When a bit player is murdered on the film set, Welles' love of mystery gets the better of him and, with the help of his driver, an ex-cop called Tommaso, he turns amateur sleuth.
The duo discover Welles' name is on a hit list in a conspiracy that goes right to the top.
...Based on Italian Davide Ferrario's novel and initially adapted as a screenplay by John Sayles, "Fade to Black" fictionalizes Orson Welles' visit to Rome after the breakup of his marriage to Rita Hayworth. While in Rome, he acted in "Black Magic" and tried to raise money for his next film, "Othello."
Sayles and later Parker himself used these real-life facts to weave a plot that's part murder mystery, part love triangle and part political conspiracy.
"There are hints of 'The Third Man' but really the story feels like it's Orson Welles stuck in a film of his own creation. I'm fascinated by the theme of truth vs. illusion and it's the perfect material to have Orson as a character. So many of his films are nearly all about 'Is it fact or fiction?'" explains Parker who, like Welles, has adapted "Othello" for the bigscreen...
...(Danny) Huston remembers how his father, legendary helmer John Huston, took him when he was a teen to have lunch with Welles at what is now Ago restaurant in L.A. "He and my father loved each other. (Welles) was eating a tremendous amount, which I guess was a symptom of his desire for affection but also of self-loathing."
Huston says the character he's creating in this film is an amalgamation of the Welles he knew, but also of his father and parts of himself. "And anyone who knows the desperation of trying to get your film financed. In this scene right now I have to say hello to potential financiers and do a bit of ass-licking, even though I'd like to have a quiet meal. I know that world, it's the world I grew up in."
Or as Huston, who has directed films, puts it: "You have to use it. Welles had such a hard time making 'Othello' in Morocco because he had all the actors but no costumes. So he did a scene in a Turkish bath where they could be naked. When you're making an independent film, necessity is the mother of invention."
Did you ever meet Welles?
I met him a couple of times, but obviously later in his life than the age I am playing. It was in L.A., and it was a hot, hot summer, and he was eating a lot. I remember my father being slightly taken aback by the amount that was being consumed. They worked together on a picture called "The Other Side of the Wind" that was never released. They are still trying to get it released. Unfortunately, it was one of the brothers of the shah who financed that.
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