This past week, the BERLIN AND BEYOND Festival welcomed Stefan Drossler, the director of the Munich Film Museum to San Francisco for the American premiere of the rare German silent film, NATHAN THE WISE (with Werner Krauss and Max Shreck).� And while Stefan was here, he was able to offer a screening of his work in progress on�JOURNEY INTO FEAR to a select group of Wellesnet's San Francisco members. Among�them was a young Persian Welles fan (and relative of Medhi Bouscheri), Medhi Dara Alavi. I felt this was most appropriate, in light of the cut dialogue in the new version that refers to the past glories of the Persian Empire in Iran and ties JOURNEY INTO FEAR into Welles last film, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND.
But the real eye opener for me was that much of the cut dialogue (mostly due to censorship concerns) refers to God, religion, socialism and sex. In fact, it is�quite�strange how overlooked this film has been in the Welles canon,�simply because the 69 minute version was so badly mutilated by RKO. Naturally, no one, including myself, really thought of it as a true Welles film, or that it was any great loss.� Possibly because it was clearly directed by Norman Foster for the most part. But this new version, along with the RKO-Welles memos, indicates to me that Welles really had his hands all over the project. One of the biggest changes confirms this. The�opening title now reads: Orson Welles' Mercury production of JOUNEY INTO FEAR.
With that title�restored,�so is Welles' ownership of the film. Obviously, the film was meant�to be a much more�commercial venture than KANE or AMBERSONS, but it also contains some incredibly interesting�comments about life, death, war and many other issues that seem to resonate in today's world.�But perhaps what struck me most was that this film might actually be the truest record on film we have of all the Mercury players that Welles had worked with in New York. Many of the�Mercury actors and assistants only had a film part in Welles�third and final film at�RKO,�including Eustace Wyatt, Frank Readick, Herbert Drake, Robert Meltzer, Shifra Haran and Jack Moss.