You can read an interview with David Thomson by John Carvill Here. It' s an interesting but at the same time quite an idiotic interview. Why? Not because of the questions asked, which is usually the case, but because of the answers given, by Mr. Thomson.
I think the interview makes a very nice piece to discredit David Thomson as any kind of authority on Orson Welles, or for any one else in the cinema, for that matter.
Mr. Thomson’s answers to Mr. Carvill's questions on Orson Welles, which come at the very end of the long interview, seem to me to be very condescending. That Mr. Thomson prefers the 93-minute original cut of TOUCH OF EVIL, which Welles himself detested, is obviously very revealing. It shows us where to place Mr. Thomson on the level of Orson Welles scholars. Namely, way below Pauline Kael. Obviously anyone who loves Welles work and the cinema would wish these people had never existed!
As Webmaster of Wellesnet, I don’t know anyone who would give David Thomson’s book ROSEBUD, anything less than an “F” except my good friend, "Glenn Anders." I'm sure Glenn and I will be talking about our differences when next we meet, and obviously if Mr. Thomson views Wellesnet, he is invited to reply, but as far as I know, he is the only writer associated with Orson Welles and his work who does not visit this site. Unlike most other Welles scholars and friends, such as Joe McBride, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Simon Callow, Christopher Welles Feder and Beatrice Welles, to name only a few. But of course, Mr. Thomson feels he knows more about Welles than all of these people, as a reading of his discredited book, ROSEBUD will show.
Actually, I find it ironic that Mr. Thomson could bring Welles two daughters, who agree about little else, together in agreeing that Thomson's ROSEBUD is a complete abortion. But beyond the fax pas Mr. Thomson committed with ROSEBUD, I must also note the superior, John Simon-like attitude Mr. Thomson projects throughout his interview with John Carvill. The tone is that Mr. Thomson is right, and everybody else is wrong. For example, Mr. Thomson’s view of Martin Scorcese and Leonard Di Caprio’s work. Obviously, it’s fine to say their films are bad, or you don’t like them, but to suggest they have both not been recognized widely elsewhere, because you don't like them, is simply idiotic in the extreme.
I don't know how old John Carvill is, but when I first met Mr. Thomson in San Francisco, in 1981, shortly after seeing THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS for the first time, I would have told Thomson to (excuse my French) go fuck himself if he had said what he did to Mr. Carvill. So would two directors who were friends of mine, that Thomson professes to admire, Nicholas Ray and George Cukor.
Mr. Thomson's suggestion that Mr. Carvill is too young to "appreciate "THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS is, in my humble opinion, simply beyond the pale. Orson Welles is obviously a far greater artist than Mr. Thomson, which I assume even Mr. Thomson would agree with (well, maybe not). And how old was Orson Welles when he made THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS? 26... So how does Mr. Thomson explain that? "You are too young, Mr. Carvill." My God, that has got to be the stupidest answer I have ever heard! How old were Picasso and Van Gogh when they painted their earliest masterpieces on canvas?
Just imagine if in 1937, GUERNICA had been "re-touched" by another artist who felt it needed a bit of color to dramatize the black and white and "CinemaScope" canvas Picasso had painted. Picasso, as a true artist would have burned the painting rather than seen it displayed in any version other than what he had intended.
Welles, as a film artist, was in the same position five years later, except in 1942, he couldn't burn the negative of his original film. It took the idiots at RKO to do that for him. Ironically, they wanted to burn the negative of CITIZEN KANE, but to destroy the artistry of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, they dumped it into the Pacific Ocean.
The bottom line is this: David Thomson is no fan of Orson Welles or his legacy.
To anyone interested in Orson Welles or his works, please avoid Mr. Thomson and his trashy books like the PLAGUE!
Here is what Jonathan Rosenbaum had to say about Mr. Thomson's book A Biographical Dictionary of Film:
"Rather than focus on its omissions and denials, which I've already done elsewhere, I'd like to raise my eyebrows at the notion that the book, whatever its merits as criticism, is any kind of reference book at all. Apart from skeletal and often incomplete filmographies, its facts are few and far between."
Read more by Jonathan Rosenbaum on David Thomson HERE.