Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall of a brilliant conversationalist, a raconteur, an artist who freely speaks out on just about everyone and everything in his world? That’s just what readers of the new book, My Lunches with Orson: Conversation Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles, get to do. Yes, it’s the OrsonWelles, the man who made what many consider the greatest film ever made. Welles, of course, was also a respected actor, though he sold his services in many bad films for the money to make his own. Welles also indulged in pushing second rate products in ads like Paul Masson wine and would pop up on talk shows every other week. He was a man of taste and contradiction.
The book compiles a series of conversations recorded during the last years of Welles fascinating life. The original tapes remained “lost” for years until editor, Peter Biskind (Easy Riders, Raging Bulls; Down and Dirty Pictures), urged independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom to have them transcribed. What’s revealed is a fascinating, paradox study of a cinematic genius who knew even in his final years that he was better and brighter than just about anyone else in town. Continue reading
Over the years I have read many of Neil Simon’s plays and “The Odd Couple” has remained at the top of my favorites list. The play was a huge hit on Broadway with Art Carney and Walter Matthau originating the roles of Felix Unger, (a newspaper writer in the play and movie and a photographer in the TV series) and sportswriter Oscar Madison. The play opened in March of 1965 and ran for 964 performances. Along with Carney and Matthau, the cast included the delightful character actor John Fiedler and as the Pidgeon Sisters, Monica Evans and Carole Shelley. Along with Matthau these three actors would recreate their roles in the 1968 film. Evans and Shelley would go one step further playing the giggling bird sisters on the TV series. (1) Continue reading
I have always had a thing for reading interviews with artists whether they are writers, painters, photographers, actors or filmmakers. Over the years, there has been a long list of interview books with filmmakers I have indulged in. One of the first was Joseph Gelmis’ “The Film Director as Superstar.” Since then there have been plenty others, “The Directors Event,” The Celluloid Muse,” Andrew Sarris’ “Interview with Film Directors” and Leonard Maltin’s “The Art of the Cinematographer” to name a few. Add to this Robert K. Elder’s “The Best Film You’ve Never Seen” where the author/interviewer gives 35 film directors the opportunity to rave on about forgotten gems that influenced them as filmmakers. While I may not agree all these films are forgotten (Sweet Charity?), on the whole, the selections are intriguing. Even when the films themselves are not very good, the directors enthusiasm and descriptive explanations make you want to give them another look. A telling example is Jonathan Levine’s choice of “Can’t Stop the Music.” Levine, director of “50/50” and “Warm Bodies,” explains, “it’s like, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ if you replaced the talented musician’s with the Village People and a coherent script with this movie.” Levine’s fondness for the film comes through clearly despite his knowing, and the readers, that this film is not going to give “Vertigo” a run for the top spot on Sight and Sound’s next list of best films of all time. Continue reading