Musings on Orson Welles’s ‘The Other Side of the Wind’
By LAWRENCE FRENCH
Having seen a nearly complete rough cut of The Other Side of the Wind, I can easily see why it has baffled so many people. But having studied the script in some depth, and having seen many of the clips in isolation many times, (including the material recently posted by Henry Jaglom on YouTube), I find the film becomes more exciting and fascinating every time I view footage from it. I was especially taken with John Huston's performance in the Jaglom clips, and this footage clearly shows him to his best advantage, since it features him more prominently than any of the other scenes that have been shown publicly (and after all JAKE is the main character in the movie).
I think part of the problem for a great many people is that the material is in a very "rough cut" state, with wildly varying picture and sound quality. This, of course can be easily corrected, if access to the original negative is ever granted. The other problem is Welles' own very fragmented cutting style, where single lines are often played out over multiple very quick cuts, making it sometimes difficult to know who is speaking, or indeed what is even happening, as many scenes are played in semi-darkness after the lights have failed. This makes more than one viewing of the film or of the available excerpts rather important. So, to help people who saw the Jaglom footage before it was removed, I am posting the script pages below which encompass those scenes. As can be seen, Welles followed his script rather closely, with most of the changes being made not to the dialogue, but to which of the characters say it. For example, when the characters of Matt (Paul Stewart) and Maggie (Mercedes McCambridge) where not available while Welles was shooting, he simply re-assigned their lines to the actors he had with him.
Another problem that could be addressed, is one that Scott Baldwin recent noted on the Wellesnet Facebook page: The idea of the "Re-mix culture" taking the raw footage, and finessing it with today's computer editing tools. The Jaglom footage is a perfect case for doing this, since as it was presented many scenes were simply strung together in a random order. For instance, the long argument scenes between Jaglom and Paul Mazursky, great as they are, are simply misplaced, right in-between the scenes centering on JAKE HANNAFORD. The same applies to the scene with Dennis Hopper, as well as the beginning of the scene where PAT (Edmond O'Brien) announces that the lights have failed. These are simple changes which could easily be made, and possibly some of the pauses between some scenes could also be tightened up, such as when JAKE castigates BILLY for lousing up "putting the touch" on BROOKS OTTERLAKE, followed by MR. PISTER entering the scene, after he has heard JAKE tell BILLY "That could have been the general idea."
When the scene with JAKE and DR. BURROUGHS was shown at a New York University conference on Welles, Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote about it in Sight and Sound as follows:
"The scene charts an unsettling series of exchanges between Jake Hannaford, surrounded by members of his entourage at his birthday party, and a prissy schoolteacher (Dan Tobin), clearly out of his depth, whose former student (John Dale) is the lead actor in Hannaford's film in progress. Hannaford's banter is basically macho gay-baiting, and the musically timed reverse-angles which alternate between his gibes and the teacher's embarrassed rejoinders or giggles finally give way to simple exchanges of looks. Relentlessly prolonging and exacerbating the queasy tension, this sequence is the most aggressive employment that I know of champ contrechamp."
In the script excerpts that follow, you can easily see how the scenes should have been placed. There are also a few short scenes featuring ZARAH VALESKA (Lilli Palmer),which were not present in the Jaglom footage.
After the power failure, PAT grabs a director’s megaphone to inform the startled guests of the situation.
Alright now, let me have your attention.
We have a power failure on our hands.
The ranch’s generator’s have broken down.
But we hope the situation will be
temporary. Meanwhile we’ll be getting
lamps for you from out in the stables and
lighting up candles, so you can all find
your way to the booze and the eats. The
projection of Mr. Hannaford’s motion
picture, "The Other Side Of The Wind"
will naturally be suspended until the
juice comes on. In the meantime, we trust
you good folks will find your own ways to
CALB (the ranch handy man) having confessed his inability to deal with the breakdown of the generator quickly organizes a whole bunch of lamps and lanterns from the stables. Thus, we have been watching (in a SERIES OF DIFFERENT ANGLES) the gradual re-illumination of the party...
The YouTube footage posted by Henry Jaglom covers nearly 20 pages in the script, from page 97 to page 114:
JAKE moves to OTTERLAKE, taking the drink out of his hand...
(after a beat)
Who told you I was broke?
Well... Billy said you've lost the boat -–
For a moment there's a baleful look in JAKE'S eye as he looks up from his drink.
He did, did he?... How about the roof
over my head, Brooksie, how does that
The ranch -?
Out in the snow, kid - over the hill...
and down the Dale - But let's not
ever speak of Master John Dale,
shall we? Ever.
(covering his extreme discomfort
with a flare of temper)
Dale! That's what really bugs you, isn't
it? With all your troubles - Jesus, what's
one lousy leading man?
Less than the dust, kid, from my chariot
I'll drink to THAT –
(staring into his glass)
You'll never catch up with me.
That's what I'm told...
JAKE raises his eyes to him... OTTERLAKE may have expected some slight acknowledgment of this delicate compliment, but JAKE'S look is curiously withdrawn, and almost sly.
Cute... very cute.
