Welles’s final completed film is a groundbreaking blend of fact and fiction that dazzles audiences to this day. He began with footage shot by François Reichenbach for a documentary on professional art forger Elmyr de Hory, a Hungarian-born, Ibiza-based master of Picasso, Modigliani and Matisse replicas.
Welles soon discovered, however, that Hory’s would-be biographer, American ex-patriot Clifford Irving, was himself the forger responsible for the notorious fake Howard Hughes diaries. Welles incorporated new footage, with major contributions from his then-companion, Oja Kodar, into a dizzying, delightful “film essay.” Welles and his editing team reportedly worked seven days a week for an entire year on the film. Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote that the film was “for Welles a playful repository of public history intertwined with private in-jokes as well as duplicitous meanings, an elaborate blend of sense and nonsense that carries us along regardless of what’s actually being said.” The film’s critical reputation has soared in the nearly four decades since its premiere, proving it to be a satisfying conclusion to one of the most dramatic directing careers in film history.
1977, 90 minutes, color, 35mm | Written by Orson Welles, Oja Palinkas [Oja Kodar]; directed by Orson Welles.
ABOUT THE ESSENTIAL ORSON WELLES
Screen legend Orson Welles was a pioneering filmmaker and raffish public personality, best known for the remarkable achievement of Citizen Kane. This series presented by the Academy will focus on Welles as a trailblazing director, presenting nine of the 11 films completed in his lifetime (several of them screening in brand-new restorations). As a body of work, these films – from the serene grandeur of The Magnificent Ambersons to the noir intrigue of The Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil – reveal the dexterity and inventiveness of Welles's craftsmanship. The series will offer examples of his dazzling technical expertise, such as overlapping dialogue, potent bursts of montage and bravura cinematography, and explore the themes that fascinated him, from anti-heroes corrupted by power to the dangers of pursuing uncomfortable truths. These films are a testament to Welles the tireless visionary, who, whether in the lap of studio luxury or exiled in Zagreb, approached each motion picture as a mystery that only he could unravel.
The series runs from May 3 through June 7. For more screenings, please visit our Events page.
- Saturday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m.
- Bing Theater
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
- $5 general admission
- $3 Academy members, LACMA Film Club members and students with a valid ID.
- Order Tickets Online