Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios
Revealing the facts rather than the myths behind Orson Welles' Hollywood career, this groundbreaking history analyzes the career of one of the most well-known American filmmakers. Exploring why Welles' films never matched his youthful masterpiece Citizen Kane, this investigation delves into the enemies that hounded him, his unwaning faith in his audience, and the brilliance of his films—before they were butchered by the studios.
Based on shooting scripts, schedules, internal memos, interviews, articles, lectures, and personal correspondence, this work creates a concrete picture of his professional and artistic struggles and successes.
This heartbreaking tale brings to life the intelligent, perceptive, and passionate man who, for all his failings as a person, was utterly uncompromising in his art.
with nothing but darkness around her.” At this point we return to New York harbor. Marlow is musing about whether he should have told her the truth. The night closes in and the credits roll. Even Conrad might have been impressed. 01 (001-038) chapter 01 28 11/2/04 5:39 PM Page 28 ACT ONE: FAITH Where Welles was fully released from any textual reverence, selfimposed or otherwise, was in the prologue, through which he aimed to both introduce himself and lead the audience by its metaphorical
beginning of December. The new chain of executive command he now constructed was designed to leave him firmly at the helm, with his own assistant, J. J. Nolan, promoted to vice president in charge of the studio and a former independent producer and agent, Harry E. Edington, placed in charge of high-budget films. Both were entirely beholden to Schaefer for these heady new powers and were expected to toe the line accordingly. Now all that Schaefer required was for his independent production units
who had agreed to take the film then refused to screen it due to the climate of fear that continued to surround the film and its ostensible subject. The film’s one chance of taking on a second lease on life was if it grabbed one or more of the major categories at the Academy Awards for 1941. Citizen Kane was nominated in nine categories, with four personal nominations for Welles: best picture, actor, director, and screenplay; as well as cinematography, art direction, sound recording, editing, and
and scraping acquaintance with this royal personage and . . . he runs a factory where they turn out very expensive motion pictures . . . yet he is a man of simple tastes. Look at his movies and you’ll see what I mean. . . . But the champ has finally met his match. . . . The Bey himself [was recently] backed against the wall by an outlander, the merest female tourist . . . [and] she was heard speaking to the Bey of Beverly as follows, “Why don’t you make better pictures? . . . I think it’s 03
who was not only one of the chosen few who saw Welles’s original, but worked on the film score prior to the fateful preview screening and, when the film was butchered, had the integrity to demand his name be removed from the credits. His recollection of the “real” ending returns us to the still center of the story: After the car accident and George’s injury, the picture then goes to what we don’t really realize until the end has been once the home of the Ambersons. It is now a home for aged