Orson Welles: Hello Americans

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Jonathan Cape, Jan 1, 2006 - Actors - 507 pages
2 Reviews
The reason for the decline of Orson Welless career is a hotly debated issue, but decline it certainly did. When Citizen Kane, his first film, opened in 1941, Welles was universally acclaimed as the most audacious filmmaker alive. But instead of marking the beginning of a triumphant career in Hollywood, the film still regularly voted the greatest ever made proved to be an exception in Welless life and work. He found it increasingly impossible to function within Hollywoods system. Project after project foundered, either abandoned incomplete as with his ambitious Brazilian epic It's All True or, as in the case of virtually every other film he made in America, being released in very different form from the one he intended. Finally, in 1947, he left America for Europe where for the best part of twenty years he lived in self-imposed exile, occasionally and briefly returning to stage a play, make a film or shoot a television drama. In close and colourful detail, HELLO AMERICANS examines the years from Citizen Kane to Macbeth in which Welless Hollywood film career came apart. It offers a scrupulous analysis of the factors involved, revealing the immense and sometimes self-defeating complexities of Welless temperament as well as some of the monstrous personalities with whom he had to contend. At the same time, the book gives full weight to the almost bewildering range of his activities beyond Hollywood: his serious but doomed attempts to be a radio comedian and stage magician, his flamboyant and financially disastrous endeavour to revive spectacular theatre single-handedly, his newspaper columns, the political activities into which he so passionately flung himself. And of course the films, as fascinating as they were flawed: The Magnificent Ambersons, Journey Into Fear, The Stranger, The Lady From Shanghai. The thread that runs through this apparently incoherent blur of activity is an often frustrated engagement with his native land, its faults, its dreams, its popular arts, its history. But by 1947, he had said all that he had to say to his fellow citizens; it was Goodbye Americans for two decades of endlessly experimental and innovative but essentially European work.

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User Review  - RDHawk6886 - LibraryThing

Similar to the 1st book, perhaps slightly more accessible. Again, an undeniably well researched book. The book's center seems to lie in a subjective critique of Welles' life. For my tastes, there was ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bunuel - LibraryThing

awesome cover photo of the "giant boy," as he was called in south america. callow is a meticulous biographer Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Simon Callow is an actor, director and writer. He has appeared on stage and in many films, includingFour Weddings and a Funeral. His books includeBeing an Actor;Shooting the Actor, and an acclaimed biography of Charles Laughton.

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