Another pair of highly thought-provoking posts - many thanks.
mido505 wrote:I am going to go out on a limb and play devil's advocate for Gomez here.
I shan't take the bait! Much as I disagree with some of the underlying assumptions, I think it would be ill-advised to risk wading into potentially libelous remarks on a written forum about any of the principals involved. There are written accounts. The written accounts are inconsistent, and it's perfectly "fair comment" for us to point out the inconsistencies in such accounts - but I'm going to avoid definitively coming down on one side or another with a firm conclusion. It's in this spirit that I write.
I have a major question relating to all of the below (which perhaps Josh Karp can answer in his book) : Are there surviving production records? Yes, Welles was famously disorganised where paperwork was concerned, but the decades of litigation must have left a paper trail, and Astrophore must have retained their correspondence. What happened to it? Does Dominique Antoine have paperwork? Or Oja Kodar? Or Peter Bogdanovich, after 15+ years of trying to broker a settlement with all parties? I suspect that as long as we rely on recollections made by different parties years after the fact, we'll get these huge discrepancies over major issues, which will only be resolved if we can see the production records.
mido505 wrote:If Gomez had in fact advanced Welles a substantial sum of money during their early association, when he was setting up the Iranian financing, as a loan and not an investment, that would explain a lot.
It would. But the problems I have in fully accepting this argument are:
(a) nobody has ever said Gómez advanced the production money. Far from it, the Leaming account asserts that although he pledged to invest $350,000 (something Gómez now denies), he never paid any of his own money, and that the only small sums of money received from him had allegedly been taken out of the Iranian money.
(b) if this were the case, I would be astonished that Gómez doesn't at least try to say so.
mido505 wrote:Given Astrophore's proven contentious behavior, had Gomez really stolen $250,000.00, they would have put him in jail, period.
This isn't proof one way or the other. Firstly, assuming there had been any kind of a crime, it would have been near-impossible to get as far as even bringing charges, given the jurisdictions involved: Iranian funds for a French-registered production company with a Spanish producer allegedly collecting funds in France, an American director in Spain, and filming in the United States. Where would you even begin? Extradition proceedings in Spain? Where to? 1970s Iran, where no-one would get a fair trial, and no European government would agree to extradite a citizen? No chance. Furthermore, Welles told Leaming that the supposed money handed over was all in cash - that raises the question of what sort of receipts existed, and the ease with which such large sums of cash could have been disposed of. Furthermore, Gómez insists he was never an investor, but Welles said that he was - if he had been, then it's very difficult to know at what stage Astrophore would have reached a tipping point, and would have started prosecuting, since that would have been the stage at which they'd have given up on receiving Gómez's alleged funds, jeopardising the entire project which would need re-financing mid-production.
mido505 wrote:Gomez, in his memoir, makes the telling point that he has a contract, signed by Welles, stating that his role was that of producer, not investor.
Yes, that's an important point - but again, it proves nothing. A producer can also be an investor (and an investor can insist on being made at least an executive producer). Part of the producer's role involves securing finance to get the project off the ground, whether it's external funding, or their own money. Unless Gómez's producer contract contains a clause specifically stating "You will not provide any funds for this project", then this doesn't prove anything either way.
mido505 wrote:Astrophore, on the other hand, seems to have turned against Welles around this time, demanding an ever increasing share of the film in return for more funds. This is the period in which Welles lost control of his own film.
My reading is that Welles privately financed through to early '73, when this agreement was signed, Gómez withdrew in early '74 (circa March?), that completion funds first became an issue in '75 when he made his appeal at the AFI, but according to McBride's account, the real deadlock and loss of control was in '76.
Regarding the Rosenbaum timeline, there is an inconsistency in it. He writes that John Huston was only cast in January 1974, but my copy of Ronald Gottesman's "Focus on Orson Welles" reproduces an LA Times interview with Welles, dated 12 May 1973, in which he states he's just come back from filming in Arizona with John Huston. This is the period which we seem to think Welles was in Spain. Of course, the Gottesman book might just have a typo on the date... (I haven't looked up the original article.)
mido505 wrote:In late 1971, Welles takes a break to shoot and complete F FOR FAKE.
Yes, Welles had serious tax trouble with the IRS around this time, and rapidly needed to work to pay his tax debt. It may have been politically motivated, given Nixon was up for re-election in '72, and there are numerous other instances of the Nixon administration ordering tax audits on political "enemies" in the entertainment industry as disparate as John Lennon, Paul Newman and Barbara Streisand. Or Welles might just have owed a lot of taxes.
mido505 wrote:Please note that most accounts of the financing of TOSOTW state that the production agreement signed at this time specified that Welles would provide 1/3 of the budget, Astrophore 1/3, and Gomez 1/3.
Yes, though the Leaming account is that Welles put up more than $700,000, while Gómez and Astrophore were meant to put up around $350,000 each - 50/25/25 rather than 33/33/33; and that Astrophore ended up putting up more than 50%, and claiming ownership of 80% of the profits.
You're right to ask about Hellwig's role. I've never heard his name in connection with the film before. It sounds like someone ought to interview him. Again, Josh Karp, we need you!
mido505 wrote:According to Gomez, Welles stayed in Madrid for 5 months, and in Paris for 2. With business wrapped up, both, along with a million in cash and some Cuban cigars, set off for Arizona to resume filming. This accords with the Rosenbaum timeline, which states that filming resumed in Arizona in 1973, with Huston finally cast as Jake Hannaford.
No, the Rosenbaum timeline makes no mention of Arizona filming in '73. The only '73 filming mentioned is in Orvilliers & Paris from June to mid-September 1973. Then Rosenbaum writes that in January 1974 they started filming in Carefree
, Arizona for 3 months (so until April?), with John Huston, who "comes for the last six weeks". The 1973 Arizona dates are from the May 1973 LA Times interview with Welles reproduced in "Focus on Orson Welles". In it, Welles says he's just come back from filming with Huston in Phoenix
, Arizona. Since two separate places in Arizona are mentioned, I don't think the date is a typo. But if Welles was in Phoenix in April/May '73, that doesn't fit in with 5 months in Spain, then 2 months in Paris (which tallies with Orvilliers in June to mid-September '73), followed by 3 months in Arizona from January '74. Gómez says the early '74 Arizona shoot went on for 6 months, while Rosenbaum says 3 months. The only possible way I might square this would be that Gómez doesn't mention the 4-month break between the 2 months in Paris, and the Carefree, Arizona shoot. It's therefore possible he also doesn't mention a break between Spain and Paris, during which time Welles surfaces in Phoenix, Arizona to shoot some scenes with a newly-cast Huston.