Ray: I've been gathering material for a little comparative review of these latest books by McBride and Callow. Nothing may come of that project, given my circumstances, but I can tell you how balanced I found the assessments from both these authors, one formerly very much a critic, the other a fairly longtime colleague. Both matched Welles' personal flaws against Studio fears or jealousies, and then, with national politics, in explaining the destruction of his Hollywood career.
I think your review is fair and thoughtful.
Tony: We are agreed that Welles was a difficult man, but I can also guarantee that if you and I had been given the incredible build-up Welles had, if we had abetted the build-up, and things had gone wrong for us, later in life, there would be dozens and dozens of acquaintances and co-workers, when interviewed, who could come forward with "funny" or angry stories about how we had either freaked them out or been cruelly indifferent to them. Neither of us was Orson Welles, and so neither Time Magazine, Acess Hollywood, nor "E" will be seeking those people out for interviews, articles and books.
If we had such a career, it might have gone like this:
INTERVIEWER: And so Glenn, about Tony, who is in the news again,
attacking Orson Welles: What can you tell us?
GLENN ANDERS: Well, Mr. King, I don't really know Tony, but he is
a strange kind of guy.
INTERVIEWER: How so, Glenn?
GLENN ANDERS: Tony has an obsession about me and my twin
brother, who went by the pseudonym of "Thomson
Anders" on the Internet. You remember him as the
guy who wrote some stuff on Orson Welles. Tony is
convinced Thomson and I believed that Welles was
"Charles Foster Kane," that he was "Franz Kindler,"
in THE STRANGER, that kind of thing.
GLENN ANDERS: I wouldn't say that, Larry, but he wouldn't admit to
the possibility that Orson Welles, more than most
artists, used autobiographical references in his
creations. It really disturbed my poor brother.
INTERVIEWER: Whatever happened to old "Thomson Anders"? I
had him on the program a couple of times. He
used to be as famous as you or Tony. Some said
he was better known in Frisco than Todd Baesen.
GLENN ANDERS: It's very sad, Larry. There were rumors that Tony
was writing a peer-reviewed study, "The Symptoms
and Psychopathology of Autobiographicalism."
Thomson fell under a delusion that he was the
INTERVIEWER: [leaning forward] Would you say that Autobiogra --
I can't pronounce it. [chuckles] The condition
GLENN ANDERS: Tony couldn't have known. What did he care? He's
an Anti-Autobiographicalist . . . [wipes tears from
his eyes] But when Thomson saw CITIZEN KANE at
the Tooting Bec Classic one rainy Sunday in 1955,
he suffered a "loss of connectedness fugue," which
conflated with Labour Socialist Politics to haunt
him the rest of his life.
GLENN ANDERS: [beginning to weep] He began to get into violent
confrontations with cab drivers, especially female
cab drivers. He thought that they were cheating on
him, taking him "around the block." He would
shout, "Left -- no, Right, I said Right! RIGHT!"
Then, he would begin to curse.
INTERVIEWER: [chuckles sympathetically] I don't get it.
GLENN ANDERS: It was the "political thing," you see? Thomson
never recovered from the end of the Cold War!
INTERVIEWER: And where is Thomson now, Glenn?
GLENN ANDERS: [weeping uncontrollably] After the book on Nicole
Kidman, we had to commit him. Thomson Anders is
in the sub-cellar of the Lima State Hospital for the
Criminally insane in Ohio. With treatment, he now
is able to shout, "Right, Right!" consistently, but he
can never be allowed in the general population
INTERVIEWER: That's the story of Thomson Anders, folks, a poor
devil who fell prey to "Autobiographicalism." We'll
be back in our closing moments with his brother,
Glenn Anders. Don't go away!
Seriously, Tony: Orson Welles' Art was not very pure, as you claim. It was drawn from the Literature, History and the Nations of the World, in a time when only a few American Artists might say that. But it was also very much wrenched from within himself. He did not follow your dictum of "Art for Art's sake," though he was very much an Artist.
Anyone who wishes to be an artist, a dramatic artist, at least, had better be prepared to understand in his or her own life the nature of conflict, and what the World calls Sin. Otherwise, he is relegating himself to dramas on "The Lives of the Saints" -- and there will be some surprises there, too.
Welles, after all, in his young manhood, was very close to Thornton Wilder.
We should do well to agree with the wisdom of Christopher and tonyw.
[Sorry, it has taken me a long time to finish anything this week. I see you agree with me, Tony. GOOD!]
Christopher: What a beautiful summing up of Orson Welles as a man and as an artist! It strikes me that a number of his later completed works follow, or move toward, the same theme as his magnificent soliloquy before Chartres -- in CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, for instance, and in a strangely different way, in TOUCH OF EVIL.
BTW, I have not forgotten my promise to you. I just have a lot on my plate, in recent weeks.