By Jason Clark
Updated April 30, 2015 at 10:22 PM EDT
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Orson Welles's Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind

type
  • Book
genre

Filmmaker Orson Welles blustered about a great many things—artistic control, casting, hell, even frozen peas. But in Josh Karp’s excellent new book, you get a sensitively rendered and panoramic depiction of that famous megalomania. Orson Welles’s Last Movie chronicles the disastrous making-of drama behind Welles’ Iranian-funded, still-unseen final film, The Other Side of the Wind, a deeply strange, supermeta project about a legendary closeted moviemaker’s 70th birthday party, which happens on the final day of his life. (Spooky: Welles himself, who many assumed was the basis for the lead character, also died at 70.) Welles is as ripe a subject as any to depict Hollywood hubris, but Karp’s lively tone keeps him on a balanced, human level. More than anything, Movie paints the Citizen Kane vanguard as something of a Gatsby desperately seeking his own Nick Carraway to understand his overactive mind. There’s no shortage of hilarious anecdotes here: Welles berating a PA for not getting sandwiches for the crew members so they could then work with one free hand; the actors questioning a note to dejectedly look down at their feet so Welles could add “midgets” to their scene later. But the most delicious irony of all might be that this tale of the ultimate movie gone wrong could make for a pretty wonderful movie. A–

MEMORABLE LINES

“There’s only one other thing I hate as much as [an actor praying on film] and that’s sex,” Welles said. “You just can’t get in bed or pray to God and convince me on the screen.”

Orson Welles's Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind

2015 book by Josh Karp
type
  • Book
genre
author
  • Josh Karp
publisher
  • St. Martin's Press

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