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With Orson Welles: Stories from a Life in Film (1990)

A two-and-a-half hour documentary retrospective on the career of Orson Welles.


Leslie Megahey


Leslie Megahey


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Credited cast:
Peter Bogdanovich ... Himself
Charlton Heston ... Himself
Jeanne Moreau ... Herself
Anthony Perkins ... Himself
Orson Welles ... Himself (archive footage)
Robert Wise ... Himself


A two-and-a-half hour documentary retrospective on the career of Orson Welles.

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Release Date:

5 February 1990 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Features Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly charming and insightful
15 July 2005 | by x1nd0lentSee all my reviews

I saw this film on television in the late 1980's, probably on A&E if I recall correctly. In fact, I am fairly certain that the full title was "With Orson Welles: Stories from a Life in Film". It was made by Peter Bogdanovich a few years prior to being released, and is now quite scarce. Indeed, there is little information about this documentary on the web, and it appears to not yet be released on tape or DVD. I had taped it on my first viewing and enjoyed seeing it subsequently, although my taped copy was lost in the 1990's.

Basically, this film is an interview with Welles conducted by Bogdanovich, with additional background narration over key clips from Welles' work, and rare still photos of his theatrical productions. Also, precious interviews with actors and friends of Welles provide quite a bit of perspective on the events being covered, at times providing comments which Orson was being too tactful to state himself. The documentary is long, but paced well and quite engaging.

The legacy of Orson Welles' work is curious; beginning with inspired interpretations for radio and theater, to being instantly regarded as one of the best directors of film in history - to being shut out of Hollywood, relegated to voice-overs and odd cameos. It should be no secret that Hollywood can be a difficult place for a person with much artistic integrity. To his credit, Welles knew that his vision was not appreciated by the studios of his day, so he had as much fun with his alienation from that system as possible. Rather than wade through endless academic debates of how creative he really was/wasn't, it is wonderful to finally hear Welles' sides of these many stories. This film is as much a biography as it is about creative output. Rather than focus in the legendary success of Citizen Kane, there is coverage of Welles' bluffing his way into theater, his Mercury Theater, his first studio-backed films, his more independently financed and shot period in Europe, right through to the ingenious and witty "F for Fake" - as well as his several unfinished projects.

The interviews with Bogdanovich, Jean Moreau, Anthony Perkins, Charleton Heston, Robert Wise, and others are excellent glimpses to Orson Welles' personality and creative processes. Also wonderful is getting to finally hear a master storyteller tell his own story.

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