[FILM] ‘The Stranger’, Directed by Orson Welles, 1946

Set in Connecticut after World War II, The Stranger is a cat and mouse game between Wilson (Edward G. Robinson), a member of the Allied War Crimes Commission and Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a Nazi who has assumed the false identity of Dr. Charles Rankin. To complete his new intelligentsia disguise, Kindler marries Mary Longstreet, daughter of a Supreme Court justice.

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Run time 95 min Read the rest of this entry »


Danish poster for ‘Citizen Kane’, 1946 (Orson Welles, USA, 1941)

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1946 Danish poster for CITIZEN KANE (Orson Welles, USA, 1941)

Artist: unknown

Poster source: Posteritati

The Danish title translates as “The Big Man.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Focal Lengths and Lenses used by Great Directors 

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Orson Welles by Daniel Clowes

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Deauville Fest Pays Tribute To Orson Welles

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PARIS –  reports: Deauville American film festival will pay homage to Orson Welles to mark the centenary of his birth during its upcoming 41st edition.

As part of the tribute to Welles, three of his cult movies will be screened: Citizen Kane,” “The Lady from Shanghai” and “Touch of Evil.” The documentary feature “This Is Orson Welles” by Clara and Julia Kuperberg, which is produced by TCM Cinema and Wichita Films, will also play.

Deauville described Welles as an “enduring legend of world cinema, who at an early age reinvented the grammar of his art with his masterpiece Citizen Kane. Read the rest of this entry »


[POSTER] Japan: ‘Touch of Evil’

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Critic’s Notebook: Todd McCarthy Reflects on the Film Career of Mike Nichols

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Todd McCarthy writes: Mike Nichols is such a great talker, my first desire after reading The Hollywood Reporter’s current skipping-stone account of his theatrical directing career is to buy his own 20-disc recording of the autobiography he unfortunately hasn’t written yet.

My second desire is to see Death of a Salesman before it closes.

My third is to know: Who is Mike Nichols?

As Meryl Streep attests, he always is “the smartest and most brilliant person in the room.” I spent a couple of hours with him many years ago, a memorable encounter that directly led to my first job in Hollywood — as assistant to his former partner, Elaine May. At the time, Nichols was preparing to direct the film version of The Last Tycoon, a project that eventually passed to his self-proclaimed idol, Elia Kazan, while Nichols moved on to The Fortune. This sequence of events didn’t work out well for either of them; it was the end for Kazan, and Nichols didn’t direct another dramatic feature for nearly a decade.

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Nichols’ best films, in order:

ANGELS IN AMERICA (2003) Nichols’ distinct talents for stage and screen merge perfectly in this superlative adaptation of one of the great American epic plays. Jeffrey Wright and Al Pacino are out of this world in it.

CARNAL KNOWLEDGE (1971) With a terrific Jules Feiffer script (originally written as a play) and a bold visual style, this bracing study of men’s attitudes toward women is probably the director’s most probing, self-revelatory film.

THE GRADUATE (1967) Still funny and sharp-edged after all these years, it’s one of the great zeitgeist films of the ‘60s or any other era, caricatured, perhaps, but with truth and insight to support it. Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft are simply sensational.

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) Richard Burton remains the standout in Nichols’ vibrant and vital adaptation of one of the seminal American plays, with Haskell Wexler’s mobile, unflattering black-and-white cinematography still a marvel.

WORKING GIRL (1988) This key female empowerment comedy is sheer enjoyment, plain and simple, with Nichols displaying his great skill with actors by making everyone in the variously talented cast look equally good.

And therein lies the first mystery. Why did this golden boy, who had conquered improv, recording, cabaret and Broadway by his early 30s, won an Oscar for his second film and batted .750 in his first four times up to the plate — with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge all going for extra bases while Catch-22 was a deep fly out to left — suddenly flatline, lose “The Knack” (also the title of a play he successfully directed in the early 1960s) and retreat to Broadway? Read the rest of this entry »


Film Review: ‘Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles’

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Disturbing Aliens, Some From Space: Remembering ‘War of the Worlds’

Orson Welles in 1938, rehearsing for “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” the radio show behind his “War of the Worlds” broadcast that same year.

Orson Welles in 1938, rehearsing for “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” the radio show behind his “War of the Worlds” broadcast that same year.

Dave Kehr writes: It was all Nelson Eddy’s fault. Seventy-five years ago, at 8 o’clock on the evening of Oct. 30, 1938, millions of Americans tuned in their radios to listen to NBC’s “Chase and Sanborn Hour,” a popular variety show starring the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy. When Bergen and McCarthy finished their first sketch — a routine about trick-or-treating — the announcer passed the microphone to Eddy, a booming baritone then starring with Jeanette MacDonald in a series of MGM operettas.

But when Eddy went into a thumping martial tune, “Song of the Vagabonds,” some of those millions went station surfing, and turned the dial to NBC’s less popular rival CBS just in time to hear a dance program interrupted by a special news bulletin. A Chicago astronomer had reported observing “several explosions of incandescent gas” on the planet Mars. Mysterious objects were moving toward Earth, “at enormous velocity.” A huge flaming object, believed to be a meteorite, had crashed into a farm near Grover’s Mill, N.J., 22 miles from Trenton.

Read the rest of this entry »


The War of the Worlds and the Myth of Mass Panic

 writes:  Next week will mark the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds, a radio drama that is often accused of provoking a mass panic. (In fact, the panic was a myth.) Big Picture Science, a public radio show sponsored by the SETI Institute — yes, that SETI Institute — just devoted an hour to Welles’ show, and I was one of the guests.

You can listen to the episode here. First Michael Socolow does an excellent job of debunking the story of the mass panic, and then I put the legend into a larger historical context. Then Kevin Schindler talks about the idea of life on Mars, and then Katy Culver discusses misinformation in social media today. Clips from Welles’ broadcast appear throughout the program, but if you’ve never heard the whole play, I recommend it highly; you can download it here.

Bonus links: The radio play later inspired a strange Superman comic, and the original H.G. Wells novel later inspired a bad disco record.

Hit & Run : Reason.com