My Lunches with Orson Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-06-24
  • Publisher: Picador
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There have long been rumors of a lost cache of tapes containing private conversations between Orson Welles and his friend the director Henry Jaglom, recorded over regular lunches in the years before Welles died. The tapes, gathering dust in a garage, did indeed exist, and this book reveals for the first time what they contain.

Here is Welles as he has never been seen before: talking intimately, disclosing personal secrets, reflecting on the highs and lows of his astonishing career, the people he knew—FDR, Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Laurence Olivier, David Selznick, Rita Hayworth, and more—and the many disappointments of his last years. This is the great director unplugged, free to be irreverent and worse—sexist, homophobic, racist, or none of the above— because he was nothing if not a fabulator and provocateur. Ranging from politics to literature to the shortcomings of his friends and the many films he was still eager to launch, Welles is at once cynical and romantic, sentimental and raunchy, but never boring and always wickedly funny.

Edited by Peter Biskind, America's foremost film historian, My Lunches with Orson reveals one of the giants of the twentieth century, a man struggling with reversals, bitter and angry, desperate for one last triumph, but crackling with wit and a restless intelligence. This is as close as we will get to the real Welles—if such a creature ever existed.

Author Biography

Peter Biskind is the acclaimed author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Down and Dirty Pictures, and Star, among other books. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, and Rolling Stone. He is the former executive editor of Premiere and the former editor in chief of American Film, and is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. He lives in upstate New York.

Table of Contents

Introduction: How Henry Met Orson by Peter Biskind     1

Part One 1983
 1.“Everybody should be bigoted.”     31
 2.“Thalberg was Satan!”     46
 3.“FDR used to say, ‘You and I are the two best actors in America.’ ”     58
 4.“I fucked around on everyone.”     67
 5.“Such a good Catholic that I wanted to kick her.”     75
 6.“Nobody even glanced at Marilyn.”     81
 7.“The Blue Angel is a big piece of shlock.”     87
 8.“Kane is a comedy.”     96
 9.“There’s no such thing as a friendly biographer.”     101
 10.“The Cannes people are my slaves.”     116
 11.“De Mille invented the fascist salute.”     124
 12.“Comics are frightening people.”     130
 13.“Avez-vous scurf?”     140
 14.“Art Buchwald drove it up Ronnie’s ass and broke it off.”     150

Part Two 1984–1985
 15.“It was my one moment of being a traffic-stopping superstar.”     159
 16.“God save me from my friends.”     168
 17.“I can make a case for all the points of view.”     175
 18.Charles “Laughton couldn’t bear the fact he was a homosexual.”     189
 19.“Gary Cooper turns me right into a girl!”     200
 20.“Jack, it’s Orson fucking Welles.”     208
 21.“Once in our lives, we had a national theater.”     220
 22.“I smell director.”     230
 23.“I’ve felt that cold deathly wind from the tomb.”     238
 24.“Jo Cotten kicked Hedda Hopper in the ass.”     252
 25.“You either admire my work or not.”     259
 26.“I’m in terrible financial trouble.”     264
 27.“Fool the old fellow with the scythe.”     281

Epilogue: Orson’s Last Laugh by Henry Jaglom     287
Appendix     291
New or Unfinished Projects     291
Partial Cast of Characters     293
Acknowledgments     301
Notes     303

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