Orson Welles

  • Born: May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, WI
  • Died: October 10, 1985 in Los Angeles, CA
  • Notable Works: 
    • Citizen Kane (1941)
    • The Magnificent Ambersons (1943)
    • Touch of Evil (1958)
  • Academy Award Nominations:
    • 1942 Best Actor for Citizen Kane
    • 1942 Best Director for Citizen Kane
    • 1942 Best Original Screenplay for Citizen Kane (won)
    • 1971 Honorary Award (won)
  • Personal Favorite: The Lady from Shanghai (1948)

Orson Welles is one of the most revered moviemaking visionaries in history. He had to constantly fight back against the big studio systems that maintained full creative control in the Old Hollywood age. After two rejected proposals, RKO finally agreed to work with Welles on Citizen Kane. This controversial film featured a slightly fictitious version of New York newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst. Because of this thinly veiled portrayal, it was a struggle for Welles to finish and release Citizen Kane. Hearst’s papers put a ban on RKO advertisements and reviews and threatened to publish a series of editorials attacking Hollywood. This led to a group of Hollywood executives, including Louis B Mayer, to offer RKO $805,000 to destroy all prints and negatives of the film. After Welles offered RKO $1,000,000 to release the film himself, RKO finally followed through and released the film. The financial success of the film was stagnated by Hearst and lost money in most larger cities. Despite the rough start, Citizen Kane is now hallowed by many as the greatest film of all time. Welles continued to fight the system and pioneered the way for directors today, who possess most creative control in today’s production system. Welles became an influential figure in the film noir genre, with successes like The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai, The Third Man, and Touch of Evil.  He also brought several of his Shakespearean stage roles to the big screen, including Macbeth, King Lear, and Othello.

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