Sunday, May 01, 2005

Orson Wells and frozen peas...

There is another biography of Orson Wells. If I had time in my life for more recreational reading I would definitely buy it, but I will have to satisfy myself with a review, and a remembrance if an entertaining little snip I found on the internet a few years -- Orson Wells making a radio commercial.

[Wells is] the tragic hero, whose greatest weakness is his integral strength, his bone-deep inability to compromise -- as we find in ''Despite the System: Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood Studios,'' a devoted and meticulously researched work. Does any name come to mind more insistently than Welles, that Don Quixote of film directors? Small wonder ''Don Quixote'' was one of Welles's favorites in that frustrating group of films he would work and rework with demon energy over the years, only to give up finally and raise the white flag. Then somehow he would find the strength to move on to the next film. ''I believe that the only good work I can do is my own particular thing,'' Welles once said. ''I don't think I'm very good at doing their thing.''

Nothing illustrates the point more than this audio. Despite his genius, Wells had to pay the rent like everybody else. To make ends meet he was reduced to prostituting that world-class voice by making radio commercials or TV soundtracks. It's rather sad when you think of it. I think of a weary musician who for practical reasons might leave the stage of Carnegie Hall to play for diners in a restaurant, moving from party to party in a little trio, grinding out "requests" and playing "Happy Birthday" ad nauseum, for tip money.

A recording technician let the tape so we can hear the transparent greatness and impatience of this giant of stage and screen as he worked. Even in the most pedestrian tasks his standard of excellence was so high that ordinary people were incapable of understanding it. Parts of this tape are muffled so turn up the speakers to listen closely to the details. LINK and enjoy. After you hear it the first time, the second time through is better.

Wikipedia also has an entry with a link.


Update, March, 2007
You Tube has a video.
This is a re-enactment of the Findus Food commercial outtake from the WFMU-TV reel that came out in 1994. Mark Rudolph of WFMU-TV plays Director #1 and Orson Welles. Director #2 is played by Dave Shelton.

1 comment:

vietnamcatfish said...

Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" is generally recognized as the best movie of all time. Rosebud, eh? The movie starred Welles as welles as Joseph Cotton and Agnes Moorehead. It's not a movie I could watch over and over. If I was Spielberg-maybe. But I'm just a member of the fraternal order of food-service workers, and no flicks are in my immediate future.
v.c. P.S. He was also the radio voice behind "The War of the Worlds"production which sent the public into mass hysteria, allah "Jaws" in 75.