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Orson Welles: A Turbulent and Brilliant Life

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, September 21, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0288
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

Orson Welles, by Carl Van Vechten (Library of Congress)

He became a CBS radio star at age 20. He revolutionized New York theatre at 21 with his Haitian-themed WPA staging of Macbeth featuring an all-Black cast. He terrified Middle America with his legendary “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast at age 23. By 25 he was directing Citizen Kane in Hollywood. He was none other than Orson Welles (1915-1985), actor extraordinaire and visionary stage and screen director who remains one of the most maligned cineastes in history.

Welles was cursed with being ahead of his time. From his highbrow choices of subject matter to the rule-shattering filming and editing methods he used to visualize his challenging narratives, he was an outsider from the start—and Hollywood never forgave him for it.

According to film historian Max Alvarez, much has been made of Welles’s Hollywood downfall, but too little has been said of his undervalued and often extraordinary post-Kane cinematic achievements when he was perceived as an industry outcast and independent filmmaker.

From the bold film noir thrillers The Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil, to brilliantly economical adaptations of Shakespeare (Macbeth, Othello, Chimes at Midnight), Kafka (The Trial), and Isak Dinesen (The Immortal Story), the later film accomplishments of Orson Welles are still unjustly overlooked in his native country.

In a multimedia presentation, Alvarez presents selections and archival material from the work and life of this multi-faceted genius from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

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