Los Angeles, CA 90036
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.