Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
|George Orson Welles|
|Birthplace||Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.|
Actor, film director, theatre director, screenwriter, playwright, film producer, radio personality
Welles, Orson, 1915–85, American actor, director, and producer, b. Kenosha, Wis. From childhood he evinced a precocious talent and lofty sense of self-assurance in theatrical matters. He began acting in the theater during the early 1930s, and in 1937 directed several Federal Theatre productions and organized the Mercury Theatre company in New York. In 1938 a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, done in the style of a news broadcast, panicked a portion of the listening public and brought Welles national attention. He departed for Hollywood the following year. For RKO he cowrote, produced, directed, and starred in his first feature film, Citizen Kane (1941), considered by many to be the greatest film ever made. Welles brought technical brilliance, a precise sense of casting, and a complex narrative structure to bear on a teasingly ambiguous portrait of an American tycoon. He won an Academy Award for the screenplay, but never enjoyed such acclaim again.
After Citizen Kane Welles clashed constantly with studio chiefs and was never again able to exert such absolute artistic control or achieve such creative success. His other films include The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), Othello (1952), Mr. Arkadin (1955), Touch of Evil (1958; restored and reworked according to Welles's instructions, 1998), The Trial (1963), Chimes at Midnight (1966), and F for Fake (1973). His final film, the semiautobiographical The Other Side of the Wind, was unfinished for financial, legal, and other reasons, but was finally released in 2018. They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018), directed by Morgan Neville, details its making. Welles's booming voice and air of authority made him a popular film actor and occasional off-screen narrator; he appeared in Jane Eyre (1943), The Third Man (1949), Catch-22 (1970), Someone to Love (1987), and other films. From the 1970s he was a popular figure on television, in commercials and as a frequent guest and occasional host on talk shows.
See O. Welles et al., This Is Orson Welles (rev. ed. 1998); biographies by F. Brady (1989), C. Higham (1985), B. Leaming (1985), S. Callow (3 vol., 1996–), J. McBride (rev. ed. 1996), D. Thomson (1996), and P. McGilligan (2015); studies of his films by C. Higham (1970), P. Cowie (1972), H. James (1991), A. Bazin (1992), P. Conrad (2003), J. McBride (2006), J. Rosenbaum (2007), and J. Naremore (rev. ed. 2015); H. J. Mankiewicz and P. Kael, The Citizen Kane Book (1971); R. L. Carringer, The Making of Citizen Kane (1985); C. Heylin, Despite the System: Orson Welles versus the Hollywood Studios (2005); J. Karp, Orson Welles's Last Movie (2015); H. Lebo, Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey (2016); The Battle over Citizen Kane (documentary, 1995).
Born May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wis. American motion-picture producer, director, actor, and writer.
Welles began his theatrical career in Dublin in 1931 as an actor. Returning to the USA, he directed an innovative production of Macbeth in 1936 and presented a famed radio production of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds in 1938. Welles’ first film, Citizen Kane (1941; screenplay by Welles and H. Mankiewicz), in which Welles played the title role, became a landmark not only of American film art but of world film art as well. The theme of power and its destructive influence on the human personality was developed by Welles in other films, such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1948) and Mister Arkadin (1955; based on a novel by Welles); Welles directed both films and played the title roles. Attempting to resolve sociopolitical problems in such films as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942; based on a novel by B. Tarkington) and The Lady From Shanghai (1946; based on a novel by S. King), Welles encountered the opposition of Hollywood filmmakers and left the USA in the late 1940’s. Welles was unable to realize many of his creative projects because of financial difficulties.
Films directed by Welles include Shakespeare’s Othello (1952), Kafka’s The Trial (1962), and Chimes at Midnight (1966; based on Shakespeare’s plays, with Welles playing the role of Falstaff). Welles also appeared in the films The Third Man (1949; directed by C. Reed), Moby Dick (1956; directed by J. Huston), and Waterloo (1970; directed by S. F. Bondarchuk).
REFERENCESCowie, P. The Cinema of Orson Welles. London, 1965. (References, pp. 197–207.)
Orson Uells: Stat’i, Svidetel’stva, Interv’iu. Moscow, 1975.
IA. A. BEREZNITSKII