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 (November 23, 2020-February 22, 2021)

PRESENTED BY MATTHEW ASPREY GEAR

This original 12-week online course, to be 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 I’m also excited about the prospect of exploring some of the lesser-known films, TV programs, and unproduced scripts, including many works that have appeared posthumously (and some that have yet to be 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 stimulation.

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 PST/6pm EST; 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 twelvemilereef@yahoo.com to book your place in the course.

Details of the lecture plan are available at Wellesnet: Film author to lead online course on Orson Welles

Publication: Thunder of the Sun (a story)

A new short 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

“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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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

Orson Welles and the Death of Sirhan Sirhan, Part II: The Safe House

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Orson Welles and the Death of Sirhan Sirhan

Part II: The Safehouse

Part I of this article at Bright Lights Film Journal told the story of how Orson Welles, while directing his legendary and never-finished Other Side of the Wind, took time out in early 1975 to accept a leading role in an independent conspiracy thriller called Sirhan Sirhan or RFK Must Die. The film, scripted by Donald Freed and to be produced by Ananke Productions, was intended to exonerate the Palestinian refugee Sirhan Sirhan as the lone assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. In fact, it dramatized Sirhan’s duping by a network of intelligence “programmers.” Welles was asked to play the chief conspirator, Dr. William A. Must Jr.

Welles’ co-stars would have been Sal Mineo (as Sirhan) and football legend Jim Brown. The project should have been an easy $125,000 paycheck for Welles, but it didn’t turn out that way. He quickly became the project’s central creative figure. He demanded contractually assured approval of director, script, and cast, completely rewrote the screenplay, and installed his Yugoslavian lover and collaborator Oja Kodar in a starring role.

Part II continues the story in early July 1975. Welles’s reluctance to sign his contract has put the project in doubt. Welles leaves Hollywood for Europe.