Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Other Side of the Wind

by Orson Welles, 1975

Welles's late, nearly completed and never fully released, masterpiece, the Other Side of the Wind, looks like it may soon get to be seen by a larger public.  I've seen about forty five minutes of it, between a few bits on television by way of the AFI Tribute to Welles, and various pieces that were surreptitiously uploaded to YouTube.   My friend, Jennifer Martinez, a film editor, was hired by Showtime a few years ago to evaluate the footage that was stored in LA, which she personally removed from refrigerated storage, slowly brought up to the proper temperature to be handled, and copied for further assemblage.  She did this with a lot of free help that she got from film students, whom she recruited with fliers that she put up on billboards at USC and UCLA.  Sasha Welles (the name he goes by) was also there, though it sounds like he mostly gossiped about his youth and kept an eye on things for his aunt, Oja Kodar.  Despite Jennifer's positive report to Showtime, it all came to naught, apparently because of interference from Beatrice Welles, Orson's daughter with Poala Mori, who, according to French Law, owns the negative, even though Orson left all materials relating to the Other Side of the Wind to Oja (the negative was stored in Paris.)  Recently another deal was reached, thanks in large part to Frank Marshall, a well known producer, who as a youth was employed on the Other Side of the Wind as a clapper operator (for which he is credited as Associate Producer on the film.)  Unfortunately, Showtime now wants to see edited sequences using newly struck footage from the original negative, for which the new producers of the film are requesting monetary contributions from film fans through one of those new "crowd sourcing" internet sites Indiegogo.  Here's hoping that they finally manage to get this work in theaters and on screens where it belongs.

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