Online course: American Cinema in the 70s: A New Look at New Hollywood

AMERICAN CINEMA IN THE 70s:
A NEW LOOK AT NEW HOLLYWOOD

A 12-WEEK ONLINE COURSE
(March-May, 2021)

PRESENTED BY MATTHEW ASPREY GEAR

The 1970s is one of the richest periods in American film history. In this original 12-week online course, to be delivered via the Google Meet platform, we’ll study 16 key films of the New Hollywood era from such essential directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Elaine May, Arthur Penn, Sam Peckinpah, Sidney Poitier, John Huston, Orson Welles, George Lucas and William Friedkin.

The lectures will explore these films through the stories of their production and in the wider context of American society, history, and politics. We’ll examine the transformation of traditional genres such as the western and the detective film, and the massive changes in the film industry before the rise of the blockbuster era. We’ll also examine the careers of the major directors and writers.

Classes are limited to a maximum of 12 students. Each week I’ll give an original fifty-minute multimedia lecture on a set film and theme and then lead an in-depth group discussion. All participants will have a chance to contribute. The only weekly homework will be to watch a film (or two) in preparation for the session. There will be no final exam or essay. This course is designed purely for enjoyment and discovery. All are welcome.

I will be running two identical sessions each week to accommodate different international time zones. Choose whichever you prefer:

American session: Sundays 12pm PT/3pm ET.
European session: Tuesdays 7:30pm GMT/8:30pm CET.

(NB. The lecture portion of the session will be recorded and available for download if you are unable to attend a live session and need to catch up.)

Price per student: US$120. Please email me at matthewaspreygear@gmail.com to book your place in the course.

LECTURE PLAN

March 7th (US)/9th (EU)
Lecture 1: The Dawn of New Hollywood
Movie: FIVE EASY PIECES (Bob Rafelson, 1970)

March 14th (US)/16th (EU)
Lecture 2: The Revisionist Western
Movie: BUCK AND THE PREACHER (Sidney Poitier, 1972) & ULZANA’S RAID (Robert Aldrich, 1972)

March 21st (US)/23rd (EU)
Lecture 3: Nixon at the Movies
Movie: THE CONVERSATION (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

March 28th (US)/30th (EU)
Lecture 3: The Nostalgia Industry
Movies: FAT CITY (John Huston, 1972) & AMERICAN GRAFFITI (George Lucas, 1973)

**ONE WEEK BREAK**

April 11th (US)/13th (EU)
Lecture 5: Men and Women on the Road
Movies: SCARECROW (Jerry Schatzberg, 1973) & ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (Martin Scorsese, 1974)

April 18th (US)/20th (EU)
Lecture 6: New Hollywood and its Discontents
Movie: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (Orson Welles, 1970-6/2018)
Special Guest: Josh Karp, author of Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of the Wind and co-producer of the Netflix documentary They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead.

April 25th (US)/27th (EU)
Lecture 7: Winning Streaks
Movie: CALIFORNIA SPLIT (Robert Altman, 1974) & MIKEY AND NICKY (Elaine May, 1976)

May 2nd (US)/4th (EU)
Lecture 8: Crimes on the Edge of America
Movie: NIGHT MOVES (Arthur Penn, 1975)

May 9th (US) /11th (EU)
Lecture 9: Transgressing the Border
Movie: BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (Sam Peckinpah, 1974)

May 16th (US)/18th (EU)
Lecture 10: The Wages of Fear
Movie: SORCERER (William Friedkin, 1977)

May 23rd (US)/25th (EU)
Lecture 11: Napalm in the Morning
Movie: HEARTS OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER’S APOCALYPSE (Fax Bahr/George Hickenlooper/Eleanor Coppola, 1991)

May 30th (US)/June 1st (EU)
Lecture 12: Permanent Vietnam
Movie: CUTTER’S WAY (Ivan Passer, 1981)

Online Orson Welles course: The Other Side of The Shadow

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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SHADOW:
A NEW LOOK AT ORSON WELLES

A 12-WEEK ONLINE COURSE
(March-May, 2021)

PRESENTED BY MATTHEW ASPREY GEAR

This original 12-week online course, delivered via the Google Meet platform, is designed for serious Orson Welles fans as well as newcomers. We’re going to have a lot of fun as we dive deeply into the work of one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers.

My lectures will cover the obvious Welles classics — Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil, and Chimes at Midnight — but will also explore some of the lesser-known films and TV programs, including many works that have appeared posthumously (and many unproduced screenplays that have never been published). I’m also eager to share the discoveries I’ve made in the Orson Welles archives in Turin, Munich, Michigan, and Indiana.

