Orson and Oja: An Artistic Relationship: 1962- 1985
Here's a list of Orson and Oja's projects together; at the very least, this was a "star-crossed" affair.
1962: While filming "The Trial" in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, OW meets Olga Palinkas: an inteligent and beautiful sculptor, actress, TV anchor-person, and writer, of Croation heritage. OW writes her a letter, but declines to give it to her.
1966: OW and OK meet again in Paris; OW gives her the letter he had written but not presented to her in 1962; he had been carrying it in his pocket for four years.
1967: The filming of The Deep begins; OW and "Oja Kodar" (Orson has renamed her) star in this picture, along with Lawrence Harvey and Jeanne Moreau. The picture continues to be filmed intermittently from 1967 to 1969; there are rumours that Moreau and Kodar don't get along.The picture is abandoned sometime in 1969.
1968: Paris: OW/OK write a script based on Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Masque of the Red Death"; this is intended for the anthology film "Spirits of the Dead". This is their first script collaboration, but it was not filmed.
Welles begins shooting an anthology film of his favourite author, Isak Dinesen; the first part, "The Immortal Story", starring OW and Jeanne Moreau, is completed, but a second part, "The Heroine", starring OK, is halted after one day's shooting in Budapest when the producer goes bankrupt. The other two stories, "A Country Tale" and "The Deluge at Nordernay" are never begun.
1969: "Merchant of Venice": (edited for TV episode): OW wanted OK for "Portia", but OK refused.
OW writes a script (title unknown) about female pirates intended for Pearl Bailey, Jane Fonda and OK; this was never filmed.
"Because of the Cats": a script collaboration between OW and OK (never filmed).
1970: An Italian gossip magazine publishes a story and pictures on OW's and OK's affair; OW quickly hides OK in a hotel and angrily departs from Italy, never to work again with his Italian film crew which had shot "Arkadin", "Don Quixote", "Chimes", and "Merchant of Venice". Back in America, OW begins shooting "The Other Side of the Wind", based on a 1966 script entitled "The Sacred Beasts". The picture stars OK, in a part originally written for Jeanne Moreau.
1971: Filming "F for Fake" is begun; the picture is based on a script by OW/OK. The Picasso episode, which stars OK, is itself based on an OK short story, written in 1962, called "Girl Watching".
OW/OK adapt a recent story by OK into a script "Crazy Weather". They also begin an adaptation of Paul Theroux's "Saint Jack" (which is filmed by Bogdanovich in 1979). (both never filmed)
1975: "F for Fake" released (This is, sadly, the only OW/OK collaboration to ever be completed and released.)
1976: "The Other Side of the Wind": principal photography completed.
OW begins filming "The Magic Show"; OK helps as performer and assistant director.(never completed)
OW films a 9 minute trailer for the U.S. release of "F for Fake", which mainly comprises new material featuring OW and OK. (never used)
1977: OW and OK write a script adaptation of Graham Greene's "The Honorary Consul" entitled "The Other Man". (never filmed)
OW, OK and Gary Graver write a screenplay adaptation of Jim Thompson's "A Hell of a Woman", entitled "Dead Giveaway".(never filmed)
Ow/OK write a screenplay adaptation of Donald Freed's biography of Sirhan Sirhan, entitled "The Assassin". (never filmed)
1978: OW/OK write a screenplay "Da Capo" based on two stories by Isak Dinesen: "The Dreamers" and "Echoes". This screenplay was later retitled "The Dreamers".
1980: Filming of "The Dreamers" begins in OW's house, with OK and GG.
1981: OW/OK write "The Big Brass Ring", an original script, at the urging of Henry Jaglom. BBR is partly based on a story written c. 1974 by OK called "Ivanka". Part of this script comes from the letter from OW to OK that he carried around for 4 years, and the central character is based on an old idea of OW's. The "BBR" script is published after OW's death in 1987; the script is filmed by George Hickenlooper in 1998.
1985: OW shoots a short promo film for "King Lear", which will star OW and OK as Cordelia. Funding is promised by the French government, but the project falls through just prior to Welle's death.
OW begins a script based on a short story by OK called "Mercedes".(never filmed)
"Someone to Love": Both OW and OK star in Henry Jaglom's picture; the Jaglom method allows the actors to improvise their lines within the story.
"The Dreamers": Shot intermittently during 1980, 1981, and 1982, the last work done is in September. (never completed)
"The Magic Show": Filmed occasionally since 1976, this TV show featuring OW and OK, among others, is being filmed and re-scripted during the last week of OW's life.(never finished)
November 4th: During her speech at OW's memorial, OK lambastes the French government for sabatoging "King Lear" .
1986: On her way to a screening of "In the Land of Don Quixote", Paola Welles is killed in a car crash. She was scheduled to meet Oja Kodar 2 days later to sign an agreement for an amicable settlement for both sides. This tragedy set up the situation, unresolved to this day, which sees Beatrice Welles attempting to control the entire Welles estate.
What can we say about this creative partnership? Out of at least 15 collaborative projects worked on over a period of 20 years, the OW/OK partnership saw just one script through to completion and release: "F for Fake". Was OK just a hanger-on, largely without talent, who helped destroy a great man? There are those who think so. Or was she a person who inspired Welles, emotionally, sexually, and artistically? The relationship of John Lennon and Yoko Ono comes to mind, as there is the same controversy regarding that relationship. Was Oja a bad luck charm, or the muse which kept Welles going for the last 23 years of his life? Did Oja supply something to OW emotionally which satisfied him in some mysterious way, blunting his artistic ambition? Or did they just experience woeful bad luck, effected far more by Pauline Kael,Charles Higham and certain producers, than by any actions of their own?
What do you think?
Please note: 95% of this material has been culled from Jonathan Rosenbaum's career chronology of OW in "This is OW", 1st edition.