At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Review by Afterimage

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Matthew Moore’s review of At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City appeared in the latest issue of the US journal Afterimage (issue 44.3, 2016). Moore writes:

“If one beholds Welles’s oeuvre as one of the most multifaceted sets of modern artistic expressions, then surely one will find this newest book an enjoyable and stimulating read….  A generous number of stills, some diagrams, and a short dialogue excerpt enhance the study, fleshing out the idea that Welles’s modern cinematic vision was urban and cosmopolitan par excellence.”

For more, see HERE.

Publication: Lewis L’Amour

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The new novella.

Ebook now available at Smashwords in multiple formats.

Synopsis:

Last seen in 2013’s Lewis and Loeb, Arthur James Lewis returns for another comic misadventure!

In the winter of 2014, Lewis yearns for nothing more than Cicero’s ideal—a garden and a library. Desperate for a peaceful place to complete Carthage: The Sound of Distant Drums, the latest (and longest) of his “magisterial novels of the ancient world”, he finds himself instead harassed and disrespected.

Where to begin? His wife refuses to type up his manuscript. His live-in niece has installed a noisy satellite television to addle the brain of her toddler. The gas company has switched off the heat in an act of shameless revenge. And at a ghastly pop culture convention in blizzard-battered Ohio, Lewis is collectively mistaken for a hack writer of Westerns.

An unexpected windfall of cash allows Lewis to escape to Mendoza, Argentina, where he hopes for a fruitful discussion with the beautiful Camila Weitensteiner, eminent scholar of Ancient Rome, who also happens to manage a small family winery with a guest cottage overlooking the vineyard. For a moment the garden and library seem within reach, but Lewis has arrived during a standoff between the Weitensteiners and the corrupt and monopolistic Quesada family that threatens to become all-out war. Yet again he will learn that a writer’s peace is elusive.

[Cover image by Simone Artibani @Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Licence.]

At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Review by Mediapolis

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Amy Corbin’s review of At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City appeared in the fourth issue of Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture.

Corbin calls the book “an impressive work of archival research and film analysis, documenting the director’s use of locations in both his finished work and a vast array of unfinished projects, from scripts to unedited footage.”

Read the entire review HERE.

 

Now available: At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City

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The films of Orson Welles inhabit the spaces of cities – from America’s industrializing midland to its noirish borderlands, from Europe’s medieval fortresses to its Kafkaesque labyrinths and postwar rubblescapes. His movies take us through dark streets to confront nightmarish struggles for power, the carnivalesque and bizarre, and the shadows and light of human character.

This ambitious new study explores Welles’s vision of cities by following recurring themes across his work including urban transformation, race relations and fascism, the utopian promise of cosmopolitanism, and romantic nostalgia for archaic forms of urban culture. It focuses on the personal and political foundation of Welles’s cinematic cities – the way he invented urban spaces on film to serve his dramatic, thematic, and ideological purposes.

The critical scope goes beyond Welles’ thirteen commercially-released feature films by drawing on extensive research in international archives and building on the work of previous scholars. Viewing Welles as a radical filmmaker whose innovative methods were only occasionally compatible with the commercial film industry, this volume examines Welles’s original visions for butchered films such as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and Mr. Arkadin (1955), and also considers many projects the filmmaker never completed – an immense ‘shadow oeuvre’ ranging from unfinished and unreleased films to unrealized treatments and screenplays.

Touch of Evil (1958) Directed by Orson Welles Shown: Orson Welles

“A timely book that pushes past many debates dotting the beaten path of Welles criticism to consider the representation of the city, both as a physical location and an imaginary social space, in his film oeuvre. It considers incomplete and overlooked as well as unproduced works that have survived in script form; the result is a historically grounded, globally conscious study that urges us to consider the importance of the built environment in Welles’s mises-en-scène, as well as his abiding concern with the politics of modernization.”– Catherine L. Benamou, University of California-Irvine, author of It’s All True: Orson Welles’s Pan-American Odyssey

“A valuable contribution to Welles studies – well researched, highly readable, and full of fresh insights.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader film critic, author of Discovering Orson Welles

“Well researched, informative, and enjoyable to read – an original, thoughtful commentary on Welles and modernity.” – James Naremore, Indiana University, author of The Magic World of Orson Welles

From Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press.

PRESS:

Five Questions for Matthew Asprey Gear at Wellesnet

‘Lost Script Reveals What Orson Welles Really Thought About Ernest Hemingway’ at The Observer (UK)

‘Welles contra la España de Hemingway’ at Clarín (Argentina)

Orson Welles round-up on 100th Birthday

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On the 100th anniversary of the birth of Orson Welles, here is a round-up of my pieces about the filmmaker.

Orson Welles and the Death of Sirhan Sirhan (Bright Lights Film Journal, 2015). Part I: The Conspirators (February 20). Part II: The Safe House (February 26)

Orson’s Charmed Circle of Fragments: A conversation with Josh Karp on his new book Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind (Bright Lights Film Journal, April 30, 2015).

Too Much Johnson: Interview with Scott Simmon at Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource (January 26, 2015)

Mr. Arkadin: A look at the film locations at Wellesnet: The Orson Welles Web Resource (October 11, 2013)

T For True: review-essay on three Orson Welles books (Senses of Cinema, issue 68, September 2013)

Orson’s Charmed Circle of Fragments

Other-Side-WindJosh Karp’s new book Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind has just been published by St. Martin’s Press. It is the first detailed account of the production of this most unorthodox of film projects. Based on interviews with surviving participants and in-depth research of primary documents, Karp tells an often amusing tale of 1970s Hollywood. It’s a story of creative genius, irresistible chicanery, devastating betrayal, and wild times with some of the era’s most interesting personalities.

