Just stumbled across this Q&A at a Vincent Price tribute site. Here are a couple of quotes from Lawrence French's 1979 interview with Price à propos Orson Welles:
"Welles was a marvelous director. I did two plays with him, THE SHOEMAKER'S HOLIDAY and HEARTBREAK HOUSE. He was a really brilliant director, although I never thought he was a very good actor. I mean he's too Orson Welles. There's absolutely no characterization at all. More he did when he was young, than he does now, because he really is a caricature of himself now. I mean, that fat!"
"I think (Welles had a fear of completion). Like Michelangelo. I think he could have been the greatest director of the American theater and of the cinema, but there was something missing there."
It's strange how Welles predicts his own fate in The Magnificent Ambersons. He strongly identifies with Mama's boy George Minafer, a spoiled, undisciplined youth who is utterly ruined and humiliated later in life. No wonder. During Welles' childhood and adolescence, he never heard a discouraging word from his elders about his limitless potential. His guardians and mentors never prepared this child prodigy for adversity, rejection and failure.
George Minafer and Orson Welles both get their comeuppance three times over. However, in his fall down the social ladder, George discovers decency and humility and a sense of responsibility for others; he deeply regrets keeping his mother and Eugene Morgan apart, and volunteers for dangerous work with explosives in order to make more money so he can pay for Aunt Fanny's lodgings in her grim boarding house.
In The Battle Over Citizen Kane, writer Richard France notes that courting controversy paid off for Welles until he locked horns with William Randolph Hearst. Big mistake, France says. Horrible consequences for the next 45 years of Welles' life. Much as I feel sorry for Welles, I can't say I'm surprised at his descending career arc, the way his life tails off and tails off and tails off, as Robert Wise puts it. Welles wasn't easy to work with as a young man, despite the astonishing results he brought to his stage and radio productions. Such hubris invites the fates to retaliate, as I'm sure Welles himself realized before the fact, being a scholar of the Bible and Shakespeare.
When interviewed in 1982, Welles seems saddened by memories of his struggles after his exile from Hollywood. The earlier confidence and arrogance are long gone. Welles' whole demeanor is different (slightly wounded and baffled). He doesn't even sound like his younger self – his voice is wheezy, quavering, hesitant. There is barely any resemblance between the old Welles and the young firebrand who achieved in only five years a measure of fame and record of achievement in the arts that has yet to be duplicated. France points out that we forget how famous Welles was in his prime. He was as well known in Depression-era America as President Franklin D. Roosevelt!
Nearing the end, Welles almost seems to be admitting that he needed more than one lesson, and that he got more than one lesson... as Boss Jim W. Gettys predicted would happen to Charles Foster Kane.