(19151985), actor, writer, director
Actor, writer, director
May 15, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Died: November 22, 1985
Other Orson Welles Sites
Was Citizen Kane Really About Hearst? by Orson Welles
Orson Welles Films
The Hearts of Age, 1934
Too Much Johnson, 1938
Citizen Kane, 1941
The Magnificent Ambersons, 1942
The Stranger, 1944
The Lady from Shanghai, 1945
Don Quixote (unfinished), 1954
Confidential Report, 1955
Mr. Arkadin, 1955
Touch of Evil, 1957
The Trial, 1962
Chimes at Midnight, 1966
The Immortal Story, 1968
F For Fake, 1975
The Other Side of the Wind (unfinished), 1975
The Swiss Family Robinson, 1940
Journey Into Fear, 1942
It's All True, 1942 (incomplete, released 1993)
Jane Eyre, 1942 (as Edward Rochester)
Follow the Boys, 1944
Tomorrow is Forever, 1946
Duel in the Sun, 1947 (narrator only)
Black Magic, 1949
Prince of Foxes, 1949
The Third Man, 1949
The Black Rose, 1950
Return to Glennascaul, 1951
Ghost Story, 1951
Trent's Last Case, 1953
The Beast, 1953
Trouble in the Glen, 1954
Si Versailles M'Etait Contι, 1954
Three Cases of Murder, 1955
Out of Darkness, 1955 (narrator only)
Moby Dick, 1956
Man with a Shadow, 1957
Pay the Devil, 1957
The Long Hot Summer, 1958
Roots of Heaven, 1958
South Seas Adventure, 1958 (narrator only)
David and Goliath, 1959
High Journey, 1959 (narrator only)
Ferry to Hong Kong, 1959
The Tartars, 1960
King of Kings, 1961 (narrator only)
Lafayette, 1962 (as Benjamin Franklin)
Der Grosse Atlantik, 1962 (narrator)
The VIPs, 1963
The Finest Hours, 1964 (narrator only)
Marco the Magnificent, 1965
A King's Story, 1965 (narrator only)
In Paris Burning?, 1966
A Man for All Seasons, 1966
I'll Never Forget Whatshisname, 1967
Casino Royale, 1967
The Sailor from Gilbratar, 1967
Oedipus the King, 1968
Kampf um Rom, 1968
House of Cards, 1969
The Southern Star, 1969
Barbed Water, 1969 (narrator only)
Una Su 13, 1969
Michael the Brave, 1969
The Kremlin Letter, 1970
Start the Revolution Without Me, 1970 (narrator only)
The Battle of Neretva, 1970
Catch 22, 1970
Directed by John Ford, 1971 (documentary, narrator only)
Sentinels of Silence, 1971 (narrator only)
A Safe Place, 1971
Get to Know Your Rabbit, 1972
Canterbury Tales, 1972
Treasure Island, 1972 (as Long John Silver)
Ten Days Wonder, 1975 (narrator)
Bugs Bunny Superstar, 1975
Challenge of Greatness, 1976 (narrator only)
The Other Side of the Wind, 1976 (unfinished)
Voyage of the Damned, 1976
The Filming of Othello, 1978
The Late Great Planet Earth, 1979 (co-narrator only)
The Muppet Movie, 1979
It Happened One Christmas, 1979 (TV)
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, 1981
Someone to Love, 1987 (released posthumously)
Orson Welles Photos
Click on photo for larger version.
A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.
A good artist should be isolated. If he isn't isolated, something is wrong.
Almost all serious stories in the world are stories of failure with a death in it.
But there is more lost paradise in them than defeat.
Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch.
By nature, I am an experimentalist. I don't believe much in accomplishment.
Cinema as a means of expression fascinates me.
Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable
Criticism is the essence of creation.
Ecstasy is not really part of the scene we can do on celluloid.
Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him.
Every true artist must, in his own way, be a magician, a charlatan.
Everybody denies I am a genius but nobody ever called me one!
Everything I do today took me 25 years!
Fake is as old as the Eden tree.
For thirty years people have been asking me how I reconcile X with Y! The truthful answer is that I don't. Everything about me is a contradiction and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There is a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don't reconcile the poles. You just recognize them.
Friendship creates only the illusion of not being alone.
Gluttony is not a secret vice.
He is as unaffected as Albert Einstein.
Hollywood expects you to experiment but on a film that makes money and if you don't make money, you're to blame. Your job is to make money.
Hollywood is a gold-plated suburb suitable for golfers, gardeners, assorted middlemen, and contented movies stars. I am none of these things.
Hollywood is the only industry, even taking in soup companies, which does not have laboratories for the purpose of experimentation.
I discovered at the age of six that everything was a phony, worked with mirrors. Since then, I've always wanted to be a magician.
I do not suppose I shall be remembered for anything. But I don't think about my work in those terms. It is just as vulgar to work for the sake of posterity as to work for the sake of money.
I don't pray because I don't want to bore God.
I don't say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could.
