When he died in 1985 at age 70 — more than four decades after Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons — Orson Welles as a director/screenwriter had a number of movie projects in the hopper in various states of preparation.
Almost finished was what turned out to be his last movie, The Other Side of the Wind, which languishes to this day distinctly uncompleted. We had thought there was some good news to be had regarding all this for Welles fans.
We recall that a front page of The New York Times in the fall of 2014 included a lengthy story headlined ‘Hollywood Ending Near for Welles’s Last Film,’ reporting that The Other Side of the Wind might finally see the light of a theatrical release.
After decades of legal wrangling among rights holders — including Welles’ daughter and sole heir, Beatrice, who lives in Sedona, Az. and manages the Welles estate — some 1,000 reels of negatives stored in warehouse outside Paris were finally to be freed to be edited in Hollywood into a complete release print.
The deal making this possible was complicated: it involved a Los Angeles production company Royal Road Ent.; Welles daughter; his lover-collaborator Oja Kodar, who has a role in the film; and an Iranian-French production company which, in familiar Welles fashion, had clashed with him about spending and other matters, and took control of the negatives in France.
The general goal was to have a finished print of The Other Side of the Wind ready for a May 6, 2015 screening marking the 100 anniversary of Welles’ birth. Yes, you read that correctly: the screening was supposedly planned for May of 2015.
Well, outside of the publication of author Josh Karp’s Orson Welles’s Last Movie in May of 2014, we have heard very little — and we mean LITTLE — about the progress (or lack thereof) of The Other Side of the Wind, which Welles spent the last 15 years of his life attempting to put together and finish.
The movie is described as “a movie within a movie about the comeback attempt of an aging, maverick director played by John Huston.” An eclectic cast includes Susan Strasberg, Paul Stewart, Cameron Mitchell, Edmund O’Brien, Mercedes McCambridge and Peter Bogdanovich.
Bogdanovich is joining Hollywood producer Frank Marshall in assembling the final version of The Other Side of the Wind. According to subsequent reporting by The New York Times, the effort has been bogged down by a familiar handicap — inadequate funding.
The producers behind the completion project launched last year an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which raised only about $400,000 of the $2 million sought to underwrite the effort. The plan more recently is to come up with an unnamed private investor for the cash.
That’s it. No further details regarding if The Other Side of the Wind would be finally completed. And, if so, when. The suspense continues. We are left waiting for Welles in the form his last film.
That, of course, is Welles in the photo above along with Charlie Chaplin who always had firm control of his movies. Below is Welles in Mr. Arkadin, which we wrote about earlier this week — another derelect Welles film that exists today in multiple versions.