Here's John Huston's chapter on OSOTW from his autiobiography. It sounds to me like he approved of the film, although somebody mentioned he was trying to keep the film from ever being shown - seems unlikely if, as Bogdanovich claimed, he gave the performance of his career.
I think it was in 1969, during the filming of THE KREMLIN LETTER that Orson Welles asked me to play the lead in a picture he was going to direct. He'd had the idea for some time—-now he was going to write the script. "I think I'm going to call it THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. How do you like that for a title?"
"Will it be possible for you to star in about six months?"
I told him that we could certainly work something out, but six months went by and I heard nothing more. It must have been at least a year later that I learned that Orson was filming a picture called THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND. I shrugged it off, thinking the picture had taken a different turn, and Orson had had seconds thoughts about me. He was reportedly in Switzerland shooting scenes with Lilli Palmer. But a short time later he phoned me.
"John, will it be possible for you to start in about six weeks?"
"Good. I'll send you the script right away."
"But, Orson, I understand you've been shooting already."
"Yes…yes… I've been shooting the scenes your aren't in, and the other half of the scenes you are in."
"Well…for instance, with Lilli Palmer… I'm shooting her half of scenes in which she has conversations with you . I'll do your half later."
"Jesus, Orson, I've never heard of anything like that!"
"Oh, yes, it will work perfectly. I'll get the script to you right away."
That was the last I heard of the project for another year or two.
I was out in California when the director Peter Bogdanovich, a great champion of Orson's, called me. He said that Orson was going to shoot my scenes in Arizona and, if I could make it, Orson would lay plans accordingly. I said, "Well, I still haven't seen the script."
"As a matter of fact, there isn't any script. There's a kind of outline. Does it make all that much difference to you whether you see a script or not?"
"John, a lot of it is done right on the spot. You know how Orson is."
I'm of the school that believes you should proceed regardless script if you have faith in a director. I confess to being a little sensitive when I ask an actor to do something and he say, "Show me the script." He has every right, of course, but still l like the idea of an actor putting himself entirely in the director's hands.
I proceeded to do so, reporting in accordance with this latest schedule, and found an entire company living in a motel outside of Scottsdale. Orson received me with open arms and a great show of affection. I'm very fond of Orson. l have enormous admiration for him as an actor and a director, and the figure he cuts delight me. Here he was in a full-length purple bathrobe, and I don't think I ever saw him outside that bathrobe the whole time we were filming. It was a regal color, befitting Orson, and, sans crown, he was indeed majestic.
Orson was smoking the big cigars, and the wine was flowing. I don't mean there was any dissipation; quite the contrary. But it was a convivial affair. There were two handmaidens with Orson. One was acting in the film, and the other was a Jill-of-all-trades. These two put the lunches together, as well as the midnight suppers when we went on shooting into the night at a big house Orson has rented in the nearby town of Carefree. There were a number of cameras in evidence. Orson has a first cameraman and a second and a third, but I very quickly discovered that Orson was really the first cameraman himself. By the same token, he was his own gaffer. There were electricians around, but Orson placed the lights. There was a sound man whom Orson showed how he wanted the mixing done.
Orson had come up with an ingenious idea. It was to tell the story through cameras being held in the hands of persons being filmed by the major cameras. The plot concerns a director (my role in the film) who comes to the end of his rope. Orson denied that it was autobiographical in any way, nor was it biographical as far as I was concerned. There was indeed no script. Orson gave me a few pages containing several long speeches, but he said not to be concerned about learning them. When the time came, he would just write them on a blackboard behind the camera and I could read them. But while I'm not all that good at memorizing, I still believe that actors should know their lines. Orson saw me later studying these speeches on the set. "John, you're just causing yourself unnecessary agony. Just read the lines or forget them and say what you please. The idea is all that matters." Things were somewhat complicated by the fact that during the filming I'd be saying them to a stand-in Orson instead of to Lilli Palmer, who was far away in Switzerland.
