Orson Welles

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hearthesilence
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Re: Orson Welles

#251 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:37 am

Tickets for all of those rare Welles screenings at MoMA are currently on sale (at least to members, not sure about the general public) and they're mostly playing in the smaller T2 theater (damn you, Bridge of Spies and The Walk!)

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Re: Orson Welles

#252 Post by Roscoe » Sun Nov 08, 2015 11:27 am

And coming in early January -- a weeklong run of CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT at Film Forum:

http://filmforum.org/film/chimes-at-midnight-film" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Orson Welles

#253 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Nov 08, 2015 1:02 pm

I will be at the FF tomorrow to see Spartacus. I'm hoping to see Bruce Goldstein there. I want to know if Chimes is a different/updated resto than what played earlier in year.

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Re: Orson Welles

#254 Post by Drucker » Sun Nov 08, 2015 2:50 pm

Fwiw, the restoration last year did not say A Janus release, and was credited to Filmoteca Espanola, who are not mentioned in he current repertory calendar.

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Re: Orson Welles

#255 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Nov 09, 2015 12:51 pm

Janus responded to a twitter question that, "yes!" there is difference between their Chimes at Midnight and the Filmoteca Espanola that toured last year, with "details forthcoming."
So perhaps they have used that found 35mm print that was recently discovered.

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Re: Orson Welles

#256 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:09 pm

No reason to use a release print discovered by a couple of over-enthusiastic collectors—the negative still exists but wasn't used for the Spanish restoration, presumably because the Filmoteca Española worked with the Spanish rights holders and the negative is with the Harry Saltzman estate. We know Criterion knows about these elements, so hopefully they worked something out to use them.
Last edited by The Fanciful Norwegian on Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Orson Welles

#257 Post by Drucker » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:11 pm

Again, the restoration is promoted as a Janus release. Don't want to even think about the idea that Criterion is not going to release this.

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Re: Orson Welles

#258 Post by big ticket » Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:38 pm

It looks like the same Japanese studio who put out The Trial (IVC) is releasing special editions of Kane and Ambersons on blu in just a couple months. This is Ambersons' first ever appearance on blu-ray, no? An exciting prospect. Appears to be region free, too, according to WellesNet

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Magni ... ay/144249/

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Re: Orson Welles

#259 Post by Drucker » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:28 am

hearthesilence wrote:Tickets for all of those rare Welles screenings at MoMA are currently on sale (at least to members, not sure about the general public) and they're mostly playing in the smaller T2 theater (damn you, Bridge of Spies and The Walk!)
Were you there last night? I was reading What Ever Happened To OW this morning, specifically the passage about Merchant of Venice, and noticed that something Stefan Droessler said contradicted McBride's book:
Welles's condensed version, however, takes the radical step of eliminating Portia from the play, a decision he made after Kodar told him she was not up to playing the role.
Droessler mentioned the absence of a funeral scene and of this character, but he made it seem more like it was an artistic and monetary decision by Welles. That he wanted the Shylock speech to be the climax of the film, and he sort of haphazardly told the actress playing Portia not to show up to film wherever they were going to film (though he eventually made it up to her in some way). Further, Droessler made no mention of Kodar playing this role, but some other actress whose name escapes me now. Anyone else there last night that can help me on these details?

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Re: Orson Welles

#260 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:36 am

Interesting! Sadly I was not - I wanted to be but I had a prior engagement I couldn't get out of.

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Re: Orson Welles

#261 Post by Drucker » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:05 am

It was more of a lecture than anything else, but the restored Merchant of Venice is certainly the best looking color film I've seen from Welles. Stylistically, it was very similar to Immortal Story, but I actually found it better and more powerful overall. The most interesting thing about the restoration is that a whole reel of sound elements is missing (from the important Shylock speech, no less). But Welles had recorded the speech as part of a record series for Columbia records in the 1930s. It just so happens, as well, that he didn't change ANY of the lines from his recording of the speech, but did rearrange them. So the missing sound elements were dubbed in from a recording from 1938, and it really wasn't too bad!

I'll be at The Deep on Sunday. Gonna have to miss the preview cut of Journey Into Fear and the screening of Dreams and OTOTW clips.

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Re: Orson Welles

#262 Post by Altair » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:54 am

Where are all of these on BD? Sigh... What are the differences between the preview and theatrical cuts of Journey into Fear (IMDb being singularly unilluminating)?

