‘Ben Walter’s excellent Orson Welles is a tightly written biography filled with intelligent insight and salient quotes.’
Orson Welles (1915-1985) was the boy wonder who electrified Broadway at 21, terrified America with his War of the Worlds radio broadcast and then, aged 25, upended Hollywood by making Citizen Kane, still widely regarded as the cinema’s greatest achievement.
But by the time his follow-up, The Magnificent Ambersons, was released in a version maimed by the studio, Welle’s reputation had sunk as low as it had once soared high. For the rest of his life he obstinately battled to express his unique genius on his own terms, struggling to create ambitious stage productions, revolutionary but little-seen television work and such films as The Lady from Shanghai, Touch of Evil, and F for Fake.
Welles never bowed to circumstance. His remarkable life remains and inspiration and a cautionary tale.
BEN WALTERS is the author of the BFT TV Classic on The Office (2005). He writes on film, television and radio for Sight and Sound and other publications.