978-0-87910-199-2 / 9780879101992

Orson Welles: A Biography


Publisher:Limelight Editions



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About the book:

While it is a shame that Orson Welles, great filmmaker and master raconteur, never wrote a full account of his life, this book is the next best thing to a Welles autobiography. Barbara Leaming's main sources are the hundreds of hours of interviews she conducted with Welles in the three years before his death. Though clearly biased toward its subject, this book benefits considerably from Welles's wit and charm, which can be felt in Leaming's summaries of the director's experiences and in the generous number of quotations from Welles himself. At Leaming's urging, and to the reader's great pleasure, Welles recounts the whole of his fascinating life, discussing his relationship with his parents and guardians; his early promise as a musical and artistic prodigy; his brilliant successes in the theater while still a teenager; his foundation--with John Houseman--of the Mercury theater; the legendary radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds; the triumph of Citizen Kane; the successful efforts of RKO studios to alter and crush the films he made after Kane; his friendship with Franklin Roosevelt; his marriage to Rita Hayworth and countless other affairs (including a rhapsody on Dolores del Rio's custom-made underwear, if that's your cup of tea); his relationship with Oja Kodar; and his later film career in America and Europe. An entertaining read that unfolds like a good novel, Orson Welles offers a perspective on the maestro's life that deserves to be compared to more recent biographies of Welles by Frank Brady, Simon Callow, and David Thomson, all of which have prejudices of their own. --Raphael Shargel

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