Orson Welles’ unseen masterpiece set for release, an article from The Guardian…
An unfinished “masterpiece” filmed by Orson Welles nearly four decades ago is finally to reach the screen.
The Other Side of the Wind portrays the last hours of an aging film director. Welles is said to have told John Huston, who plays the lead role: “It’s about a bastard director… full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It’s about us, John.”
The unedited film has been hidden away in a vault until now amid doubts that it could ever be shown.
Rumors of its release have surfaced repeatedly since it was shot in 1972, but an ownership dispute has always scuppered any plans. However, a Los Angeles lawyer told the Observer last week that the film will finally be seen.
Kenneth Sidle, a lawyer involved in the dispute over rights to the film, said: “We are in negotiations for the picture, which would lead to the finishing and public exhibition. Hopefully within the next few weeks we will know.”
Sidle, of law firm Gipson Hoffman & Pancione, represents Jacqueline Boushehri, widow of a relative of the Shah of Iran and one of the film’s producers.
Also embroiled in the negotiations is Welles’s lover, Oja Kodar, a Croatian who starred in and co-wrote the film. Sidle confirmed that both are selling their interests in the film.
He added that would-be buyers have checked that he can complete the film: “They wouldn’t be putting up money if they weren’t confident.”
Huston’s actor son, Danny, describes the footage as “absolutely fascinating”. In 2005 he recalled that Welles had given extensive “editing notes” on the film to actor and director Peter Bogdanovich, who also appeared in the film.
Bogdanovich is understood to be involved in efforts finally to bring The Other Side of The Wind to the screen.
Françoise Widhoff, a producer who collaborated with Welles on his F for Fake, spent a month on set of the unedited film, which she described as a masterpiece – “the way it’s shot, the way it’s acted. It’s very modern and free.”
However, Widhoff has reservations about anyone editing the film; she says the raw footage should be seen.
Andrés Vicente Gómez, a Spanish film-maker who worked with Welles on various productions, including the unedited film, agreed that its completion would be an “act of betrayal”.
Describing it as Welles’s “testament”, he said: “The main character is a mix of [Ernest] Hemingway, Huston and himself… It was a film very close to him. But his physical condition was delicate. He didn’t have the energy to cut it.”
Very exciting; I’ve always wanted to see this one. Two fascinating sequences from the film can be seen in the Welles doc “One Man Band.”
I’d love to see 2 films come out of this …
an edited film based on Welles’ notes probably cut together by Walter Murch and Bogdanovich along with a companion film similar to that of Clouzot’s Inferno documentary that would showcase much of the raw footage. I’d pay to see that double billing.
maybe Jesús “Jess” Franco is available to help out with the editting!
hmmm… no mention of this yet on WELLESNET. I’ll believe it when I see it. Post any screenings here!
I hope they release this but certainly DON’T finish it…that’s a ghastly idea…
It would be very interesting to see. I wonder what Rosenbaum has to say about it.
Why is it such a bad idea to edit it together, Jaspar? Or do you mean they would need to shoot more footage?
Oja Kodar worked closely with Welles on the film. She could help with the editing.
⇧ SAUCY ⇩
This is pretty fucking exciting. I’ve been hoping for some kind of news to come on the release of this film for a long time now…
I don’t think putting the film together based on Welles’ notes would be a horrible idea (as I’d like to see it as a complete film). I quite enjoyed the new cut of TOUCH OF EVIL made based on his notes… and from what I remember, everything has been shot and most of it edited before Welles’ death.
If they simply edited what was there, yes…that’d be AWESOME! Certainly don’t complete it…that’s ridiculous.
Look what Pinter did with Fitzgerald’s THE LAST TYCOON. no need…let it be.
My sources tell me that Welles made a rough cut.
The Guardian story is full of inaccurate information.
