ORSON WELLES — THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND

Part Barefoot Contessa, part Nashville, part psychedelic head trip—a sixties hangover shot in the seventies, abandoned in the eighties, and finally edited down from over 100 hours of footage to a two-hour cut—Orson Welles’ final film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, is a fascinatingly crass long day’s journey into night: the last fevered hours of Jake Hannaford, a past-his-prime Hollywood director played by John Huston with his signature leer and sense of exhausted disdain.

Surrounded by an entourage of enablers and trailed by a scrum of paparazzi and video documentarians, Hannaford makes his merry way out to Palm Springs to watch the rushes from his latest attempt at a cinematic comeback, which—as many early viewers have noted—plays like a Welles parody of Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point.

(The hyper-erotic film-within-a-film stars Welles’ partner Oja Kodar, and Robert Random—both frequently nude and both the objects of Hannaford’s obsession.)

Shot in multiple film stocks, this propulsive blend of coercion, abuse, and overwhelming cynicism teeters on and off the rails from its opening scene, but you won’t be able to divert your eyes from the action.

“More acutely than any other work attached to Welles, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND is built—in form and content—of thrown voices, feints, false fronts, and tall tales leading to and from Welles’ idea of himself as a public figure, as the performance of a lifetime, drawn at maximum clarity then cracked apart and squirreled within shadows of such depth as to permit only flashes, glimpses, and whispers of that self-image.

“To be a wreck is, it seems, a certain sort of freedom.” — Phil Coldiron in Cinema Scope.

Tonight, THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD—the Morgan Neville documentary on Welles and his struggle to make his last opus—will screen at LACMA. Tomorrow night at the same venue, producer Frank Marshall will present the Welles picture, followed by a Q & A.

(Later this week, Marshall will also present Welles’ film at UCLA.)

 

THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD

Monday, October 29, at 7:30 pm.

Bing Theater, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND

Tuesday, October 30, at 7:30.

Bing Theater, LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles.

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND

Thursday, November 1, at 7:30 pm.

James Bridges TheaterUCLA, 235 Charles E. Young Drive North, Los Angeles.

 

Through November 8:

Noho 7, 5240 Lankershim, North Hollywood.

From Friday, November 9:

Glendale, 207 North Maryland Avenue, Glendale.

And on Netflix.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND features screen appearances by Mercedes McCambridge, Paul Stewart, Norman Foster, Susan Strasberg, Edmond O’Brien, Lilli Palmer, Claude Chabrol, Dennis Hopper, Stéphane AudranPaul Mazursky, and Welles intimate Peter Bogdanovich, whose efforts in the assembly and release of the film were significant.

From top:

Oja Kodar(left) and Orson Welles (right) in the set of The Other Side of the Wind.

Kodar (2).

Robert Random and Kodar.

Credit for all images: Netflix.

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