The 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary film-maker Orson Welles was half a year ago (May 6th to be exact), but here in N.C. it’s better late than never to celebrate as special showings of some of the man’s best work are hitting local screens this month.
Earlier this month The Cary Theater in downtown Cary hosted a Cinema Studies Screening of Orson Welles’ 1957 thriller TOUCH OF EVIL, presented by the Modern School of Film, and kicked off a Sunday afternoon series of November Welles screenings with the director’s 1942 adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s 1918 novel THE MAGNIFICIENT AMBERSONS.
The Sunday series continues at The Cary with Welles’ most acclaimed film, 1941’s CITIZEN KANE on the 15th at 2 pm. I previously wrote about seeing KANE at the theater last year (my first visit to the newly refurbished venue).
I have to work this Sunday so I’ll be missing The Cary’s screening of CITIZEN KANE, but I will be attending The North Carolina Museum of Art’s showing of the film on Friday, November 20th. It’ll be my first visit to the redesigned SECU Auditorium, and I’m taking my 17-year old nephew Linus, who’s never seen it or much in black and white for that matter.
Last summer, I was talking to Linus about the Netflix superhero series Daredevil and how good Vincent D’Onofrio is as the villain Wilson Fisk, and I mentioned that D’Onofrio had played Orson Welles more than once (in Tim Burton’s ED WOOD, and in his own short film FIVE MINUTES, MR. WELLES, which you can watch here).
“Who’s Orson Welles?” Linus asked, and, well, I was a bit taken back. Still, as this happens a lot when I babbling about some old thing to kids who are completely disconnected to it, I dropped the subject.
More recently, Linus told me that he may want to study film in college – he’s not sure where he’ll go to college, mind you – and I said that he really ought to see CITIZEN KANE – it’s Film 101.
My first experience with Welles was seeing THE MUPPET MOVIE with my grandmother when I was 9, something I’ve written about before. Welles had a cameo in the film as the powerful head of a movie studio who signs up Kermit and gang to be stars (“prepare the standard ‘Rich and Famous’ contract for Kermit the Frog and Company”).
My grandmother, who is still alive, told me who Welles was – KANE, the “War of the Worlds” radio show, etc. – and the seed was planted, but it was years before I actually watched any of his work.
So now I’m attempting to pass on my Orson obsession, or, better yet, the movie-loving gene to my nephew – we’ll see how that goes.
Of course, it’s the words from Welles himself that are the most notable. Some choice quotes: “I’m ashamed of Rosebud, it’s a rather tawdry device – it doesn’t stand up very well, ” “You know, I always liked Hollywood very much – it just wasn’t reciprocated,” and “I would’ve sold my soul to play THE GODFATHER, but I never get those parts offered to me.”
Well, that’s enough Welles for now. Hope to see a lot of folks coming out to see these classics on the big screen in Cary and Raleigh. And, by the way, this post is part of my new “Drag a kid to KANE” initiative. Yeah, that’s right – I’m really trying to start that as “a thing.”
* I posted about actors who’ve played Welles back in 2008 as well: A Birthday Tribute To Orson Welles With 10 Welles Wannabes (5/5/08)