Most of the action took place during a big party to celebrate the director's birthday. It was attended by news cameramen, reporters, and people with whom he had long been associated. The whole purpose of the occasion was to pin down the financing for a three-quarters-finished picture, a situation that did put me in mind of Orson himself. There was always a camera on the director during the course of the festivities. They follow him everywhere, even into the toilet. It's through these various cameras—what they see—that the story is told. The changes from one to another—color, black and white, still, and moving—make for a dazzling variety of effects.
Orson's next-door neighbor turned out to be a drunk who didn't quite know what was going on but suspected some kind of orgy. He appeared periodically and threatened everyone, and even once brought the police in. They recognized Orson and me and were duly respectful. Leading the gentleman from next door back to his own premises. After that he stood in his own driveway, shaking his fist and swearing at us. It added an appropriately bizarre note.
Orson ran out of cigars. I was a cigar-smoker, too, and though mine were not quite as big, full-bodied and rich as Orson's Havanas, he was reduced to smoking them. It crossed my mind that maybe Orson was also running out of money. The fleeting thought later proved to have substance. The inflow of funds for the picture was from Spain and Iran, and the Spanish leg man absconded with a vast sum. Undoubtedly shaken, but undaunted, Orson plowed on.
It was a delight working with him. Sometimes the scene being shot would be too hilariously funny for Orson to contain himself, and he'd break it up with his laughter. This might well have been by design: he simply wanted to cut. I wouldn't put it past him.
There was an exterior to be shot in which the director was driving a car. I haven't driven in many years. I know how to drive, but I don't like driving, particularly in cities. I like my drink and I don't think driving and drinking mix, so I've made it a rule never to touch the wheel. However, since it was required, I obliged. The director was supposed to be driving rather recklessly. I gave them all they wanted in that respect. Inadvertently I got onto a freeway going in the wrong direction, against traffic. The car was full—Orson, technicians, cameramen and myself—and the cameras were going all the while. I saw there was no fence between the freeways, so I swerved up over the curbing, crossed the dividing area and joined the flow of traffic on the other side. There was dead silence in the car for a while, and then a concerted sigh. "Thanks, John, that'll do," Orson said.
We finished shooting in Carefree except for a few effect shots that Orson planned to take elsewhere, shots that didn't require actors. I left, having had a wonderful time, and admiring Orson and his whole modus operandi. Some months later the incomplete picture was shown to a selected audience. Orson still didn't have the funds to finish it. I didn't get to see it, but those who did tell me it is a knockout. Unfortunately, there are problems. The picture is owned by a half-dozen different investors, some of whom, God help us, are Iranians. About two weeks more shooting is needed to finish. It's about as complicated a situation as a picture can get into. Bogdanovich at first assured me that everything would be cleared up. Now I'm beginning to wonder, and I think Peter is, too.
Orson has a wholly undeserved reputation for extravagance and unreliability. I think much of this dates from the time he went down to Rio de Janeiro some thirty years ago to get some second-unit material for a projected picture, got caught up the drama and spectacle of the Mardi Gras and brought back a couple of hundred thousand feet or more that nobody knew what to do with. This single incident was absurdly over publicized. I have seen the way he works. He is a most economical filmmaker. Hollywood could well afford to imitate some of his methods.
Since Orson was absent at the time, I stood up and accepted an Academy Award for him not long ago (in 1970). It was for his contributions to films over the years. It struck me that although he was being paid this tribute, none of the studios was offering him a picture to direct. Perhaps it can just be put down to fear. People are afraid of Orson. People who haven't his stamina, his force or his talent. Standing close to him, their own inadequacies show up all too clearly. They're afraid of being overwhelmed by him.
Taken from John Huston's Autobiography, AN OPEN BOOK, 1980.
HUSTON: Orson, what page of the script are we on?
WELLES: What difference does it make, John?
HUSTON: I want to know how drunk I'm supposed to be.