MUSIC... Again (alternately, Flamenco and New Orleans jazz) it continues throughout the following:
THE SLATE BOY
He leaps nimbly out of scene...MISS VALESKA'S candles still glow enchantingly between the flowers... but no MISS VALESKA!
Well... maybe she'll be back.
I wouldn't use a light like that
on Miss VALESKA...
(under her breath)
What could a LIGHT do to her? - She's
had so many face lifts, she's ready
ZARAH in the doorway.
(off screen, appealing
to her crew)
All I did was MENTION the word “sex”...
There wasn't any.
I'm sorry, I...
You meant with Mr. Hannaford, I suppose.
(making a simple statement) There wasn't
ever... No sex at all.
Silence... All the fight is knocked out of FIONA.
OUTSIDE OF THE STORY BOARD ROOM
BILLY is guiding DR. BURROUGHS though a darkened series of rooms to a meeting with JAKE. BILLY is holding up a lantern, and they are followed by a group of cameramen with sun guns.
This way Mr. Burroughs.
(correcting him) Dr. Burroughs...
The lights seem to be...
Yes, we have our own generators, and this sometime happens.
These are our storyboards.
Oh, how nice...
BILLY hands DR. BURROUGHS a lantern.
BILLY leaves DR. BURROUGHS in the storyboard room, going off to tell JAKE that he has arrived with JOHN DALE'S teacher. Meanwhile one of the many cameraman at the party begins filming DR. BURROUGHS as he moves his lantern around in the dark room.
OUTSIDE THE LIBRARY
A group of Hannaford's stooges is gathering, and one of them, AL sees BILLY smoking out on the Terrace.
(to Pat) Five will get you ten he's back on the scotch. (Seeing BILLY) Hey! What are you doing Billy... smoking?
What does it look like?
The way things are going tonight it could be a reefer.
Nowadays we call it a joint.
What do you need tea for, you've got gumdrops.
We all know why. It's to keep you off the juice.
(pause) He wants to see you.
Yeah, well I want to see him!
I've got that teacher waiting.
Get on out there!
Frankl's here - he just got in from
from another direction)
I brought that teacher, Jake; I got
JAKE stops in front of HYMIE FRANKL (a long-time, part-time, member of the organization).
Lousy, awful trip...
(turning on BILLY)
Jake! I just TOLD you...
That's kept you busy - just collecting
BILLY hopes his rueful grin will signal a reminder to JAKE that he's also been occupied with JACK SIMON... But there's no indication that this registers.
Hey, can I please get myself something
Didn't they feed you, Joey?
All they do on airplanes is feed you.
You threw up? Give him some candy,
I didn't "collect" the teacher, Jake,
he met me at the screening –
Keep your voices down. These freaks got
the whole place wired for sound.
I caught one of 'em bugging a cactus.
Look, Jake, those oil guys, they
want no part of us.
(after a short silence,
Neither does Max - Right, Billy?
(joining the group)
He stops. He knows the answer... PAT is behind him.
That dirty crook - who needs him?
Max? - he's so crooked he's got
rubber pockets so he can steal soup.
He looks around - not really hoping for a laugh and certainly not getting it...
Our best chance was that oil money...
And Otterlake - what about HIM?
Yes, what ABOUT me?
They turn to find OTTERLAKE standing nearby...
(a lightening quick cover-up)
Brooksie! - we just wondered if you
knew about the drive-in?
Yes, we're screening the rest of the —
(cutting them off)
He's seen the movie –
(with his nervous little laugh)
Well, we don't HAVE everything.
Leave it to Jake. Pretty soon you'll
have too much.
You bet! We've had our troubles before...
(arranging an exit)
Want your little friend to get you
a drink, skipper?
(acknowledging the tact)
(when Otterlake has left,
lowering her voice)
At Max's studio he's the golden-haired
boy, isn't he –
He's got his own company...
Tied in with Max –
That's what I mean. Billy —
(looking at Billy)
He blew it... Must be all
that candy he eats.
You were the one with Max - where IS he?
Not here, that’s where he is!
(getting a bit querulous)
And what the hell's the CANDY got
to with it?
JAKE lifting another long drink looks at BILLY with his most sweetly patient, sacerdotal smile
Could be it's softening your brain, Uncle.
It's for the sugar... Since I got
off THAT stuff...
His eye is on JAKE'S drink... his anger makes it possible to screw up his courage and mention a very delicate matter:
And speaking of which...
JAKE (who knows BILLY is about to be censorious about the liquor) cuts in swiftly, knocking him off balance:
Speaking of which, here is little
Mavis, who will bring a little fresh
encouragement, won't you sweetie.
Shouldn't I go home and pack.
I mean if we are going to Mexico.
Oh, we can go as we are, sweetie.
Just as we are.
Wasn't very smart, y'know -
poor-mouthing like that in front
of Otterlake. Know who he is?
Of course, I do - I've seen his pictures –
Big hits, both of 'em –
Tell him who he is, Uncle.
Brooksie's old man owns half the trees
And y'know what Billy told him? He told
him we're in trouble.
Well, aren't we?
