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Orson Welles' 'The Other Side of the Wind' May See The Light Of Day (Again)

by Kevin Jagernauth
January 24, 2011 3:12 AM
3 Comments
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They've been saying this for years, so while we're excited, we're also cautious, but according to the Guardian a deal for Orson Welles' lost film "The Other Side Of The Wind" may be hashed out in a matter of weeks leading to a proper release for the film.

Welles started shooting the film in 1972 with John Huston as the star, but not only did the stentorian-voiced director suffer from perennial completion anxiety, he also usually ailed from lack of funds which was also the case here. About an aged Hollywood director (Huston) attempting to revive his career by making a trippy movie filled with sex and violence, Welles worked on the picture piece-meal for five years, shooting various scenes whenever he could scrape together a few dollars (the film also starred Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg and had appearances by Dennis Hopper, Paul Mazursky, Henry Jaglom and Claude Chabrol). As the story goes, he never completed the film, and after his 1985 death the project lay tangled in familial lawsuits, but perhaps there is a now a light at the end of the tunnel?

"We are in negotiations for the picture, which would lead to the finishing and public exhibition. Hopefully within the next few weeks we will know," says Kenneth Sidle, a lawyer involved in the dispute over rights to the film, representing Jacqueline Boushehri, widow of a relative of the Shah of Iran and one of the film's producers (yes, Welles got funding from some imaginative places). Oja Kodar, Welles' lover, also has a stake in the rights but apparently both sides are now willing to sell the rights.

Bear in mind that if a deal goes through (and "if" is the operative word here), it just means that access will now be granted to the negatives sitting in Paris lab but even then, how it will be released remains an issue. Apparently, Peter Bogdanovich -- who has long sought to complete the picture -- has extensive editing notes from Welles for the film, however, some feel even trying to finish it is a futile endeavor. Producer Françoise Widhoff, who worked with Welles on "F For Fake" says the raw footage should be seen, but not edited while filmmaker and Welles collaborator Andrés Vicente Gómez says it would be an "act of betrayal" to complete the movie.

For us, we're dying of curiosity to see "The Other Side Of The Wind" and we'll take it in whatever form it comes in at this point. And while this is potentially great news, we're still crossing our fingers that the excised footage from "The Magnificent Ambersons" will miraculously show up somewhere.

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3 Comments

  • Flitcraft | January 25, 2011 2:30 AMReply

    @ Roark --

    You're exactly right; and the problem went further back than the latter part of his career -- to the '40s. It's his producers that had (to give a different sense to the term) "completion anxiety": they were usually very anxious for him not to complete anything.

  • Roark | January 24, 2011 5:10 AMReply

    The idea of Welles "completion anxiety" is a myth that haunted the man throughout the latter years of his career. Disappointing to see The Playlist perpetuating it here, when it has been debunked by, among others, your fellow Indiewire blogger Peter Bogdanovich. The lack of funds (among many, many other things Welles had little to no control over) had far more to do with his inability to finish several projects than did some nonsense psychological condition.

  • Bob Bencivenga | January 24, 2011 4:47 AMReply

    If The Other Side of the Windmhad ever been completed by Welles perhaps editing would make sense as in the case of Touch of Evil. But at least the footage was shot and could be re-edited with W

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