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Re: Orson Welles

#263 Post by Drucker » Fri Nov 20, 2015 11:59 am

According to the page on MOMA about 8 minutes of footage, and maybe a little more, considering it's 81 minute runtime. I don't know if it'll really help make sense of that film, but would certainly be a treat to see.

I would hope Janus owns Filming Othello, by the way. Droesseler showed a document of the contract Welles signed to make the film, and it appeared to be a contract with Janus. If they are releasing Othello and Chimes like people have speculated, then hopefully some of these odds and ends of his career (and Immortal Story, of course!) make it on to discs as extras.

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Re: Orson Welles

#264 Post by Roger Ryan » Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:39 pm

The version of Journey Into Fear that Droessler is screening is a 2006 reconstruction of the film combining footage from the two extant edits in additional to a few explanatory intertitles and two or three production stills. It is an attempt to reconfigure the film to more closely match the 91 min. preview version for which a cutting continuity exists but no print (the preview version reels were sent to Welles in Brazil along with the long version of Ambersons). As with Ambersons, RKO re-edited the preview version and released it in August, 1942. Welles was successful in convincing the studio to pull the film from release and allow him to do a quick re-edit himself and shoot a new ending. This new version was then released in February, 1943.

Only being familiar with the Welles re-edit, I was quite surprised to see the earlier studio edit screened during the 2005 Locarno Welles retrospective. Apparently, a stray print survived and had been in circulation in Europe. I had never seen any reference to there being two extant versions of this title and, frankly, I think this comes down to the film being such a minor entry in Welles' canon. Droessler was surprised as well and hit upon the idea of combining footage from the two versions. I volunteered to do some research for the project and advised him on how the preview version was structured.

This reconstructed version not only features more footage, but some of the scenes that were re-sequenced by RKO have been restored to their original running order. Does it make sense out of the story? Well, I think it improves it a bit, but this was a film that was largely derailed during pre-production due to censorship issues. If Welles didn't have to answer to the Hayes office, I think Journey Into Fear would have been a lot sharper in its political critique and funnier in its sex comedy aspirations.

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Re: Orson Welles

#265 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:24 pm

I was actually on my way to MoMA tonight as I had tickets to see The Deep but the goddamn f$%&ing MTA f-ed over my plans. For anyone had made it, please post about it, I'm very curious to know what they showed.

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Re: Orson Welles

#266 Post by Drucker » Sun Nov 22, 2015 11:27 pm

Well, I hate to tell you, but it was actually quite excellent. Droessler made clear in the introduction that Welles' intended this to be a popular film, to show he could deliver a hit, and it's easy to see how this could have been a very successful, fun film in the mold of Lady From Shanghai and Touch of Evil.

I'm sure you're mostly familiar with the plot, and I need to re-read the chapters in WEHTOW, but the entirety of the plot is in place. We open in a dream sequence of Oja's, where she is pushed off the deck, she comes awake, and we are on ship with her and her husband. The opening sequence is long, as are many of the sequences. Droessler stressed that as a work print, shots are intentionally repeated, and different takes of the same scene are inserted intentionally several times because the film would have been edited down.

-There are many blank frames where close-ups were to have been inserted
-Welles' lines are mostly absent, as he would have dubbed his own lines in last after everyone else did
-Harvey's lines are all (clearly) read by Welles. He has the most finished dialogue of anyone in the film (because of this?). He died before having the chance to dub.
-Moreau has a lot of dialogue recorded, and clearly most of it is NOT overdubbed, which was a nice treat.
-All of Welles' lines you hear are live in shot
-Most of Kodar and her husband's lines are clearly overubbed
-The assembled/displayed work print consists of pieces of 2 separate workprints and even some rushes. Welles printed rushes on whatever shitty film stock he had lying around. The film frequently goes from black and white to color.
-I can confirm for you that this does not represent at all the color timing. Sorry, would be nice if it looked like that, but the color stock was mostly faded, or I assume, never color-timed to begin with (I would have no idea technically what to make of it. Very, very faded)

I lost track of time, but if I were imagining what the edit would have consisted of, the first reel would have been: 1) dream sequence 2) wake up 3) see Harvey approaching in boat 4) figure out what's going on with him 5) husband gets suspicious and investigates other boat 6) discovers Welles and Moreau 7) discover Harvey was faking illness and gets away. This could easily make up 15 minutes, and with a 15 minute reel establishing plot, of what would probably be a 1.5 hour movie, it would establish everything pretty well.

