sharp, shrewd and evenhanded biography... Callow is a witty and feeling biographer. (Chicago Tribune) Callow is in control all the way. (The New York Times Book Review, front page)"

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