Any movie historian, film buff or hardcore fan is cognoscente of the colossal influence Orson Welles has cast over the evolution and development of filmmaking all over the world, though what of the man, what of the personality? ‘Larger than life’ is an understatement when describing Welles, whose vagabond life was almost as legendary as the films he made. This is a collection of Orson Welles interviews and other gems to put into perspective this unique force of nature.

This interview took place in 1974 on the Michael Parkinson TV show.

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”

Welles’ iconic scene in The Third Man (1949)

The great English director, Sir Carol Reed gave Welles free rein when it came to his dialog and the results produced one of the most memorable scenes in film history.

The Cathedral of Chartres, France: A scene from F for Fake (1973)

Possibly the purest Welles, as his voice takes one on an inner journey enmeshed in the haunting world of Chartres.

Probing Hamlet With Peter O’Toole

In October, 1963 on the British television program Monitor, hosted by Huw Wheldon, Orson Welles joined a round table with Peter O’Toole to discuss Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Also in the conversation was the respected Shakespearean actor Ernest Milton.

O’Toole, at the time of the taping of this program was appearing as Hamlet at the National Theatre, under the direction of Laurence Olivier.

Othello (1952)

What to do when there are no costumes because they have been impounded due to nonpayment?
Welles asked the hotel he was staying in if he could borrow all the bathroom towels transporting the murder scene of Roderigo to a Turkish bath.

Making Movies

When asked by a journalist what it takes to make films, compared to other art forms…
“A writer needs a pen, an artist needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army.”

Touch of Evil (1958)

A bad script from a bad novel, “Badge Of Evil” by Whit Masterson, and filming starts in 3 weeks.
Setting up shop in various Hollywood restaurants, among other places, Welles worked day and night transforming a “B” script into a noir tour de force film classic.

The Message

Welles the magician ruminates on his method as a storyteller and conjuror of memory.
“I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves.”

The Fountain of Youth (Orson Welles, 1958)

This truly is a gem, recently rediscovered, and an unique entry in Welles’ career for it marked the only time he wrote, directed, as well as narrated a dramatic piece for American television, and like everything else he created, it was innovative and vastly unlike anything that had ever appeared on television up until that time.

The Theater of Orson Welles by Simon Callow

Simon Callow gives an in depth lecture, closer to a “performance”, on Orson Welles in the theater. Welles was not only an innovator of film, but also of theater which influenced his film immeasurably. Simon Callow is an actor, writer and director, who has written three chronological books of biography on Orson Welles.

It must be noted that not only is his trilogy fantastic due to the subject matter, but also Simon Callow is a genuinely magnificent writer, almost unheard of regarding books about movie figures. It stands alone as a work of art.

“The good artist should be isolated. If he isn’t isolated something is wrong.”

Orson Welles accepted the 3rd AFI Life Achievement Award in 1975. By this point in his life Welles had been passed off as a relic of the past, a once great actor, writer and director whose light had faded. However, this thoughtful and heartfelt speech shows he still had more than most and was unwilling to accept that his day in the sun had past as any true Maverick would.

On the David Frost show Orson Welles discusses the nature of ‘cold reading’, a type of phony analysis used by many psychics and/or fortune tellers to trick their customers into thinking they indeed do have special powers, and how some can become so skilled at it that they actually trick themselves into believing they truly are psychic.

Orson Welles appeared on the Dick Cavett show in 1970. What is presented is only part of this interview.

In 1949 Welles appeared in Twentieth Century Fox’s Prince of Foxes as Cesare Borgia, the Italian nobleman whose fight for power was a major inspiration for The Prince by Machiavelli. This film is hardly a classic, though in this scene Welles gives an extraordinary performance exuding power and charisma.

Throughout most of his career he worked in inferior films as an actor so he could finance his film projects and no matter how average or out right bad a movie was he always brought a singular excitement to the role.

Interviewed in Paris in 1960 in his hotel room Welles covers a wide spectrum of interests and subjects with a classic flair that he brought to everything he did. He talks about acting, movies, himself and life in general. Welles spent almost his entire life on the move including his childhood and this vagabond existence brings partial light on what made him not simply a great artistic talent, but also a living breathing work of art and just maybe this is our great art form—human personality.

We apologize for the quality of this video, however, it is the only version of this particular interview we could find in its entirety.

On October 10, 1985 Welles appeared on the Merv Griffin Show for the last time. He died a few hours after the show at his home in Hollywood, making this interview his final words to the world.

From a 1938 Newsreel the young Orson Welles adresses the press regarding the infamous H.G. Wells The War of The Worlds radio broadcast.

Movie Trailers & Clips

Citizen Kane (1941)

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

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The Lady From Shanghai (1947)

Macbeth – Opening Scene (1948)

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Othello (1952)

The Confidential Report (1955)

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Touch of Evil (1958)

The Trial (1962)

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Chimes At Midnight (1965)

F For Fake (1973)

“You know, I always loved Hollywood. It was just never reciprocated.”