E:\Orson Wells Films I
******Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film, directed by and starring Orson Welles.
The film is often considered the greatest of all time and is particularly praised for its
innovative cinematography, music and narrative structure. Citizen Kane was Welles'
first feature film. The film was nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories;
it won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) by Welles and
Herman Mankiewicz. It was released by RKO Pictures.
The story is a roman à clef that examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane,
played by Welles, a character based upon the American newspaper magnate William
Randolph Hearst and Welles' own life. Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of
the film in any of his newspapers. Kane's career in the publishing world is born of
idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power.
Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is revealed through the research
of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud."
******Guy Van Stratten, a small-time American smuggler working in Europe, is at the scene
of a murder, and the dying man whispers two names that he claims are very valuable, one
of which is Gregory Arkadin. Using this small bit of information and lots of bluffing,
Van Stratten manages to meet the apparent multi-millionaire business magnate and
socialite Arkadin, and Arkadin then hires Van Stratten to research his own past, of which
he claims to have no memory before 1927.
Traveling across the world, Van Stratten pieces together Arkadin's past from the few
remaining people who knew Arkadin as a gangster in post-WWI Europe, but in each
case the individuals he speaks to end up dead. Van Stratten ultimately discovers the
truth about Arkadin's past, leading to a climactic race to Spain between the two,
with disastrous consequences.
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
******Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) meets the beautiful blonde Elsa (Rita Hayworth)
as she rides a horse-drawn coach in Central Park. Shortly thereafter three hooligans
waylay the coach, Michael rescues her and escorts her home. Michael reveals he is a
seaman and learns Elsa and her husband the famous disabled criminal defense attorney
Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane), are newly arrived in New York City from Shanghai.
They are on their way to San Francisco via the Panama Canal. Michael, attracted to Elsa
despite misgivings is persuaded to sign on as an able seaman aboard Bannister's yacht.
After setting sail, they are joined on the boat by Bannister's law partner, George Grisby
(Glenn Anders), who proposes that Michael "murder" him in a plot to fake his own death
and collect the insurance money for himself. He promises Michael $5,000 and explains that
since he wouldn't really be dead and thus there would be no corpse, Michael couldn't be
convicted of murder. Michael agrees to this, intending to use the money to run away with
Elsa, with whom he's begun a relationship. Grisby has Michael sign a confession.
******Touch of Evil is one of the last examples of film noir in the genre's classic era
(from the early 1940s until the late 1950s).
The movie opens with a three-minute, thirty second continuous tracking shot widely
considered by critics to be one of the greatest long takes in cinematic history.
Beginning on the Mexico/US border, the shot shows a man placing a bomb in a car
and then the journey of the car into the United States. The shot ends with newlyweds
Miguel ("Mike") (Charlton Heston) and Susie Vargas (Janet Leigh) kissing. The scene
then cuts to the car, containing a man and a woman, exploding.
Miguel Vargas, a drug enforcement official within the Mexican government, realizes the
implications of a Mexican bomb exploding on American soil and begins to investigate.
Police Chief Pete Gould (Harry Shannon) and District Attorney Adair (Ray Collins) arrive
shortly on the scene, as well as police Captain Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) and Quinlan's
friend and partner, Pete Menzies (Joseph Calleia).
While Quinlan and Menzies interrogate their prime suspect, a young Mexican named Sanchez
who was secretly married to the daughter of the victim, Vargas visits the restroom and accidentally
knocks a shoebox into the empty bathtub. He places the box back in its place. Moments later,
Menzies announces that two sticks of dynamite were found in the shoebox in the bathroom.
Vargas, aghast at the duplicity of the two men, determines that Quinlan may have been habitually
planting evidence to help win convictions for years. When Vargas tries to confront Quinlan about
this, Quinlan dismisses Vargas as being racially biased in favor of his fellow Mexicans.
******The Trial (also known as Le Procès) is a 1962 film directed by Orson Welles,
who also wrote the screenplay based on the novel by Franz Kafka. Welles stated
in an interview with the BBC that "The Trial is the best film I have ever made."
The film begins with Welles narrating Kafka's parable, "Before the Law", to pinscreen
scenes created by Alexandre Alexeieff.Josef K. (Anthony Perkins) is awakened in his
apartment one morning by two police officers who inform him that he is under open arrest.
The officers decline to identify the crime that Josef K. is being charged with, nor do they take
him into custody. When the officers leave, Josef K. converses with his landlady, Mrs. Grubach
(Madeleine Robinson), and his neighbor, Miss Burstner (Jeanne Moreau), about what transpired.
He later goes to his office, where he is reprimanded by his superior for allegedly having improper
relations with his female teenage cousin.
That evening, Josef K. goes to the opera, but is taken from the theater by a police inspector
(Arnoldo Foà) and is brought to a courtroom, where his attempts to confront the peculiar nature
of his case are in vain. He later returns to his office and discovers the two police officers who first
visited him are being whipped in a small room. Josef K.’s uncle Max recommends that he consult
with Hastler (Orson Welles), a law advocate. After brief encounters with the wife of a courtroom guard
(Elsa Martinelli) and a room full of condemned men waiting for trial, Josef K. has an interview with Hastler,
which proves unsatisfactory. Hastler’s mistress (Romy Schneider) suggests that Josef K. seek out the
advice of the artist Titorelli (William Chappell), but this is also not helpful. Seeking refuge in a cathedral,
Josef K. learns from a priest (Michael Lonsdale) that he has been condemned to death.
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