Orson Welles – Thoughts and Memories of a Giant

Orson Wells

Orson Wells
Orson Welles

ENTERTAINMENT – A fairly long and fine day. Began at dawn with songbirds and fresh sunshine. Coming to its fair closing with unique sights of bald eagles and gorgeous pileated woodpeckers banking off a light breeze across an ever so blue city skyline.

However this marks the birthday of one called Orson Welles. Born May 6, 1915 in the U.S.A. In Wisconsin a little south of Milwaukee. Though Orson spent a fair bit of time in Chicago. His mother played piano at The Art Institute of Chicago to accompany guest lecturing.

And, in time, Orson is pictured in black and white photos doing card tricks for the poet Carl Sandburgh. Both admirers of one another’s stylistic writing.

Welles wrote much. Apparently 300 pages of outline notes for one of Orson’s most famous works. His film to be made entitled Citizen Kane.

Orson, in his own manner, through his adaptability while performing in live theatre and his lifelong virtuosity within the Art of producing memorable films guided me in putting aside a little research time in various centres and libraries. Collecting creative writing ideas Welles left in his journey through life (1915-1985). Often with a subtle, or, snappy twist.

One can almost hear Welles speaking the quotes to come in that inimitable baritone voice. “Often sounding like Orson was an American whose thunderous accents in speech might easily be followed by rain from the sky,” as an Irish professor once told me in Dublin.

Welles did much travelling. Not only Continental countries in Europe. He also appeared in W. Somerset Maugham’s play The Circle, in 1932, at Dublin’s famous Abbey Theatre.

After a few days of glancing at Welles’ career and impact on creative film, I wrote these in a notebook.

The notion of directing a film also produces the invention of critics.

A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.

Ask not what you can do for your country? Ask, rather, what's for lunch?
My kind of director is an actor-director who writes not only well... but extremely well.

Sometimes it seems I started at top and worked my way down.

What I wish to accomplish in my work and film is to give the audience a hint in a scene.
No more than that. 
Give them too much and they won't contribute anything themselves.
But give them just a suggestion and you'll have them working with you.
That's what gives the Theatre meaning: when it becomes a social art.

And how often when we work on a subject like this somehow some component of the one you study arrives, rather vicariously, almost mystically within the immediate path of a particular day. Inherently, just before you do call it a day.

So, as that day’s sunlight was fading on a Chicago side street the aroma of cigar smoke was like an imaginary calling inside an introduction to darkness.

It seemed like, if one could really understand the word seemed, suspended above all the traffic of cars. It was really lingering. As if in a kind of transparent corkscrew wafting in the fug of its fragrance where one begin to anticipate the smoker walking our way. Perhaps close enough to make out the apparition, at least, to see his stature. His framework. His countenance in focus if only for a-touch- of-flash-time.

For the sound of his shoes indicated a sturdy breadth of a man was the author of what, who, was coming. Perhaps to be in focus at the next intersection?
But it happened too quickly. Those footprints of the cigar reveller, initially sounding in the souls of his oxfords, we’re not sounding anymore. And my fanciful fabricated notion of meeting a modern Welles in the anonymity of where we were would too soon be history.

Henhad stopped at the side entrance to his lodging. I could see in the mistiness, of that murky atmosphere, a very wide breadth of a man. In a lengthy black trench coat. Wearing a fairly new fedora. For the newness of the ribbon encircling the hat was intermittently caught by the headlights of cars streaming by.

And, at last, when our own intersection lights finally turned green allowing us a crossing to his side of the street. He had gone. Vanished into his exterior red brick apartment.

Yet like words written by Orson Welles this adventure will live on beyond the parameters of Orson’s birthday. Will linger in re-framing a walk-a-bout in Chicago being transformed while relishing Orson’s line, “That’s what gives live theatre meaning. When it becomes a social act.”

Ronn Hartviksen

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