Tony: I WAS describing the footage I saw, as far as I'm able, and as far as I'm willing because the whole matter is the stuff of several legal actions right now, most of which I have little knowledge of. Do you get that?
And no, I don't speak from any "exhalted position," but the material cries out for the kind of synopsis I gave you.
What the hell good would it have done, if I had meticulously described every frame I saw, to the limits of my memory, adding a couple of pages to my post? Would someone not have said: "Oh, it's just Glenn again. I always scroll down after the first of one of his paragraphs"?
The hell with it. Go back and CAREFULLY read what I wrote for you. I know what I saw, and I tried to give you a clue. But you don't have one, evidently, nor do you want one!
Todd Baesen: I always defer to you because it was you who slipped into the Burbank Film Repository, and in ten days, using a pen-lite and 4, 952 video-catches on your cell-phone camera, copied all the existing footage of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. Within an old beer cooler, down the cellar stairs under the Ha-Ra Club, you have the goods, in its next cutting-edge format: Cell-ar-Vision!
There may be some truth, Todd, that Miss Kodar suggested the title, but as Hadji remarks, her explanation is anticlimactic as to the title's meaning. The ripeness of the title is all. Just as Schaefer is supposed to have given CITIZEN KANE its title, off the top of his head, meaning more than he knew. The meaning of the metaphor runs on several levels, as I shall attempt to demonstrate for those of you who demand more proof, and can stay focussed long enough.
But I quite agree, Todd, that the average producer would have a tough time with a synopsis of Welles' "The Other Side of the Wind," far less the script itself because only the ghosts of indications for the films within the film are indicated. For instance:
P. 4 -- The FLASHBACKS [my emphasis] begin with Jake shooting a scene for his movie in progress, depicting a Turkish steam bath. . . .
P. 5 -- . . . The viewer only becomes aware we are on a sound stage watching a movie being filmed when director JAKE HANNAFORD'S [John Huston's] voice rings out, bringing the scene to an end.
Okay . . . Cut!
P. 12 -- MAX DAVID [Geoffrey Land, very good in this film], the latest (and who knows, maybe the last) big chief of one of the last big movie companies, stands in front of a blank screen . . . .
P. 16 -- . . . Elsewhere some of the girls (the nudes from the steambath) are grouped around old MANOLITO [Benny Rubin?] (JAKE'S pet gypsy musician -- who is supposed to play the part of a mysterious OLD MAN in his FILM).
[Here, I think, rather like Paul Misraki's score for CONFIDENTIAL REPORT/MR. ARKADIN, is the main score for THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND.]
P. 20 -- A MOVIE SCREEN IN THE STUDIO PROJECTION ROOM
The lights go out. THE FILM begins. BILLY O'BOYLE [Norman Foster, type casting] sitting behind MAX DAVID, is doing his best to act as interpreter, salesman and apologist.
During this sequence we see scenes from Jake's film, which features Hannaford's newest male discovery, JOHNNY DALE [Bob Random] along with an attractive young INDIAN ACTRESS [Oja Kodar]. These scenes are intercut . . . .
P. 21 -- On screen, the young and alluring INDIAN ACTRESS walks out of a building and gets into the passenger side of a car. JOHN DALE watches her, and as her car drives away gets on his motorcycle to follow her.
P. 22 -- MAX
(Sarcastically, but not
Oh, you old guys are trying to
get with it. Is that what this
movie is about?
BILLY can't think of an answer.
No? Well, just what is it about?
I'll try to explain, Max --
as we go along . . .
JAKE'S CAR (DRIVING TO THE PARTY)
P. 26 -- MAX
And the girl? How does the box feel
THE ACTRESS (DRIVING HER OWN CAR) .
Like everyone else, she is on her way to the birthday party.
TRUMAN LOCKWOOD [?] is sitting beside her with his camera . . . and LUCAS RENARD [?] holding a tape recorder. JAKE'S car comes to a stop next to her car. They're both waiting for a traffic light.
OTTERLAKE [Peter Bogdanovich]
(aside to Jake)
Pocahontas . . .
P. 27 -- THE FILM (ON SCREEN AT THE STUDIO PROJECTION ROOM)
Mirroring the previous scene, JOHN DALE (on his motorcycle)
pulls up besides the INDIAN PRINCESSES car stopped at the traffic
light. DALE stares at her through the car window, but she looks
straight ahead, pretending not to notice him.
