Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios

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9781556526206: Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios

Revealing the facts rather than the myths behind Orson Welles' Hollywood career, this groundbreaking history analyzes the career of one of the most well-known American filmmakers. Exploring why Welles' films never matched his youthful masterpiece Citizen Kane, this investigation delves into the enemies that hounded him, his unwaning faith in his audience, and the brilliance of his films—before they were butchered by the studios. Based on shooting scripts, schedules, internal memos, interviews, articles, lectures, and personal correspondence, this work creates a concrete picture of his professional and artistic struggles and successes. This heartbreaking tale brings to life the intelligent, perceptive, and passionate man who, for all his failings as a person, was utterly uncompromising in his art.

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About the Author:

Clinton Heylin is the author of Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited, Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry, Can You Feel the Silence: Van Morrison, The Da Capo Book of Rock & Roll Writing, and No More Sad Refrains: The Life and Times of Sandy Denny.

From Publishers Weekly:

Using shooting scripts, shooting schedules, internal studio memos, private correspondence to and from Welles, and the director's interviews and public lectures, Heylin re-evaluates the circumstances under which Welles produced the six movies he made for Hollywood studios, from 1941's Citizen Kane through 1958's Touch of Evil. The depth of Heylin's research on Welles's consistent workaholic approach to his art, especially his examination of a 58-page memo Welles wrote to Universal after it dismantled Touch of Evil, aids Heylin in arguing against the claim put forth in other Welles bios that his work declined after Citizen Kane due to his own egotism and excess. Heylin's is the most well-researched and evenhanded refutation of this line of thought published to date, and shows in detail how Welles "was undone by real people, with real motives"—most notably Columbia studio head Harry Cohn, who cut The Lady from Shanghai from 155 to 86 minutes. Heylin (Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry; Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited; etc.) persuasively argues that Welles did indeed make masterpieces after Citizen Kane, but that audiences never got to see them because of continual intervention from Hollywood studio bosses who "had no idea what [Welles] was doing, and why he was taking so long to do it." 12 b&w photos. (Feb.)
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