orson welles meets h.g. wells: jolly good new noises

The above is a short audio clip of Orson Welles speaking with H.G. Wells in 1940. They met for the first time a day beforehand in San Antonio, Texas. I like how HG sneaks in a plug for Citizen Kane early on. HG says that he hopes Kane will bring about “jolly good new noises.”

libraries: rockin’ it old school

Bust of Orson Welles

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes old school is the better way. Sure I love the Internet and how quickly I can find something, like who played Mr. Whipple in those Charmin commercials. But it’s not like wandering around a library coming across something happenstance.

I passed by a shelf in the reference section with Current Biography 1941 published by The H.W. Wilson Company. Since that was the year Citizen Kane premiered, I looked up Orson Welles and found yet another gem from his childhood:

“Young Welles had no education except this informal kind when he was finally sent to school at age 10. He had read all of Shakespeare, was proficient in belles lettres, amused himself by a critical analysis of Thus Spake Zarathustra; but he didn’t know how to add or subtract. When this lack was pointed out to him, ‘there will always be’ he said, ‘people around to add and subtract for me.'”

Hopefully my daughter, who is age 10, won’t read this entry. After all, I still need someone to add and subtract for me sometimes.

that stupid birthday cake

Part of this year's twenty. Geez, I'm getting old.

Image via Wikipedia

” ‘That stupid birthday cake,’ she said, ‘is just another cake; and you’ll have all the cakes you want. But the candles are a fairy ring. And you will never again in your whole life have just that number to blow out.’ ” ~Beatrice Welles, on her deathbed, to her son Orson on his ninth birthday.

The book Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu, Volume 1 (by Simon Callow) is like a treasure box. Each time I open it, I find another gem of a glimpse into Welles’ childhood. Welles states that the greatest mistake he made was that night. He forgot to make a wish before he blew his candles out. 4 days later Beatrice died at Chicago Memorial Hospital in 1924.

If a feature film is ever made of his life, it would be a crime to omit his mother’s influence. She wanted someone¬†with whom to discuss fine art. He thought he disappointed her according to Callow’s book. I hope not. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, it’s hard to swallow that the young prodigy ever disappointed woman who shaped him.

Callow writes:

“It is not an exaggeration to say that from her position deep inside him, she dictated his actions and influenced the course of his life up to his own death, more than sixty years later.”

As all our mothers do.

happy birthday mr. welles

Les Quatre Cents Coups

Image by Paul Lowry via Flickr


I called in to The Dennis Miller Show to draw attention to Orson Welles’ 95th birthday on Thursday May 6. He was born in a humble two-story home on the shores of Lake Michigan in quaint midwestern Kenosha, Wisconsin. The town was too small to hold the boy genius. After age 4 he bid adieu for the biggest small town, Chicago.


Miller said on the way to Vegas there’s a town called Victorville (which I’m familiar with because my dad hauled cars as a truck driver there). The story goes that Welles and Herman Mankiewicz penned Citizen Kane in the desert town of Victorville though Mankiewicz swore he was the sole author of the screenplay. This reminds me of a scene in Family Guy where Matt Damon finishes writing Good Will Hunting. Ben Affleck asks Damon to add his name to it.

Damon says, “But you didn’t contribute!”

“You want me to contribute? Here!” Then Affleck passes gas.

Regardless of who actually wrote Citizen Kane, my new favorite channel TCM showcase Welles’ films Thursday. Here is the schedule for East Coast:

11:30 am: Journey Into Fear (1942)

12:45 pm: The Tartars (1961)

2:15 pm: The Stranger (1946)

4:00 pm: The Third Man (1949)

5:45pm: Citizen Kane (1941)

That means us west-coasters need to arise early to watch the marathon. Or clear up space on our TiVos. I guess I can scratch Dancing With The Stars, how about you?