Each week I’ll give an original fifty-minute multimedia lecture on a set film and topic and then lead an in-depth group discussion. All students will have a chance to contribute. The only weekly homework will be to watch a film (or two) in preparation for the session. Many of the films are easily available on YouTube. There will be no final exam or essay. This course is designed purely for enjoyment and discovery. All are welcome.

I will be running two identical sessions each week to accommodate different international time zones. Choose whichever you prefer. Each group will be limited to a maximum of 12 students.

American session: Sundays 3pm PT/6pm ET
European session: Mondays 7:30pm GMT/8:30pm CET.

(NB. The lecture portion of the session will be recorded and available for download if you are unable to attend a live session and need to catch up.)

Price per student: US$120. Please email me at matthewaspreygear@gmail.com to book your place in the course.

LECTURE PLAN

INTRODUCTION

March 7 (US)/8 (EU)
Lecture 1: The Myths and the Man
Movie: MAGICIAN: THE ASTONISHING LIFE AND WORK OF ORSON WELLES (documentary, 2014)

A: WELLES’S STYLE AND METHODS

March 14 (US)/15 (EU)
Lecture 2: Orson and Film Noir
Movie: THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947)

March 21 (US)/22 (EU)
Lecture 3: Inventing Independent Film
Movies: FILMING OTHELLO (1978); ORSON WELLES: ONE-MAN BAND (documentary, 1995)]

March 28 (US)/29 (EU)
Lecture 4: The Essay Film
Movie: F FOR FAKE (1973); PORTRAIT OF GINA (TV special, 1958)

** ONE-WEEK BREAK **

April 11 (US)/12 (EU)
Lecture 5: Return to Hollywood
Movie: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND (1970-76/2018)

B: WELLES’S WORLD

April 18 (US)/19 (EU)
Lecture 6: Orson’s 19th Century: Dinesen, Conrad, and Melville
Movie: THE IMMORTAL STORY (1968); Screenplay reading: THE DREAMERS (c. 1979)

April 25 (US)/26 (EU)
Lecture 7: Orson Across Europe
Movie: MR. ARKADIN (1955)

May 2 (US)/3 (EU)
Lecture 8: Orson’s Spain
Movies: AROUND THE WORLD WITH ORSON WELLES: PAYS BASQUE I (TV episode, 1955); IN THE LAND OF DON QUIXOTE: TEMPO DI FLAMENCO (TV episode, 1964)

C: WELLES AND LITERATURE

May 9 (US)/10 (EU)
Lecture 9: Adaptation
Movie: THE TRIAL (1962)

May 16 (US)/17 (EU)
Lecture 10: Shakespeare
Movie: CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1965)

D: WELLES AND AMERICA

May 23 (US)/24 (EU)
Lecture 11: Power in the Streets
Movie: TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)

May 30 (US)/31 (EU)
Lecture 12: The Post-Lincoln Republic
Movie: THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942) and CITIZEN KANE (1941)

*

STUDENT COMMENTS
 
“The Orson Welles online course The Other Side of the Shadow by Matthew Asprey Gear offers an inspiring overview of the work, inspiration, and drives of a world-class filmmaker whose relevance is often reduced to a few early-career masterpieces. I can only recommend it!”
– Matthijs Wouter Knol, CEO and Director, European Film Academy
 
“Matthew is an excellent researcher and lecturer. He put Welles and his films into a fascinating historical context that has greatly enhanced my viewing experience.”
Charles
 
“The class was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the lesser known details of Welles’s career and to discourse over his films with like-minded enthusiasts!” 
Tyler, Chicago
 
“Matthew is very generous in sharing the fruits of the deep archival research he has done on Orson Welles. His expertise about his subject is plain to see and his thorough command of knowledge about Welles reaches well beyond the man’s work as a filmmaker to the many other media he worked in (theatre, television, radio, etc.). Matthew’s lectures are deeply informative and visually interesting. He is particularly good at drawing hidden thematic and historical connections between seemingly disparate projects in Welles’s work, helping to reveal the kernels of new ways to think about Welles as an artist. He is a great facilitator of the conversation portion of the class, helping to keep the conversation lively and guiding us toward stimulating subjects.”
Jesse
 
“Matthew Asprey Gear’s 12-week course was an opportunity to have an expert guide lead me through both familiar and obscure corners of Welles’s work. The format was an inviting way for both Welles neophytes and old Wellesians to join in a learning community and explore the unendingly fascinating films and life of a great artist.”
Josh, Texas
 
