Orson Welles

Welles enters into history with his made up story of mars invaders, broadcasted on national radio. The radio medium Orson Wellesstill  in his early years, the story provoked  a feeling of panic all over the United States. Welles concluded: If I would have done this in South America ,they would have put me in jail, here in stead  I got a Hollywood contract. So, Welles criticizing the press magnate William Randolph Hearts in  “Citizen Kane” , receives in 1942(at the age of 24) nine nominations for The Oscars ,something the establishment of the film industry wasn’t able to accept. At each announcement of the nine nominations, the public started booing, converting these moments in a  rupture between the film-maker and Hollywood that would never heal.


With Europe, drained in bloody wars, he meets Margarita Cansino, alias Rita Hayworth. She was at the peak of her young career and  receives marvellous critics on her role in “Gilda”. They marry and realise together ”The Lady of Shangai”. On one occasion Orson initiates his wife into bullfighting together with a Mexican torero. The press called the famous couple:” The Beauty and the Brains”.  Hayworth was the daughter of Spanish flamenco dancer Eduardo Cansino, who emigrated from Seville to New York in the early19twenties. At the age of three, Margarita would dance in her father’s show ,touring  small theatres and clubs throughout the United States. Welles never came along well with Eduardo, blaming him for having exploited his daughter since her childhood. At the age of 16 Rita is spotted by a talent scout of Fox Studios, soon after she would be known in  Hollywood as ”The Goddess of Love”.

Orson Welles

Poor results for his movies at the box office and due to the negative vibes with his producers, Welles decides in 1949 to emigrate to this beloved Europe. Before his definite move to Europe, Welles had spent already large periods in the old continent. Becoming an orphan  at the age of 16,Welles heads for Ireland and in 1933 he installs himself in Seville, renting a small apartment above a lively brothel in the famous Triana suburb. In Seville he writes for various local magazines, meanwhile he gets fascinated by the bullfighting. So much, he soon starts fighting small bulls in public under the name “El Americano”.



He soon realised his talents were limited in this art, especially the day when  locals started throwing beer bottles at him during one of his acts,…leaving him with a scar on his lips for the rest of his life. Despite of this, Welles felt  home, here in the south of Spain ,and would say later: If in that time ,I would have stayed a year longer, I would have fought together with the Republicans against Franco, which means that I would have died there most  probably. In 1954 Welles is in Seville to film Mr Arkadin ,his first entire European production.


Through the years ,the film-operator will work with production companies all over Europe and two of his films will be  financed by the Sha of Iran, who wanted to invest in modern cinema. In the mid fifties he  will complete a seven episode documentary for the BBC. In “ Around the  world with Orson Welles”,  Orson is directing himself, with usual flamboyance and visual flair. This masterpiece of journalism evokes subjects as :”The Bask Country”, and “Bullfights in Spain” Its style surely was an inspiration for the  recent and critically acclaimed travel documentaries done by Michael Palin, for example the six episodes document about the life of Hemmingway.

Orson Welles


Shooting the episode about bullfighting , Welles meets various famous toreros of that age and comments:I think I have a right to speak about bullfighting, because I was, for a while, I don’t quite know why, but I was, an aspiring bullfighter. For me a bullfighter is an actor facing real things.  I spent a good deal of time around the ranches where fighting bulls are raised.  But don’t be worried, you don’t have to approve of bullfights, I don’t ask you to, and I certainly wouldn’t dream of defending the spectacle. I, was personally fascinated  by the spectacle as a “whole” but whatever your attitude may be, remember that you can plug for the bull and there will be no hard feelings about it.
Welles becomes very personal  friends with Antonio Ordoñez, assisting  the legendary “Goyescas” in Ordoñez´ birthplace Ronda .

Orson Welles


Years back, Orson played and directed together with Marlene Dietrich, a theatre piece of Hemingway´s novel ,”The sun also rises”, inspired on the father of Antonio Ordoñez, El Niño de la Palma. During a visit on the finca of Ordoñez, the director spots a well and comments ironically to his chap Antonio: ”I would love to have my ashes buried in your pozo(well), so my name will be always present in your garden. A man is not from where he is born, but from where he chooses to die” In the mid eighties Welles daughter Beatrice actually brought the filmer’s ashes to the Ordoñez family in Ronda, where they now forever rest.


Between 1957 and 1973 Welles worked on his version of “Don Quichote de la Mancha”
. Unfortunately for the history of film, he could never finish this movie, because each progress evoked new financial problems. The Madrid film library possesses 40 minutes of this unfinished masterpiece. Asked for what role he plays in the movie, he says: I just walk in between the actors and I play Welles, the director of the movie.

Orson Welles

In 1973 ,in Ibiza Welles completes his  last full length film. F For Fake is an  experimental film done in a pseudo-documentary style that deals with lies and artistic charlatanism (fakes, forgery and swindling) as it demonstrates the elusive nature of authorship and truth. The film mixes fiction and documentary as it re-creates events that never happened and presents interviews with real people and with fictitious characters. Welles then narrates the following tale, which he describes as a “reenactment” of a “true story”. In his later years, Pablo Picasso, living in the town of Toussaint, is struck by the beauty of the vacationing Kodar and paints 22 pictures of her. In payment for modelling, she gets to keep the canvasses on the condition that she neither sell nor exhibit them. Later, Picasso reads of an unauthorized exhibition of his work in Paris and decides to investigate. At the exhibition, the artist finds Kodar and 22  fake “Picassos.” Kodar explains that she showed the genuine paintings to her dying grandfather, a talented art forger, who used them as inspiration for painting the fakes on exhibit and then burned the originals. He called it a new dimension in the art of Picasso. End of the story.


Picasso once said: ”Art is a lie”, Welles concludes at the end of the movie: ”Art is a lie that makes us understand the truth. Amazingly enough the role of the dying grandfather was played by the real art forger Elmyr d´Honry, who copied and sold various “Picassos” for real ones. At the release of the film, the French government, with the firm intention to jail the forger, was intensively after d’Honry, who desperately committed suicide.


One of  Welles’ assistants explains: In the Picasso story, Orson had me take pictures of Picasso out of magazines, blow them up and film them through Persian blinds and Venetian blinds, both inside and outside. “Don’t let anybody tell you what to do,” he said. “And never make a movie for anyone else, or on some idea of what other people will like. Make it yours, and hope that there will be others who will understand. But never compromise to make them understand, unless you really feel you have to. The  lesson was simply this: Never need Hollywood, never depend on it for your financing, for support, for your ability to make films.

Get your backing as far away as possible from what they proudly call their “Industry” if you have any intention of being an artist. For the rest of his career Welles would be relegated to supporting roles, voice over narrations, and finally hitting rock-bottom by touting cheap wine on television commercials, thundering “We shall sell no wine before it’s time!”, doing anything to raise enough funds in order to bequeath us such masterpieces as “Othello,” “Macbeth,” and “Chimes at Midnight.”

“I subsidize myself,” Welles said, receiving the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. “In other words, I’m crazy!”


Orson Welles