I want to thank Roger for providing the link to "Five Minutes, Mr. Welles," which Mr. French and I had seen at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2005, and which I had on file but could not find when I first wanted to comment.
Nextren, I can understand your objection to Orson Welles portrayed as "a dolt" before giving his most renowned performance as an actor in someone else's picture, but I think you have to view it in context of what we know about the history of THE THIRD MAN. Welles was deep in the struggle to complete his OTHELLO, and he took the part of Harry Lime in a kind of desperation compounded from his need for money to complete his heartfelt project, his personal and professional friendship with Joseph Cotten, his business relationship with David Selznick and Alexander Korda, and his interest in being in a production with peers like Carol Reed and Graham Greene. By most accounts, Welles was an elusive, but eventually brilliant contributor and winner in all of these categories.
As a sometime amateur [stage] actor and director, I opt for Lance Morrison's assessment: Welles, at this point, was a genius in question, a man who had always kept the balls in the air as he juggled them. Now in his exact prime , he was losing a ball or two (as all men, far lesser than Orson Welles, begin to), and he was searching for a personal meaning in a part which as written, he found "unchallenging" and distracting from his obsession of the moment -- completing OTHELLO.
Terry: Being a lover of Welles' mystique, I can empathize with your anguish at Vincent D'Onofrio's interpretation of our hero's state of mind when he turned in his most memorable commercial performance. I would only beseech you to give the producer/writer/director/actor credit for showing Orson Welles' verve, brilliance, and believable human failings as the man creates an immortal character. That is no easy accomplishment. And the fact that a "Joseph Goebbels" or two agree with that assessment does not mean a whit, one way or another.
And finally, I would protest nextren's judgment of Welles' assistant, "Katherine," as a "prostitute" and "hooker." Welles from his earliest days as an impresario depended upon "girl fridays" and personal secretaries to keep his REALLY BIG genius balloon rising toward Mount Olympus. And there were dozens of them, some more talented and lasting than others, who as he acknowledged, provided links with people he considered tedious, fomidable or just plain difficult to approach. I think, nextren, you have to consider the status of women in the late 1940's, long before "the sexual revolution." In the arts no less than in business, a professional woman often felt the pride of "a chosen one" in making a talented man look good. She might take on idealistically, feel vicariously, certain of his accolades, in a much more innocent and admirable way than her efforts would be viewed -- "so what" -- today. Katharine has been given an immense task by the producers to insure Welles is ready for his crucial scene, but she also obviously has invested a lot of herself, her own determination, into that task. I find Janine Theriault's interpretation both tender and tough. Unlike the distorted depictions of CRADLE WILL ROCK or RKO 281, this five minutes may have been how it was. And D'Onofrio and Janine Teriault take us there.
Last edited by Glenn Anders
on Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.