Stunning Improvised footage from Orson Welles’ THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND!
Thanks and many kudos to Lamont Cranston (The Shadow Knows) for posting the links to these two fantastic scenes of Paul Mazursky and Henry Jaglom from The Other Side of the Wind, on the Wellesnet message board.
They are now available for viewing on YouTube. Also a special thanks to Shoudriot for posting these videos on YouTube in the first place!
Henry Jaglom and Paul Mazursky – Length: 5:35
Henry Jaglom and Paul Mazursky (alternate takes with an additional scene of Dennis Hopper as another young director from the Easy Rider era of Hollywood) – Length: 6:29
A few years ago, Paul Mazursky told me about these scenes in some detail. He recalled them as a drunken night spent with Orson Welles at his house in Hollywood, but of course at the time, I hadn't actually seen the scenes. Now, after looking at them, and seeing what Mazursky said about the scenes, his comments have proven to be extremely accurate! According to Mr. Mazursky, he and Henry Jaglom spent over four hours at Welles house in 1971 improvising these scenes. After watching the scenes and reading Mazursky's comments, you will see that over 30 years later, Mazursky remembered his night of work with Welles extremely well, considering the amount of brandy he consumed... you will even see him lift up a brandy glass (very briefly) at the end of the second scene!
Now, for someone who doesn't know the context of these two scenes, they probably will prove to be less than satisfying viewing. But when you realize that Jaglom and Mazursky are talking about the great Hollywood director Jake Hannaford, the major character in Orson Welles The Other Side of the Wind, they make much more sense.
What is also interesting to note, is that Welles apparently told Jaglom much more background about the story of Jake Hannaford (or else Jaglom had already read the script), than what Welles told to Mazursky (who says he did not read the script). But in these two scenes, Jaglom seems to know much more about Jake's fascist-like tendencies, and speaks with more insight about Jake's background, while Mazursky (who seems to be out talked by Jaglom), may simply not have been given enough information about Jake to ad-lib his replies. However, Mazursky does cite a key plot point when he says, "are you saying (Hannaford) is homosexual?
In the script, it is brought out that Jake Hannaford can only make male stars, because he always seems to find some young and attractive leading man to star in his movies who he eventually falls secretly in love with. So actually, maybe that would be a good angle to get the film finally released. Orson Welles makes a gay movie, long before Brokeback Mountain!
Welles also told Mazursky and Jaglom that since John Huston wasn't available the night they were shooting their scenes, that he would be the one who would feed them their off screen lines. Welles assumed the role of Jake Hannaford (who is supposed to be in the scene with them), so it is indeed Welles voice you hear in all the off-camera dialogue.
Another notable aspect of these scenes, is the beautiful way they were lit and shot (in black and white) by Gary Graver in 1971. Seeing the scenes for the first time, I was struck by how much they anticipated the style of Robert Mapplethorpe's still portraits, as both Jaglom and Mazursky's faces stand out against a pure black background. Of course, that makes perfect sense, since in the context of the movie, all the lights have supposedly gone out at Jake's ranch house, so naturally, they would only be lit by candlelight or lanterns.
After seeing these two brilliantly improvised scenes, directed by Welles, along with all the other footage I've seen, I find it absolutely criminal that this great piece of cinematic art still remains unseen. For me, Welles screenplay for The Other Side of the Wind is a masterpiece of screenwriting acumen. It seems only logical that the script, as filmed by Orson Welles would also have to considered as Welles' final masterpiece.
Below are Paul Mazursky's comments about his single night of work on The Other Side of the Wind in 1971, which will certainly place the YouTube scenes in better context for anyone who has not read the script. And apparently, Paul Mazursky himself has never even seen this footage, so hopefully he will now get the opportunity to do so. So speaking on behalf of Mr. Mazursky, many thanks to Sboudriot!
LAWRENCE FRENCH: I imagine the older you get, the harder it is getting Hollywood to finance the movies you want to make.
PAUL MAZURSKY: Yes, they did it to Billy Wilder, they did it to Fellini, who was a very good friend of mine and he had a very hard time at the end getting money, and they did it to Orson Welles, who I acted for in a movie called The Other Side of The Wind, which I’ve finally seen some of the footage for, but it will never come out.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Why do you say that? I read the script that was published in France and think it’s a brilliant piece of work.
