Welles told Bazin in 1958 his "Lollabrigida" was "not at all a documentary but an essay, a personal essay...this has no pretense to be factual: it just does not lie." And interestingly he used almost exactly the same words to describe "F For Fake" to Leslie Magahey in 1982: "['F For Fake'] is a form, in other words, the essay, the personal essay, as opposed to a documentary, quite different." However, 'Fountain of Youth' is clearly not an essay, though it is "Fountain" which is more innovative in the 'Fake' spirit than is 'Lollabrigida', which seems bizarre but quaint; it is 'Fountain' which is the aesthetic parent of 'Fake'.
Here's an interesting review of 'Fountain' from 2000 I posted a while ago: see if you agree with the writer's take on 'Fountain':
"March 26, 2000
TELEVISION/RADIO; Welles's Chance To Make Television Do His Bidding
By CARYN JAMES
WITH his insatiable need for the spotlight, not to mention money, Orson Welles turned television into his deadliest collaborator. Late in his life, television helped transform his image from genius to Falstaffian buffoon, that mountainous figure in a flowing black shirt trotted out to amuse Merv Griffin's audiences and shill for Paul Masson wine. But there had been a moment when Welles's connection to television might have taken a happier turn.
''Do you think television has lived up to its potential?'' Edward R. Murrow asked in a ''Person to Person'' interview in 1955, looking at Welles on a giant screen.
''I don't, Ed, no,'' Welles answered, in an early version of the fake chumminess so common now in chats with Matt and Katie and others. ''There are new forms that haven't even been attempted in TV, and it's solidifying and crystallizing too quickly.''
The next year, he attempted something adventurous on television, and basically blew his opportunity. Welles wrote and directed ''The Fountain of Youth,'' the pilot for an anthology series, and also hogged the camera as onscreen narrator. Rarely seen, it will be presented at the Museum of Television and Radio along with the Murrow interview and a very funny 1956 ''I Love Lucy'' episode with Welles as guest star. (The program begins on Friday and runs through May 7 at the museum in New York and through May 31 in Los Angeles.)
The ''Lucy'' appearance led to a deal to make the pilot for Desilu (the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz production company), with the idea that Welles would be creatively involved, somehow, in each minidrama. But the series was never sold, and ''The Fountain of Youth'' was shown two years later on NBC's ''Colgate Theater,'' a summer grab bag of rejected pilots. It is a mere curiosity in Welles's career, but the museum's package reveals a great deal about how television shaped his image and how the medium really was ''crystallizing too quickly,'' as Welles knew but did little to change.
Despite some visual daring and an odd foreshadowing of ''The Twilight Zone,'' ''The Fountain of Youth'' is a weird blend of radio and theater, a strangely wrongheaded approach to television. As narrator, Welles is the egomaniacal center. ''Orson Welles speaking,'' he begins, then appears on screen in a suit and bow tie to tell the story, set in the 1920's, of what he calls a ''wacky litle romance'' about a middle-aged scientist named Humphrey Baxter who falls for a blonde showgirl, Caroline Coates. When Caroline dumps Humphrey for a dashing tennis pro who is her equal in narcissism, the scientist offers the new couple the only existing vial of a youth serum. The romance may not be as wacky as Welles hoped (he based it on a short story by John Collier), but it is playful, going for wry psychological wit rather than spookiness.
Welles is no Rod Serling, popping up at the start and finish of the tale. He moves on and off screen throughout the half hour, telling the story (including characters' dialogue), as if he were reading it, as if this were radio.
Visual and dramatic flourishes were second nature to Welles by then, and the pilot has many. Sometimes he wanders in front of still photographs of the characters. At other times his narration gives way to the drama, as if we were peeking in on a play. To change one scene, Humphrey is cast into dark shadows and takes off his coat; when the lights come up, we are in a nightclub instead of on a dock.
But the visual jazziness creates a jarring feel, as if Welles were reading from a storybook in which the photographs occasionally come to life. This is far from the fluid, pure cinema of ''Citizen Kane'' (then 15 years in the past) and of the film Welles would begin the next year, ''Touch of Evil.'' Here, falling back on his radio days, he failed to grapple with what television was about. Iconoclastic though it is, ''The Fountain of Youth'' has the aura of a crumb that a genius tosses at the masses; that never works.
The tragedy of Welles's career, of course, was that he was always straddling the commercial and artistic worlds, and, after his first great success, rarely conquering either. At the time of the ''Lucy'' show, he had been performing in Las Vegas, doing an act that combined magic tricks with Shakespearean recitations. That was the image he projected on the show: playing himself, he agrees to appear at Ricky's club and wants Lucy to assist in his magic act; she thinks he wants her to do Shakespeare, playing Juliet to his Romeo.
Welles promotes and puts a spin on the image: he signs copies of his new Shakespeare recording at Macy's; he soaks up Lucy's praise and asks for more. Still, he is the straight man who lets her get the laughs. She spots him in Macy's, where she happens to be trying on scuba gear that makes her look as if rubber antennae are sticking out of her head. ''My man-from-Mars broadcast was 18 years ago, what kept you?'' he says, slyly referring to his triumphant radio stunt, ''War of the Worlds.'' That persona echoes in Welles's later television appearances: looking back at a triumph while doing nightclub tricks (or their equivalent, ''Merv Griffin'').
Many warring facets of Welles's career are on display in this shrewd little museum program: he is the interview subject who talks big about television, and the creator of a casually misbegotten pilot; most emphatically, he is the Orson Welles who played himself on television, arriving with his bag of tricks.