HomeFeatured ArticlesHis Lunches with Orson – Henry Jaglom Remembers Orson Welles

His Lunches with Orson – Henry Jaglom Remembers Orson Welles

“My Lunches with Orson” is an essential book edited by Peter Biskind, featuring transcribed tape-recorded discussions between the renowned director Orson Welles and his close associate Henry Jaglom. The conversations are a compelling mix of sadness, humor, audacity, and insight, offering valuable insights into Welles’ final years.

In the late 1970s to mid-1980s, Orson Welles’ earlier success from the 1930s and early 1940s had become a distant recollection.

His final finished film, “F for Fake” (1974), struggled to find an audience and faced predominantly negative reviews at the time, despite being now acknowledged as a bold and inventive piece of work.

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His Lunches with Orson: Orson Welles Ordeal and Unwavering Friendship

Pauline Kael’s contentious essay, “Raising Kane,” attempted to discredit Orson Welles’ unassailable masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941), while Charles Higham further tarnished Welles’ reputation with disparaging books.

Despite being a peerless cinema artist responsible for numerous masterpieces, Welles faced a lack of support from the Hollywood community when he needed it most.

Only Henry Jaglom, a friend and collaborator, tirelessly sought assistance for Welles’ projects, including securing financing from his contacts in the film industry.

Despite the heartbreaking unraveling of Welles’ projects, detailed in My Lunches with Orson, the book also captures Welles’ engaging storytelling and humorous candor during his private conversations with Jaglom.

The discussions shed light on Welles’ reluctance to accept certain offers, showcasing his wit and resilience amidst his challenging circumstances.

Welles candidly expresses his disdain for specific actors and films, deliberately provoking Jaglom with outrageous comments.

He critiques actors’ accents and physical attributes, makes disparaging remarks about various individuals, and shares his opinions on specific movies.

Additionally, the book delves into Welles’ keen insights into 20th-century history and art and his astute observations about Hollywood and the industry that ultimately rejected him.

Moreover, it highlights his obstacles in getting his projects off the ground and identifies those who disappoint him.

While it may have been perceived that Orson Welles and Henry Jaglom struggled to sell their projects, the reality was more intricate.

They were navigating through various complex proposals, some of which were uncertain at their end rather than theirs.

Welles was understandably cautious, insisting on signed contracts guaranteeing him final creative control, detailing specific production conditions, and safeguarding his interests.

Despite this, the fundamental issue was the lack of genuine offers for their projects, with only one potential deal materializing briefly with Arnon Milchan, which ultimately fell through due to the actors’ refusals.

If the deal had not fallen apart, it is uncertain whether Welles would have compromised his position on certain aspects to make it happen or if he would have declined the offer if it conflicted with his artistic vision, such as the potential casting of actors he deemed too “ethnic” for a particular role.

Long after reading My Lunches with Orson some questions remained, and Henry Jaglom generously took time out from the busy postproduction of his latest film, Ovation (2015).
Long after reading My Lunches with Orson, some questions remained, and Henry Jaglom generously took time out from the busy postproduction of his latest film, Ovation (2015).

The book “My Lunches With Orson” vividly portrays Orson Welles, capturing his essence and subtleties through recorded conversations with Henry Jaglom.

The discussions reveal Welles’s unfiltered personality, which differed from his public persona, and bring back memories of him as Jaglom had known him nearly three decades earlier.

The book sheds light on Welles’ struggles to secure funding for his film projects, reflecting the challenges many professional artists face to earn a living while pursuing their creative endeavors.

This situation, remarkably similar to the plight of struggling writers, underscores the tragic circumstances that hindered Welles’ ability to continue making films.

Regarding the potential solutions to support artists like Welles, Jaglom expressed that a national government initiative could have made a difference.

He noted that while technological advancements, such as HD video, have made filmmaking less expensive, the theatrical distribution landscape has become more challenging.

However, the rise of quality long-form TV combined with simplified technologies might have allowed Welles to thrive, especially with his reluctance to create smaller, limited-audience films.

Additionally, Jaglom clarified that Welles’ outspoken opinions about actors, directors, and movies, including his controversial remarks about Powell & Pressburger, reflected his genuine views rather than being influenced by professional disappointments or employed for effect.

While some comments might have been made to provoke a reaction, they were broadly consistent with his true sentiments.

Unveiling Orson Welles: Candid Conversations and Enduring Impact

The book “My Lunches with Orson” has garnered high praise for its engaging portrayal of Orson Welles. It offers a fascinating glimpse into his intimate conversations and candid reflections on his life and career.

The recordings capture Welles as a consummate raconteur, sharing personal anecdotes, scathing critiques of fellow actors and directors, and poignant musings about his struggles and triumphs in the film industry.

Henry Jaglom, the director and close friend of Welles, highlights that the book accurately reflects only a fraction of their profound relationship and conversations.

He emphasizes that Welles’ outspokenness and sharp judgments, though often humorous, were genuine and reflected his unfiltered opinions.

The book also sheds light on the challenges Welles faced in his later years, including the lack of support from friends and colleagues in securing funding for his film projects.

Jaglom’s candid responses offer insight into the complexities of Welles’ final years and the impact of his legacy on contemporary filmmakers.

Furthermore, the discussions touch on personal aspects of Welles’ life, including his health and weight, which were subjects rarely broached during their conversations.

The Dreamers, based on two stories by Isak Dinesen that was to have starred Welles’s partner, Oja Kodar.
Based on two stories by Isak Dinesen, The Dreamers was to have starred Welles’s partner, Oja Kodar.

Jaglom also shares his experiences working on projects with Welles and the enduring influence of Welles’ wisdom and insights on his creative process.

The conversations reveal Welles’ enduring impact on cinema and the profound influence he continues to exert on filmmakers and film enthusiasts.

The book serves as a poignant and illuminating tribute to one of the greatest cinematic storytellers of the twentieth century, offering a rare glimpse into the private world of a legendary figure.

In summary, “My Lunches with Orson” provides a compelling and multifaceted portrait of Orson Welles, showcasing his wit, intellect, and unyielding passion for storytelling while delving into the challenges he faced and his enduring legacy in cinema.

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Ashish Dahal
Ashish Dahal
Ashish is a prolific content writer, blends with the creativity with precision in his writing. His work, characterized by clarity and engaging storytelling has gathered a loyal readership. His passion for words fuels his constant pursuit of excellence.

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    Ashish Dahal has combined his interests and content writing. Through his work, he showcases enthusiasm and ability to deliver captivating content consistently. Ashish's writing demonstrates his passion for storytelling and content creation.



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