I don't want any description of me to be accurate; I want it to be flattering. I don't think people who have to sing for their supper ever like to be described truthfully - not in print anyway. We need to sell tickets, so we need good reviews.
I feel I have to protect myself against things. So I'm pretty careful to lose most of them.
I hate it when people pray on the screen. It's not because I hate praying, but whenever I see an actor fold his hands and look up in the spotlight, I'm lost. There's only one other thing in the movies I hate as much, and that's sex. You just can't get in bed or pray to God and convince me on the screen.
I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.
I hate women, hate them generally, not in particular but in an abstract way. I hate them because one never really learns anything about them. They are inscrutable.
I have a great love and respect for religion, great love and respect for atheism. What I hate is agnosticism, people who do not choose.
I have an unfortunate personality.
I have the terrible feeling that, because I am wearing a white beard and am sitting in the back of the theatre, you expect me to tell you the truth about something. These are the cheap seats, not Mount Sinai.
I love informality. I hate dressing up. I hate to be conventional and I hate every kind of snob.
I passionately hate the idea of being with it, I think an artist has always
to be out of step with his time.
I seem to have no dress sense at all. I'm always being listed in New York among one of the ten worst dressed men of the year. Someone once described me as "looking like an unmade bed." He was right!
I started at the top and worked my way down.
I think we're a kind of desperation. We're sort of a maddening luxury. The
basic and essential human is the woman, and all that we're doing is trying to
brighten up the place. That's why all the birds who belong to our sex have prettier
feathers because males have got to try and justify their existence.
I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them
too much and they won't contribute anything themselves. Give them just a
suggestion and you get them working with you. That's what gives the theater
meaning: when it becomes a social act.
I'd make my promises now if I wasn't so busy arranging to keep them.
If I want to pursue the art of painting or music or writing or sculpture it
requires only my time and a few dollars for materials. If, however, I want to
produce a motion picture I have to go out and raise a million dollars!
If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat,
because we made civilization in order to impress our girl friends. And they
tolerated it and let us go ahead and play with our toys.
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your
I'm a lurid character!
In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder,
bloodshed they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.
In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and peace,
and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!
It would be so much better if the critics would come, not on first nights, but
on last nights, when they could exercise their undoubted flair for funeral orations.
Living in the lap of luxury isn't bad, except you never know when luxury is
going to stand up.
Make up an extra copy of that picture and send it to the Chronicle.
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when called upon to act
in accordance with the dictates of reason.
Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre.
My definition of success is not having things thrown at me!
My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are
three other people.
Nobody who takes on anything big and tough can afford to be modest.
Now I'm an old Christmas tree, the roots of which have died. They just come along and while the little needles fall off me replace them with medallions.
Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations.
Nowadays, people's interest in motion pictures is restricted to wanting to know whether Veronica Lake's hair is all her own. I don't see how it could be.
Only in a police state is the job of a policeman easy.
Only very intelligent people don't wish they were in politics, and I'm dumb enough to want to be in there.
Paris is the playwright's delight. New York is the home of directors. London, however, is the actor's city, the only one in the world. In London, actors are given their head.
Race hate isn't human nature; race hate is the abandonment of human nature.
The best thing commercially, which is the worst artistically, by and large, is the most successful.
The director is simply the audience. So the terrible burden of the director is to take the place of that yawning vacuum, to be the audience and to select from what happens during the day which movement shall be a disaster and which a gala night. His job is to preside over accidents.
The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
The enemy of society is middle class and the enemy of life is middle age.
The essential is to excite the spectators. If that means playing Hamlet on a flying trapeze or in an aquarium, you do it.
The ideal American type is perfectly expressed by the Protestant, individualist, anti-conformist, and this is the type that is in the process of disappearing. In reality there are few left.
The most personal thing I've put in [Touch of Evil] is my hatred of the abuse of police power. It's better to see a murderer go free than for a policeman to abuse his power.
[The movies] make the sort of comment only a novel can make, an allusion to the world in which people live, the psychological and economic motivations, the influences of the period in which they lived.
The trouble with a movie is that it's old before it's released. It's no accident that it comes in a can.
The word genius was whispered into my ear, the first thing I ever heard, while I was still mewling in my crib. So it never occurred to me that I wasn't until middle age.
There are a thousand ways of playing a good classic. If it were effective, I would play Hamlet on a trapeze.
There are three intolerable things in life cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women.
They teach you anything in universities today. You can major in mud pies.
Today I believe that man cannot escape his destiny to create whatever it is
we make jazz, a wooden spoon, or graffiti on the wall. All of these are
expressions of man's creativity, proof that man has not yet been destroyed by
technology. But are we making things for the people of our epoch or repeating
what has been done before? And finally, is the question itself important? We must
ask ourselves that. The most important thing is always to doubt the importance of
We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and
friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.
When you are down and out something always turns up and it is usually the
noses of your friends.
You could write all the IDEAS of all the movies, my own included, on the head
of a pin.
You long-faced, over-dressed anarchist!
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