As the film goes on, Harvey comes off very well as paranoid that his boat mates are out to get him. Even without his voice, the performance is clearly strong and desperate. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kodar is sort of the weak link of the film. At the beginning of the film, she is sympathetic to Harvey's plight, even while her husband is suspect. Then, of course, she is kidnapped by Harvey. She actually seems perfectly well-cast, but it's kind of underdeveloped from what we see. She has a chance at one point to kill Harvey, but spares him. This is something I jus didn't get. She moves between feeling bad for the guy's clear mental wreckage, and at the same time is plotting to kill him or escape, eventually drugging him long enough to find Welles's and co's boat. She's not bad, really, but her character's motivation is lacking. And there's plenty of this-era Kodar-esque close-ups stuck in for good measure that don't necessarily fit the rest of the film (of course, maybe finished they would have, but who knows).

I cannot stress how great Welles is though. Playing a bit part instead of a lead, he's doing his best Falstaff, except it really seems like he's channeling Thomas Mitchell in Stagecoach. He's constantly drinking and smoking, and tossing off snooty one-liners as the exposition is explained, and we learned about what really happened from Moreau, as she explains to Kodar's husband what really happened. The plot, is basically (from what I gather):
-Harvey washes up on Kodar and husband's boat, claiming everyone on his boat is dead from food poisoning and his wife is dead.
-Turns out, in reality, he's gone mad, thinks others are out to get him. His wife is Moreau, and she's alive. But Harvey killed Welles's wife.
-Kodar's husband spends night figuring out how they can reach Kodar's boat, which isn't sinking (their boat is, though slowly).

The clear highlight of the film is the scene right before they set the boat on fire so Kodar would see them in the distance. I think they are supposed to be throwing gasoline around the boat, but this humorous scene lasted 5 minutes, and they were clearly throwing around various paint cans all over the boat. There's even a minute or so with yellow and red-tinted film. I'm not sure if this was the first film Welles planned to make with color, but you can imagine an anarchistic scene where people are tossing full-paint cans all over the boat. With finished color processing, it clearly would have been a joy to watch. It's a comedic scene and a real blast.

Unfortunately, the climactic close-ups of Harvey and Welles in their final, underwater fight, eventually killed by a shark are all lost.

So, overall, a great workprint. Sure, it needed a lot of trimming, but the film clearly had potential. The only reel with music featured a french jazz LP (Droessler narrated about 4 or 5 times during silent stretches), and that modern soundtrack would have been wonderful. It's very effective the brief moments it's used.

I think that's all I can conjure up. It has a happy ending which mirrors Kodar's dream sequence at the open, so surely Welles was going for something he could market. But it works, and is a mostly entertaining film. Long stretches of silence in a crowded theater are somewhat difficult to endure, but it's really not too bad at all.

As far as the original negative goes, Droessler's speculation is that the negative is destroyed. It was apparently housed somewhere, where, basically it would have needed to have been signed out, and there's no accounting for when it left where it was held. More than likely, he thinks, Welles quietly had it removed from the archive without signing it out so he wouldn't have to pay a tax on it. Eventually, however, customs would have held it, having figured it had been removed 2 or 3 times without payment, and demanded payment to ship it back to where it belongs. Customs would have only held something for a year or two before "chopping it." So if Welles couldn't come up with the tax bill to rescue the film, it would be destroyed, which it probably was, it sounded like.

At least, that's how I understood his speculation. Anyone who knows a thing or two about customs can probably clear up the details of what I've just tried to describe.

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Re: Orson Welles

#267 Post by Altair » Mon Nov 23, 2015 5:08 am

Roger Ryan wrote:The version of Journey Into Fear that Droessler is screening is a 2006 reconstruction of the film combining footage from the two extant edits in additional to a few explanatory intertitles and two or three production stills.
Thank you (and thank you to Drucker's extensive report on The Deep); so I assume the reason the 2006 reconstruction wasn't included in Kino's recent BD is it's not public domain? Can we dare hope for a Criterion which includes both versions?

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Re: Orson Welles

#268 Post by Jonathan S » Mon Nov 23, 2015 7:04 am

Altair wrote:
Roger Ryan wrote:The version of Journey Into Fear that Droessler is screening is a 2006 reconstruction of the film combining footage from the two extant edits in additional to a few explanatory intertitles and two or three production stills.
Thank you (and thank you to Drucker's extensive report on The Deep); so I assume the reason the 2006 reconstruction wasn't included in Kino's recent BD is it's not public domain? Can we dare hope for a Criterion which includes both versions?
Surely Journey Into Fear, as an RKO production, is owned by Warner, at least in the US (are you thinking of Kino's Blu-ray of The Stranger?) Officially, of course, Welles only acts in Journey - if I recall correctly, in the BBC Arena interview he was still keen to deny any directorial input and give all the credit (and I suppose correlative discredit) to Norman Foster.

