☞ The YouTube description for the clip from Tim Burton‘s Ed Wood (1994) indicates that the meeting was between “the world’s greatest filmmaker and the world’s worst filmmaker.” I won’t quarrel with the description of Welles as “the greatest filmmaker”; if he’s not the greatest in everyone’s estimate, he’s up there, among the greatest who’d ever lived. But Ed Wood as “the world’s worst filmmaker” (even though he’s frequently accorded this accolade)? The trouble with Wood is that, his exploration of cinematic badness is so consistent and determined that one wonders about the genuineness of the badness of his movies.
The meeting, as it is depicted above in Tim Burton’s movie, is interesting in the enunciation of the common ground between Wood (Johnny Depp) and Welles (Vincent D’Onofrio) — at least as it was seen from Burton’s perspective, or the perspective of the writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who conceived the movie. In the clip, both Wood and Welles decry the studio control over the films of that time. As we know, Wood’s resort was a complete capitulation from the studio system by making B movies. Welles tried to work within the system, but at arm’s length from its limitations, not always successfully: arguably, less successfully in his subsequent films than in Citizen Kane, where there was no studio control (also mentioned in the clip). Interesting mention by Welles in the clip on the studio’s decision to have Charlton Heston as a Mexican in Touch of Evil: surely a bad decision, with respect to viewers of that time, who knew who Heston was, and would find it hard to associate him with the role he played in the film.