I do not want to encourage ADD or premature Alzheimer's, but I've elided the early continuity, and you can see how the film could work marvelously on several levels here. [Yes, Tony, including an obviously autobiographical one.] There is a lot of wind and dust. The action is in the desert, both in the flashback from Jake's burnt out sports car at the start, and in Jake's movie within the flashback, and most of the cast is heading for Jake's birthday party at a largely abandoned drive-in movie theater up in the high desert (shades of TARGETS). There is wind and sand blowing around [in the footage I've seen].
Let's cut to the final chase because I'm no doubt losing some of you (not you, Hadji, Kevin or rizibo -- but Baesen tends to nod off):
P. 157 -- THE RANCH
The real JOHN DALE moving through the empty house . . .
The voice of the handy-man can be heard calling again: "Mr. Hannaford . . . " Silence at first, then murmuring from another room . . .
. . . remember those Berbers - up in
the Atlas Mountains? They wouldn't
let us POINT a camera at 'em. They're
certain that it . . . dries up something
in the soul . . .
Following the sound of JAKE'S VOICE, JOHN DALE moves into:
THE BIG ROOM
Here sprawled in a huge leather chair, HIGGAM is sleeping , his tape recorder is on his lap . . .
. . . The old eye, Y'know, behind the
magic box. Could be it's an evil eye,
at that . . . The Medusa's eye . . .
Whatever I look upon finally dies
under my gaze . . .
P. 158 --
THE DRIVE-IN THEATER
A deserted field, except for THE ACTRESS sitting alone in her
little car . . .
The wailing wind and the gypsy song on the theatre's sound track
are joined by the wailing of police sirens - heard very
distantly . . .
The sky is clear enough to show the hint of a black pillar of
smoke somewhere far off . . .
ON SCREEN: The moving images fade under the pallor of
the rising day . . .
THE ACTRESS starts up her car and drives away.
P. 159 -- On screen THE ACTRESS seems like a ghost as she returns to the shapeless wreck which is all that's left of the OLD MAN'S
For a moment longer - dim as the image itself - there rises from
somewhere beneath this ruin the gypsy lament.
But already the wind is blowing it away . . . Blowing everything
away . . . Layer upon layer flies off into the sky . . . And then, as
the great dust settles --
[I am indebted to Colonel Viktor Kleinhaagen of Quarto Negro, who procured the above script for Todd Baesen, when he was "Grand Bungler of Knights of the Red Branch, in 1988. Having buried the script, wrapped in oil cloth, at Wyatt Earp's grave in Colma, California, he served time for crimes committed as "Grand Bungler." Recently paroled for all the interviews he has conducted from his jail cell, or on safe conduct, he unearthed it with my help one dark and stormy night. The manuscript is now in safe-keeping at "The Miles and Irma Archer Memorial Information Center," of which I am curator.]
I won't give away the ending, gang. Bad luck, I think. Sorry, but them's the breaks, especially given your recent greetings. But some of you will know the ending already. Very ironic, in view of what we now understand.
Hadji: Yes, me lad! Yes, all of that! Or most of it, anyway.
You are into it now: "The Other Side of the Wind" as Metaphor!
On the one side of the wind is the crazy reality of a good Welles film, and on the other, a surrealistic psychodrama such as Antonioni [or some depressed Eastern European or . . . Dennis Hopper!!] might have made at the time. All those turgid films critics praised back then, and no one can remember now.
The passage about the wind in the drive-in theater parking lot that I've just transcribed above may very well be taken from David O. Selznick's prophecy of what would happen eventually to the Old Hollywood: It would just blow away, he said, like the fake sets of a bogus Egyptian dynasty.
[To become E-Channel: "The Life and Death of Anna Nicole Smith."]
And to the title, Hadji:
My guess is that "The Other Side of the Wind" derives, as a title, many pardons to Oja Kodar, from what is supposed to be an old Irish farewell: "May the wind always be at your back." Meaning that, with the wind behind you as you climb a hill, sail your boat into new adventures, or make a new kind of movie, God, the Devine, Luck, Vigor, will undoubtedly assist you. But what if the wind is against you, or if you are at slack water? Then, you are on the other side of the wind. That's where this story, this film, and Welles' life seem to have been during the years it was shot, and ever since.
[This saying was uttered by many a celtic visitor on TV after the death of JFK, and then of RFK, in the Sixties, and later by TV hosts like Merv Griffin. Both Welles and Huston would have liked to put an ironic twist on its sincere but slightly fatuous message.]
To those who say THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND would be old fashioned or out of date, I would reply that its truth applies every much to the phenomenon of Anna Nicole Smith (a kind of a media stereotype of a stereotype) this evening as it did to Welles, the Wonder Kids and the Old Hollywood. Turns out, the latter were much closer to the real thing.