I first met Karp in Chicago during the winter of early 2014. To coincide with the publication of his new book, we continued our conversation on Welles by long distance email for a new piece at Bright Lights Film Journal called Orson’s Charmed Circle of Fragments

Introduction to Contrappasso: Writers at the Movies

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Writers at the Movies, the new special issue of Contrappasso Magazine I edited with Noel King, contains essays by Luc Sante, Sarah Berry, Richard Lowenstein, Richard Hugo, Clive Sinclair, Michael Eaton, Jon Lewis, and Anthony May; fiction by Barry Gifford; poetry by Michael Atkinson, R. Zamora Linmark, and James Franco; and my interviews with Jonathan Rosenbaum, Emmanuel Mouret, Scott Simmon, and Richard Misek. Some pieces are republished, some appear for the first time. In this instance, the common theme is ‘literary cinéphilia.’

Some of the pieces focus on a single film: Alfred Hitchcock’s Murder! (1930), Orson Welles’s rediscovered Too Much Johnson (1938), Elia Kazan’s Man On A Tight Rope (1952), Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind (1955), and Robert Siodmak’s Custer of the West (1968). The approaches vary. Other pieces zoom in on an individual: Eric Rohmer, Jean Negulesco, Claire Danes, the Black Dahlia, Sal Mineo, Montgomery Clift, Elmore Leonard, and Emmanuel Mouret. We also explore the kind of cinéphilia that escapes the page and becomes filmmaking itself.

The issue is for sale at Amazon.com. The long introduction, which I co-wrote with Noel King, is now online at the Contrappasso website.

Duke Ellington: Stockpile P.S. (Posthumously Recorded Works)

This is a 2015 postscript to my 2012 three-part listener’s guide to the Duke Ellington Stockpile: his posthumously released studio sessions. See Parts 123.

Aside from his mammoth tape archive, Ellington left additional works unreleased, unrecorded, or unfinished at his death in 1974. Here is a brief list of the various attempts by others to complete/reconstruct those works for record. It’s not complete.

THREE BLACK KINGS and THE RIVER

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Mercer Ellington completed his father’s final symphonic work Three Black Kings (Balthazar, Solomon, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). It was orchestrated by Luther Henderson. In 1980 Mercer led the Duke Ellington Orchestra (still going strong) in a live recording with the Warsaw Philharmonic. Unfortunately the LP has never been reissued on CD and is rare.

The album also marked the first appearance on record of Ellington’s 1970 ballet The River, orchestrated by Ron Collier. Stanley Sloane writes, “If you wanted to have an idea of what the ballet might have sounded like if Ellington’s men had joined forces with a small symphony orchestra in the pit… this is the recording to have.”

Ellington’s 43-minute demo recording of the ballet with his band (recorded 1970) appeared years later on the Private Collection Volume 5 (see here). Stanley Dance described that recording as “the blueprints on which [Ron Collier’s] orchestrations for the ballet company’s own orchestra would ultimately be built.”

There are several later recordings of these Ellington symphonic works, sometimes paired with orchestral versions of works originally written by Ellington for the big band: Maurice Peress conducting the American Composers Orchestra, Akira Endo conducting the Louisville Orchestra, Lowell L. Graham conducting the United States Air Force Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Neeme Jarvi conducting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

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TIMON OF ATHENS

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Duke wrote incidental music for a 1963 Stratford Festival of Canada production of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. The play was directed by Michael Langham. Ellington originally utilized six musicians. When the production moved to England’s Chichester Festival in 1964, the instrumentation was enlarged.

The score was revived in 1991 for a new theatrical production by Langham at the 1991 Stratford Festival. Stanley Silverman adapted Ellington’s “sketches and partial score” and added some vintage well-known Ellington pieces that fitted into the play’s interwar European setting. This recording is from that production.

The liner notes are here.

POUSSE-CAFÉ

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Music from another failed Ellington Broadway musical. This one, a New Orleans version of The Blue Angel, closed after three performances in 1966. On this 1990s revival for CD, a small band led by Ellis Larkins is fronted by vocalists Marshall Barer (also the original lyricist) and Barbara Lea. I like the title song.

SATURDAY LAUGHTER

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Saturday Laughter was an unproduced 1958 musical based on Peter Abraham’s anti-apartheid novel Mine Boy. Ellington and Strayhorn wrote twenty-two songs with lyricist Herb Martin. The project was partially revived in the form of a 2002 CD called Secret Ellington: twelve of the songs performed by various artists.

BEGGAR’S HOLIDAY

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David Serero’s is the only professional recording of this 1946 Ellington musical (with lyrics by John LaTouche). It was based on the The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay, the same source material as Brecht & Weill’s Threepenny Opera. Serero’s is a recording of a 2004 reworking by Dale Wasserman. The vocalists here seem totally unsuited to the material.

QUEENIE PIE

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An unfinished and long-gestating Ellington jazz opera. I don’t want to get into the convoluted posthumous history of this one. There have been various stagings over the years. This is a solid recording from a 2009 production starring Carmen Bradford with the Butler Opera Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

ELLINGTON: FRENCH TOUCH

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A labour of love from the world’s finest Duke Ellington repertory orchestra, led by Laurent Mignard. This 2012 release contains a number of pieces otherwise unavailable: Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s complete incidental music for a 1960 production of Alain-René Lesage’s Turcaret, transcribed by Mignard from a lo-fi collector’s tape; a cue from Paris Blues that didn’t make the original soundtrack LP (plus extended versions of others); and three outcast movements from Duke’s Goutelas Suite (two of these reconstructed from Ellington’s sketches).

Here is my 2012 review of this CD at PopMatters.com. And in 2011 I published a two-part feature at the same site on Duke Ellington in Paris. Part 1: Busy Winters and Part 2: Interview with Laurent Mignard.