Orson Wells: Hello Americans

Orson Wells: Hello Americans

by Simon Callow
     
 

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The first volume of Simon Callow's magisterial biography of Orson Welles was praised as a "splendidly entertaining, definitive work" by Entertainment Weekly. Now, this eagerly anticipated second volume examines the years following Citizen Kane up to the time of Macbeth, in which Welles's Hollywood film career unraveled. In close and colorful

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Overview

The first volume of Simon Callow's magisterial biography of Orson Welles was praised as a "splendidly entertaining, definitive work" by Entertainment Weekly. Now, this eagerly anticipated second volume examines the years following Citizen Kane up to the time of 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 he had to contend.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Animated by a brisk intelligence . . . He shapes and interprets his material and with panache places his story in rich context."
-The Atlantic Monthly

"Mr. Callow, a divine and witty actor, is also a gifted writer . . . the sparkling second volume is a rollercoaster."
-The Wall Street Journal

"Unfailingly intelligent and well written . . . Callow's portrait is so vivid and three- dimensional."
-Variety

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140275179
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/27/2007
Series:
Orson Welles Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
1,334,209
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.38(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

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