“It’s Terrific! Matthew Asprey Gear brings a wealth of Orson Welles research from firsthand sources and illuminates even the most ardent Welles fans. Come for the informative deep-dive lectures and stay for the lively discussions about Welles’ s many noses, wigs, cheap sets, and bad accents — and of course, the undeniable genius present in most of his films.”
Christian, Fort Lauderdale
 
“I highly recommend Matthew’s online Orson Welles course, for both beginners and seasoned Wellesians. The course brings new perspectives and insights to Welles’ extraordinary career.”
Ronan, Galway
 
“There was a sense of discovery even for someone who’s been interested in Orson Welles for more than a decade. A carefully planned structure made the course very intriguing.” 
Petri, Finland
 
“If you are an old Welles fan it is certainly a great opportunity to review and discuss his work and expand your knowledge on unrealized projects, screenplays, literary influences and the diverse facets of his life and work. If you are new to Orson Welles… lucky you! You will be in the right place to have a great overview of his extraordinary work that is certainly not limited to Citizen Kane. In both cases, fun and enjoyment are guaranteed!”

Elliot, Switzerland

“It was like knocking at the door where Orson is sleeping and wake him up with sweets and going down in the garden with the dog for a walk each Monday. Sometimes we talk sometimes we just walk, and it’s great the same.”
Emiliano, Rome
 
“Incomplete projects and hired-gun work in Welles’ filmography have usually worked against his reputation. But Welles scholars and aficionados, Matthew Asprey Gear among them, find in those inexhaustible plans, projects, and versions-of-projects, an artistic strength. If the truism is true that artworks are never completed, only abandoned, then Welles more than most artists gives us a rare chance to engage living projects as something more than a passive viewer. At least this is true of “The Magnificent Ambersons” or “Mr. Arkadin” or “Other Side of the Wind” – and of course Welles has just as many “traditionally completed” films as “Kane”, “Chimes at Midnight”, “The Trial”, etc. (Somewhere in between lay “F For Fake”, a finished film definitively about incompletion and fragmented points of view!) In any case, Matthew Asprey Gear’s class offers a robust survey of the completed and the uncompleted in Welles’ oeuvre, using the former to better understand the latter; and offering details from the archives at Michigan and Indiana and Munich one normally wouldn’t be able to come by (for instance, the weekly “unproduced screenplay of the week” feature). Highly recommended!”
Marc, San Francisco
 

Publication: Thunder of the Sun (a story)

A new story.

Morton Pike, worldwide bestselling author of historical sea novels, has lived a life of luxury and globe-trotting adventure. But now Pike is 83 and things have changed. His lifelong readers hate his new books, sales are falling, and his family life has become a tangle of bitter feuds and lawsuits.

Amid this turmoil, two ambitious juniors from Pike’s literary agency have a provocative idea. Can they persuade Pike to allow ghostwriters to write his novels? The deal could be worth a fortune, but will Pike be willing to abdicate his throne?

Set on Pike’s estate on the remote tropical coast of Queensland, ‘Thunder of the Sun’ tells the story behind the bestsellers.

Available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon

[NO LONGER AVAILABLE]

“A snobbish young man with more confidence than sense, a hard-working woman with a young son, a greedy old man grasping tightly to life… Matthew Asprey Gear lifts the lid on the seamy world of blockbuster fiction and finds that it stinks. Sharp-eyed, sardonic, and funny, this is a tale to gasp at and laugh over in equal measure.” – David Manderson, author of Lost Bodies (2011)

[Cover design by Anna Sark, based on a modified photograph by Vicuna R (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Review by the Times Literary Supplement

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Sarah Jilani’s review of At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City appeared in the March 10, 2017 issue of the Times Literary Supplement. She writes that the book “offers enjoyable revelations for anyone familiar with Welles’s work.”

Read more HERE

 

At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Review by Film International

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Tony William’s long review of At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City, appeared in Film International (vol. 14, no. 2).

He writes:

Amazingly, the author has not only brought a new positive slant to those frequent academic cityscape studies that now flood the critical landscape, but has also added some relevant aesthetic, cultural and political innovations to the field of Welles studies that distinguish this treatment in its own right as well as provoke insightful readings of neglected films, such as The Trial (1962)…. Far more modest in scope in comparison to recent mega-page studies of Welles, it nevertheless supplies some very important innovations to understanding the director’s work that will make it yet another additional ‘essential reading’ in the critical canon….the book provides both a wealth of new information and fascinating evaluations and
interpretations… a work that is both innovative and original.

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.]

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

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BUY: AMAZON.COMAMAZON.CO.UKBARNES & NOBLE

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E-BOOK: KINDLE (US)KINDLE (UK)

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