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Re: Orson Welles

#269 Post by Altair » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:04 am

Jonathan S wrote:
Altair wrote:
Roger Ryan wrote:The version of Journey Into Fear that Droessler is screening is a 2006 reconstruction of the film combining footage from the two extant edits in additional to a few explanatory intertitles and two or three production stills.
Thank you (and thank you to Drucker's extensive report on The Deep); so I assume the reason the 2006 reconstruction wasn't included in Kino's recent BD is it's not public domain? Can we dare hope for a Criterion which includes both versions?
Surely Journey Into Fear, as an RKO production, is owned by Warner, at least in the US (are you thinking of Kino's Blu-ray of The Stranger?) Officially, of course, Welles only acts in Journey - if I recall correctly, in the BBC Arena interview he was still keen to deny any directorial input and give all the credit (and I suppose correlative discredit) to Norman Foster.
Of course, yes, I was writing too early in the morning! I suppose we shouldn't hold our breath for Warner Archive to release Journey into Fear on BD.

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Re: Orson Welles

#270 Post by Roger Ryan » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:29 am

Jonathan S wrote:...Officially, of course, Welles only acts in Journey - if I recall correctly, in the BBC Arena interview he was still keen to deny any directorial input and give all the credit (and I suppose correlative discredit) to Norman Foster.
Interestingly, the version of Journey RKO released briefly in August, 1942 credits the screenplay to both Welles and Joseph Cotten (although Ben Hecht was the primary writer on it initially) whereas the final version credits only Cotten as screenwriter. This suggests that Welles was distancing himself from the project even though he initiated the film and was the one responsible for the final re-shaping of it. When comparing the two versions, I suspect Welles was allowed to rework the material using only what was present in the August '42 released edit. Welles chose to tell the story exclusively from the perspective of Howard Graham (Cotten) so he stripped away any scenes where Graham is not present and added the first-person narration (he would choose to do the same thing late in post-production for The Lady From Shanghai and, possibly, for Mr. Arkadin as well). This is the likely reason he placed the opening scene showing Banat leaving his hotel room in front of the credits (to separate it from the main narrative since it is an event Graham could not have witnessed). Welles scripted and directed a new ending scene to tie in the first-person narration to a letter Graham is attempting to write. For as much as Welles wanted to deny directorial input on the film, he was the one who determined the final shape of the narrative.

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Re: Orson Welles

#271 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:28 am

Drucker wrote:Well, I hate to tell you, but it was actually quite excellent.
Yeah, I figured. And yet again, the MTA was just garbage this morning, again with TWO separate and significant delays before I could even get into Manhattan. It's not even the holiday rush yet, it's absolutely ridiculous.

And many, many thanks for the description. Hopefully another presentation will come after some much needed additional restoration on the color. I imagine the funding isn't there yet, but hopefully that'll change.

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Re: Orson Welles

#272 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:38 pm

Drucker wrote:Well, I hate to tell you, but it was actually quite excellent. Droessler made clear in the introduction that Welles' intended this to be a popular film, to show he could deliver a hit, and it's easy to see how this could have been a very successful, fun film in the mold of Lady From Shanghai and Touch of Evil.

I'm sure you're mostly familiar with the plot, and I need to re-read the chapters in WEHTOW, but the entirety of the plot is in place. We open in a dream sequence of Oja's, where she is pushed off the deck, she comes awake, and we are on ship with her and her husband. The opening sequence is long, as are many of the sequences. Droessler stressed that as a work print, shots are intentionally repeated, and different takes of the same scene are inserted intentionally several times because the film would have been edited down.

-There are many blank frames where close-ups were to have been inserted
-Welles' lines are mostly absent, as he would have dubbed his own lines in last after everyone else did
-Harvey's lines are all (clearly) read by Welles. He has the most finished dialogue of anyone in the film (because of this?). He died before having the chance to dub.
-Moreau has a lot of dialogue recorded, and clearly most of it is NOT overdubbed, which was a nice treat.
-All of Welles' lines you hear are live in shot
-Most of Kodar and her husband's lines are clearly overubbed
-The assembled/displayed work print consists of pieces of 2 separate workprints and even some rushes. Welles printed rushes on whatever shitty film stock he had lying around. The film frequently goes from black and white to color.
-I can confirm for you that this does not represent at all the color timing. Sorry, would be nice if it looked like that, but the color stock was mostly faded, or I assume, never color-timed to begin with (I would have no idea technically what to make of it. Very, very faded)

I lost track of time, but if I were imagining what the edit would have consisted of, the first reel would have been: 1) dream sequence 2) wake up 3) see Harvey approaching in boat 4) figure out what's going on with him 5) husband gets suspicious and investigates other boat 6) discovers Welles and Moreau 7) discover Harvey was faking illness and gets away. This could easily make up 15 minutes, and with a 15 minute reel establishing plot, of what would probably be a 1.5 hour movie, it would establish everything pretty well.

