The Three Witches in Macbeth (1948, dir. Orson Welles) (via)
Orson Welles performing the “Broomstick Suspension” magic trick with Lucille Ball during the filming of the I Love Lucy episode, “Lucy Meets Orson Welles” (1956)
“I’ve never had a friend in my life who wanted to see a magic trick, you know. I don’t know anybody who wants to see a magic trick. So I do it professionally; it’s the only way I get to perform.
I went once to a birthday party for [MGM boss] Louis B. Mayer with a rabbit in my pocket which I was going to take out of his hat. On came Judy Garland and Danny Kaye and Danny Thomas and everybody you ever heard of and then Al Jolson sang for two hours and my rabbit was peeing all over me, you know. And the dawn was starting to rise over the Hillcrest Country Club as we said goodnight to Louis B. Mayer and nobody’d asked me to do a magic trick. So the rabbit and I went home.”
-Welles, in the 1982 documentary The Orson Welles Story
Orson Welles directs Anthony Perkins on the set of The Trial (1962) Photo by Nicolas Tikhomiroff (via)
Q. A critic who admires your work very much said that, in The Trial, you were repeating yourself…
Welles: Exactly, I repeated myself. I believe we do it all the time. We always take up certain elements again. How can it be avoided? An actor’s voice always has the same timbre and, consequently, he repeats himself. It is the same for a singer, a painter…There are always certain things that come back, for they are part of one’s personality, of one’s style. If these things didn’t come into play, a personality would be so complex that it would become impossible to identify it.
It is not my intention to repeat myself, but in my work there should certainly be references to what I have done in the past. Say what you will, but The Trial is the best film I ever made…I have never been so happy as when I made this film.”
-excerpted from Orson Welles: Interviews
Above: The partial set from Citizen Kane consists of a foreground doorway and the butler (Paul Stewart), while Kane (Orson Welles) stands on a distant soundstage floor.
Below: The final, deep-focus image was completed with a matte painting by Chesley Bonestell. The live-action elements of the doorway in the foreground and Kane in the background were optically composited with a painted hallway, columns, and floor. The distant reflection of Kane on the floor was painted as well.
Romy Schneider, Orson Welles, and Anthony Perkins on the set of The Trial (1962, dir. Orson Welles)
Photos by Nicolas Tikhomiroff.
Dean Martin performs at the Copa Room (1957). That’s Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Debbie Reynolds, & Jack Benny at the front table (click to enlarge) (via)
“In 1969, Orson Welles told me that he’d been backstage in his own Dean Martin Show dressing room when, before the taping, Dean knocked, then came in, drink in hand. ‘Hey Orson,’ he said, holding up his glass, ‘you want one of these before we…?’
Orson shook his head. ‘No, no, Dean, I’m fine, thanks.” Martin looked shocked. “You mean you’re gonna go out there alone?!” Welles roared with laughter when he told me the story. ‘Alone!’ he repeated loudly. ‘Isn’t that great!?’ Orson went on, ‘That’s the best definition of addiction I’ve ever heard.’”
-Peter Bogdanovich (via)
Top: Orson Welles & Ray Collins in Citizen Kane (1941, dir. Orson Welles); Bottom: Welles setting up the scene at the foot of the staircase
Q. What was the Hollywood reaction generally to [The Lady From Shanghai]?
Welles: Friends avoided me. Whenever it was mentioned, people would clear their throats and change the subject very quickly out of consideration for my feelings. I only found out that it was considered a good picture when I got to Europe. The first nice thing I ever heard about it from an American was from Truman Capote. One night in Sicily, he quoted whole pages of dialogue word for word.
Q. I guess that’s called being ahead of your time.
Welles: It’s called being in trouble.
-excerpted from This Is Orson Welles