Tag Archives: studio system

Ed Wood Jr Discusses Filmmaking with Orson Welles

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☞ 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.

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Filmmaking Genius Orson Welles | Kevin Holmes | Original Creators

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Citizen Kane is frequently praised, and justifiably so. Its artistry, and its unusual independence from the studio system of the time have been mentioned often. This short article also brings attention to one of Welles’ lesser known late works, the semi-documentary F for Fake (1973), which brings to the fore one of Welles’ major concerns: the line between truth and fictionality.

Citizen Kane: “As well as its visual artistry, the film was narratively unconventional with a non-linear story and was also notable for bucking the trend of the studio system of the time. Instead of being controlled by this system, which was at its zenith, Citizen Kane was made with complete freedom so Welles and his collaborators were allowed to do whatever they liked—which was unprecedented.

They also harnessed the technological achievements and breakthroughs of the time to create a truly cutting-edge piece of filmmaking. To add to all these manifold glories it’s entertainment as high art, an art film that has mass appeal with a gripping populist story—one which follows the scandalous life of media mogul Charles Foster Kane (inspired by William Randolph Hearst)—and comes complete with a great twist ending, ticking all the boxes you need, thus confirming its inclusion in film studies classes ever since.”

❦ “Another of his projects which revealed his mischievous side was his sort-of-documentary F for Fake (1973), which focuses on the story of art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer Clifford Irving, who was himself partial to creating fake works, notably a biography of Howard Hughes. It’s a mind-bending film which constantly plays with the idea of truth, challenging the viewer and confronting them, toying with what’s real in both Hory’s work, Irving’s role as his biographer, and the story that the film presents to us. You’ll left not knowing what’s fiction and what’s fact.”