Anyone wondering why The Young Turks (Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas, et al) refused to get behind Welles financially should read Bloom's Anxiety of Influence (Wiki link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_anxiety_of_influence
). Sure, they acknowledged his greatness, but they were the hot shots now, on the cutting edge, surpassing the master. But I suspect there was always a nagging doubt that the dissolute old vagabond could shamble back into the ring and knock them all out with one punch. Hollywood is a small town, and it is inconceivable to me that the people who mattered there did not know what Welles was up to with TOSOTW. Perhaps there was a secret sigh of relief when it didn't get finished. I mean, these "great filmmakers" were still scared of TOSOTW years later, when they saw the incomplete footage. How easy it is to join in the "Poor Welles" chorus while you are stealing from a genius and getting aclaim for it!
Sorry Tony, but in this case your argument doesn't cut it. Welles' (false) reputation for financial profligacy might have scared off the suits (certainly a lie, if believed by enough people, can have as much effect as the truth), but it hardly can have mattered to a guy like the notoriously chaotic and manic-depressive Coppola, who pissed away more cash on the title sequence for One From the Heart (which I actually paid money to see) than Welles would need for a picture. As for Welles' health, that only became an issue in the early eighties. That gives us, from the completion of Chimes, 10-14 years where Welles' legendary stamina was at full throttle. The health issue was just another excuse not to deal with him, in a long litany of excuses.
I think it is fairly well documented that around the time Welles settled into his relationship with Oja, for better or for worse, he decided he would direct no picture that he had not initiated. He would be an author only, not a gun for hire. I have read several articles about Welles' later years that claim he was offered directing jobs all the time AND HE TURNED THEM DOWN. Look at Popeye. A huge multimillion dollar production that Dino De Laurentiis was willing to entrust to this supposed maniac. Why? Because Dino, a fellow maniac and maverick and monumental ego, probably felt he could keep Welles under control. We keep talking about money, folks, when we talk about Welles, but it's a smoke screen. Hollywood, which has elevated preening wastefulness into an art form, doesn't care about money, really, at least any more. It's about ego and control, period. And I think Welles was tired of playing that game.
Anyone on this board an Ayn Rand fan? Remember The Fountainhead, where Howard Roark, when he can't build 'em his way, takes a job in a quarry? Or Atlas Shrugged, where Rand's heroic creators go on strike, rather than spend one more second compromising with second-raters?
Perhaps we should stop bemoaning the wreckage of Welles' later career, and start celebrating it. It's heroic wreckage...