There were sections of the film shown in a program of WELLES RARITIES in 2004, below are some notes I made about them:
Selected scenes from The Other Side Of The Wind, which
seems to have been the last film that Welles really worked on as a
director. They were incredible. Vivid and fresh and sharp, and
intensely exciting. The scenes seem to have been fully edited by
Welles, with sound and music and dialogue completed. The film seems
to center on a director who is working on his final film, and who
leaves the day’s shooting to go to a birthday party. The film cuts
back and forth between the film being shot and the events in the
director’s life. We saw one scene set at a screening, as a
prospective backer and the director’s longtime assistant watch some
early scenes. The backer is not impressed, and the assistant is
flattering up a storm, trying to get the backer to cough up some
apparently badly needed money. The film within the film is
entrancing, footage of a woman being pursued by a young man on a
motorcycle. It quickly becomes doubtful as to who is actually
pursuing whom, and there is a lot of fascinating play with mirrors
and reflective windows that recalled the shootout from The Lady From
Shanghai. As the scenes onscreen progress, we hear comments from the
backer commenting on them. I can’t hope to do it all justice, but it
was a dazzling scene, one of the most exciting pieces of filmmaking
I’ve seen in a while.
Next came a short scene at a party, where the director (played by
John Huston!!) fields some embarrassing questions, and this was
followed by an extended clip from the film within the film. It was
followed by more footage from the film within the film, of a sex
scene in a moving car between the woman and young man, being driven
through a rainstorm at night. The scene started out very slowly,
with the woman undressing the young man, and then undressing herself,
and then came some simulated sex that was very excitingly done, both
as a good piece of erotic art and as a piece of filmmaking. Next
came another scene from the film within the scene that was very
nearly unreadable, as it seemed to consist of a fantastic sexual
dream sequence, with comments from Huston’s character. Is he
directing the actors? Or commenting on the action as he watches it
at a screening? It was impossible to tell, but remarkable anyway.
Just saw this…
“As much as I hope to see The Other Side of the Wind finished, I was shocked to read the report in The London Observer about an imminent deal to finish the film, as I knew is was totally false. The article was so full of errors and false statements, as to be nothing less than a complete HOAX!
“Dalya Alberge’s report was a complete disgrace, as there was clearly no understanding of the true facts behind the situation. Apparently, The Observer and The Guardian no longer have any “fact checkers” on their staff, as this story is really quite preposterous.
“Sadly, I recently had to point out to an inept Guardian reporter that his story about Patti Smith winning a National Book Award for her “first Book,” Just Kids was totally absurd, as Patti Smith had her first book of poems published in 1972, and has had more than 20 books published since then, so it would seem rather strange for The Guardian to call Just Kids her first book. Likewise, it seems even stranger for The Observer to report that a deal is near for The Other Side of the Wind to be completed, when they should know that is clearly not the case.
“The Observer also couldn’t even find a picture of Orson Welles from the filming of OSOTW to run with their report, which included this fictitious caption: “The Other Side of the Wind portrays the last hours of film director Orson Welles.” Well, that is certainly news to me, as well as to Oja Kodar, who I called after reading the article that tells of her “selling her interest in the film” to confirm if it was actually true or not. This is something that Dalya Alberge obviously didn’t bother to do. While I didn’t hear back from Ms. Kodar, she has now already spoken out about the story, saying, “It is true that Jacqueline Boushehri, the wife of the Iranian producer and I are interested in the film being finally completed. But from Showtime we still have not received the details of a budget. Without it I won’t give the rights to anyone.” This echoes what Ms. Kodar told me, earlier, saying she would never sell the rights to OSOTW without the proper controls, saying it would be like pulling out her teeth.
“Wellesnet will certainly be among the first to know and report if and when The Other Side of the Wind is ever going to be finished and shown. Not the idiotic reporters at The Guardian and The Observer, who like Pauline Kael don’t bother to check their facts. Come to think of it, I believe that great Welles hack or scholar, depending on your view, Mr. David Thomson also writes for The Guardian. His latest piece of nonsense on Welles (in Sight and Sound), argues that Citizen Kane should not be considered the best movie in Sight and Sound’s upcoming 2012 poll of the greatest movies ever made.
“Like Mr. Thomson’s book, Rosebud, the story on OSOTW in The Observer has so many errors, I can only suggest that Dalya Alberge should be immediately fired, or at least reassigned to the fiction desk. Sadly, this ridiculous story was picked up by many entertainment websites, one who actually used the headline “The Other Side of the Wind to be finished in two weeks.” Now, while you can expect fake stories from a website, how do you justify reporters getting their facts so wrong from a major newspaper like The Observer?”
Good to know that the legal problems are finally out of the way.