PAUL MAZURSKY: It may be, but I never read the script. I was only in a party scene for one night, with Henry Jaglom. Gary Graver, the cameraman recently showed me some of the dailies and scenes from the picture, and there’s always been talk that the movie will be coming out, but Orson has been long gone, and it’s being edited by other people. But from what I saw of it, some of it was interesting and some of it was, well... I don't know if it will work. But I spent one long night with Orson and had a great evening with him. I only spent the one night with him, and of course, I didn’t even get paid. But the next day he called me at MGM and said; “Now I know I’ve got a movie! Brilliant improvisation Paul, you where with us for only four hours, and now I know I’ve got a movie! Absolutely brilliant work, I cannot thank you enough.” I said, “Mr. Welles, I’d love to see you sometime, maybe have lunch with you,” and he said, “I’ll call you soon.” Well, after that, I never heard from him again!
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Where did you shoot your scenes with Henry Jaglom?
PAUL MAZURSKY: At Orson’s house in Benedict Canyon. His wife was there helping, a very beautiful lady... but maybe she wasn’t his wife.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Was it Oja Kodar?
PAUL MAZURSKY: Yes, that right, it was Oja Kodar and I think he had two 16mm cameras there, and Oja was carrying around a lamp that was the connection between all the scenes Welles was shooting for this party.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: That makes sense, because in the script the lights go out during the party, so they have to have lanterns brought in during the final stages of Jake's birthday party.
PAUL MAZURSKY: Yes, and we were supposed to be shooting our scenes during the party and everyone in Hollywood was there. Orson would shoot the scenes at different times, with different actors when they were available, and most of his movies ended up being made over a period of years. He’d act in other movies to raise the money to finish his own movie, and it was the same way on this one, except he never finished this picture! The movie was about a director named Jake Hannaford, played by John Huston, and Orson would say, “it’s not me, so never talk about him as being Orson Welles, but just refer to him as Jake,” and then he’d laugh, “Ha, ha, ha." So Orson said to Henry Jaglom and me, “Now Mazursky, I want you to be for Jake Hannaford, and Jaglom, I want you to be against him. John Huston is going to play Jake, but since we don’t have him with us tonight, I’ll be off camera and feed you all of Jake’s lines.” So I was supposed to think that Jake was this great director, like Orson Welles, and Jaglom was taking the line that he was a big phony. Then Orson explained to us the context of the dialogue that Jaglom and I would be improvising: “Jake has been living in Europe for some time, and he’s a filmmaker who has been blacklisted by Hollywood. Now, he’s come back to Hollywood to make a new movie, and you are two young filmmakers talking about him during his 70th birthday party." So then, after every ten minutes – they were all ten minute single takes – Welles would say, “Cut, and don’t say a word, it’s a masterpiece!” Then he’d laugh, “Ha, ha, ha.” So throughout the night he kept giving me more and more brandy and I got so drunk, by the end of the night I didn’t know where I was! I would say, “Jake’s the greatest director Hollywood has ever seen, and make up titles like Depth of Focus, because I couldn’t say Citizen Kane! And then Jaglom and I would curse at each other and argue about Jake and his movies. This was back in 1971, so we both had long hair down to our shoulders.
LAWRENCE FRENCH: Did Welles ask you to be in the movie?
PAUL MAZURSKY: No. It was in 1971 and I had already made Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, and had just finished Alex in Wonderland, but it hadn’t come out yet. I got a call from the producer, Bert Schneider (who made Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show) and he said to me, “Orson Welles wants you to be in his new movie.” I said, “come on, Bert, don’t put me on. Where does Orson Welles know me from?” Bert said, “No, he really wants you, I don’t know why, but he does. I said, “When are you shooting? “Tonight.” I said, “If this is a put-on Bert, I promise you, I’ll come and get you! So Bert gave me the address and I went to Orson’s house in Benedict Canyon at 8:00 pm and knocked on the door, figuring it was going to be a put-on of some kind. Well, the door opens and there is the biggest guy I’ve ever seen standing there in a black smock, and he says, “Paul, I loved Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice. It was so brilliant, thank you so much.” So I go in and we started shooting, and as we shot, Orson kept feeding me brandy after brandy, all night long, so I had a really great time. Finally, after we had shot for about four hours, sometime after midnight, Orson said, “It’s a wrap for tonight, thank you Paul, thank you Henry. You can go home now.”