As the film goes on, Harvey comes off very well as paranoid that his boat mates are out to get him. Even without his voice, the performance is clearly strong and desperate. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Kodar is sort of the weak link of the film. At the beginning of the film, she is sympathetic to Harvey's plight, even while her husband is suspect. Then, of course, she is kidnapped by Harvey. She actually seems perfectly well-cast, but it's kind of underdeveloped from what we see. She has a chance at one point to kill Harvey, but spares him. This is something I jus didn't get. She moves between feeling bad for the guy's clear mental wreckage, and at the same time is plotting to kill him or escape, eventually drugging him long enough to find Welles's and co's boat. She's not bad, really, but her character's motivation is lacking. And there's plenty of this-era Kodar-esque close-ups stuck in for good measure that don't necessarily fit the rest of the film (of course, maybe finished they would have, but who knows).

I cannot stress how great Welles is though. Playing a bit part instead of a lead, he's doing his best Falstaff, except it really seems like he's channeling Thomas Mitchell in Stagecoach. He's constantly drinking and smoking, and tossing off snooty one-liners as the exposition is explained, and we learned about what really happened from Moreau, as she explains to Kodar's husband what really happened. The plot, is basically (from what I gather):
-Harvey washes up on Kodar and husband's boat, claiming everyone on his boat is dead from food poisoning and his wife is dead.
-Turns out, in reality, he's gone mad, thinks others are out to get him. His wife is Moreau, and she's alive. But Harvey killed Welles's wife.
-Kodar's husband spends night figuring out how they can reach Kodar's boat, which isn't sinking (their boat is, though slowly).

The clear highlight of the film is the scene right before they set the boat on fire so Kodar would see them in the distance. I think they are supposed to be throwing gasoline around the boat, but this humorous scene lasted 5 minutes, and they were clearly throwing around various paint cans all over the boat. There's even a minute or so with yellow and red-tinted film. I'm not sure if this was the first film Welles planned to make with color, but you can imagine an anarchistic scene where people are tossing full-paint cans all over the boat. With finished color processing, it clearly would have been a joy to watch. It's a comedic scene and a real blast.

Unfortunately, the climactic close-ups of Harvey and Welles in their final, underwater fight, eventually killed by a shark are all lost.

So, overall, a great workprint. Sure, it needed a lot of trimming, but the film clearly had potential. The only reel with music featured a french jazz LP (Droessler narrated about 4 or 5 times during silent stretches), and that modern soundtrack would have been wonderful. It's very effective the brief moments it's used.

I think that's all I can conjure up. It has a happy ending which mirrors Kodar's dream sequence at the open, so surely Welles was going for something he could market. But it works, and is a mostly entertaining film. Long stretches of silence in a crowded theater are somewhat difficult to endure, but it's really not too bad at all.

As far as the original negative goes, Droessler's speculation is that the negative is destroyed. It was apparently housed somewhere, where, basically it would have needed to have been signed out, and there's no accounting for when it left where it was held. More than likely, he thinks, Welles quietly had it removed from the archive without signing it out so he wouldn't have to pay a tax on it. Eventually, however, customs would have held it, having figured it had been removed 2 or 3 times without payment, and demanded payment to ship it back to where it belongs. Customs would have only held something for a year or two before "chopping it." So if Welles couldn't come up with the tax bill to rescue the film, it would be destroyed, which it probably was, it sounded like.

At least, that's how I understood his speculation. Anyone who knows a thing or two about customs can probably clear up the details of what I've just tried to describe.
Is it up to the studio which negatives get tossed and which get kept, hence the many famous "missing scenes" out there for various films which exist primarily in stills and trailers?


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Re: Orson Welles

#274 Post by Drucker » Thu Dec 31, 2015 1:56 pm


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Re: Orson Welles

#275 Post by Randall Maysin » Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:06 pm

He's dead.

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