JAKE turns back to give him another steady, almost pitying look.
When we talk poor to the rich, William,
they jump to conclusions. They think
we're getting ready for a touch.
And that's what we're doing?
That could have been the general idea –
Till Uncle Billy loused it up on us.
Poor BILLY turns away...
(lurching out of the shadows)
Mr. Hannaford –
No more questions, junior –
As it happens, I did one of the earliest
really positive critical appraisals –
Well, hooray for you.
Well, he's bound to feel SOME gratitude –
Brooksie Otterlake’s a chum...
(gently, friendly - but with a delicate hint
of severity). We don't hustle our chums
for dough, kid. We're kinda strict about
A tiny silence...
But Mr. HANNAFORD --
Excuse me, but... didn't I just hear
you saying –
(patting PISTER gently
on the cheek)
Always remember... that your heart is
God's little garden...
JAKE smiles at him and ambles off into the darkness...
The others trailing along after him or drifting away in different directions – Except for MATT who moves threateningly up to the flabbergasted PISTER:
That tape-recorder running?
But there IS a camera somewhere...
MATT turns sharply and squints suspiciously into the shadows... Seeing nothing, he gives PISTER another dirty look and leaves...
Don't let it bother you...
PISTER, turning near sightedly in the direction of the voice, finds ZIMMER standing just behind him...
Studying a man like Jake Hannaford –
that's an experience. Don't you miss
it. Stick with the job.
(dropping his voice to a tone at
once confidential and reassuring)
Eat a little shit, Mr. Pister...
JAKE and MAVIS
MAVIS is telling JAKE about the credits she needs to graduate from High School. BILLY arrives with DOCTOR BURROUGHS and presents him to JAKE
(If he'd been born earlier, DOCTOR BURROUGHS would have been the last man in town to give up spats).
Mr. Hannaford - Doctor Bradley – Pierce
(with his brightest smile)
Bradley PEASE Burroughs (nervous laugh)
Not that it matters! (holding out his hand)
How do you do, sir.
The Doc here is a professor of English
Literature in the Framistan Boarding
Academy for Boys –
Clivedale - that's the name of the school...
He also teaches dramatics.
And who do you think was my star pupil?
But of course, WE knew him then as “Oscar” –
(with a leer)
Tell about Aunt Daisy - with the funny hats.
BURROUGHS is becoming increasingly aware of the cameras.
I don't know that they were FUNNY...
She raised him, you told me - and ever
since the first day he could WALK –-
REVERSE ANGLE: ZARAH VALESKA
Standing apart watching the curious little scene at some distance.
What's the point of this?
...putting on shows. All dressed up in
Aunties’ gowns and hats and dresses --
ANOTHER ANGLE: MATT AND MAGGIE
(continuing to Maggie)
And the way Dale tells it, he didn't
even WANT to be an actor...
Sure, that was supposedly JAKE’S idea –
He practically FORCED him...
Down there in Acapulco?
Yes, what was he doing there?
I mean, besides getting stoned –-
CUT BACK TO: MAIN SCENE
BURROUGHS treats JAKE to a smile compounded of pity and affection for his old student and the assurance that JAKE will be understanding.
He made the trip just to see you...
...And the change of name?
For that, I'm afraid, we'll have to
blame Oscar Wilde.
Do go on, Doctor.
Well, we had this teacher... It was
one of those unpleasant little scandals...
CUT TO: REVERSE ANGLES:
ZARAH as she turns away, then CUT TO:
MAGGIE and OTTERLAKE:
This teacher was a faggot?
Does all this matter?
I think it does to Jake...
CUT BACK TO:
JAKE AND BURROUGHS
BURROUGHS, increasingly uneasy about all the busy cameras surrounding him, coughs and purses his lips.
The story concerns my SCHOOL: I'm
in no position to publish about
a petty –-
Publish and be damned, Doctor. Look –
they've run out of film - you can speak
off the record...
This last is accompanied by a quick glance (almost a wink!) into the lens of the second camera which is still following...
A brief silence – BURROUGHS is still flushed with the excitement of being the center of all this attention,
but by now he is feeling quite nervous about the particular turn this multi-media interview is taking.
Dale himself was in no way involved;
but among the boys, there was a good
deal of morbid conversation, I'm afraid,
on unhealthy subjects. As you can imagine –
the name “Oscar”...
JAKE gives him his steady “man of man” look:
(A good equivalent to the straight arm on the shoulder)
(in a tone of the
most perfect warmth
What happened to that teacher?
We let him go, of course.
(still gently, but
closing the trap)
Let him go? What about the police?
The POLICE? The poor man was sick,
Those young boys - they weren't sick
when he finished with 'em?
(hardening) That's a prison offense,
isn't it - How many minors do you have
I hope you're not worried about Dale...
You think I should be?
Wouldn't that depend, Mr. Hannaford,
on your own personal interest?
(after a very short beat)
What are you driving at, Burroughs?
(cutting him off)
I'm just his director, not his Aunt Daisy.
And I'm just his English Teacher!
(a self-conscious little laugh)
JAKE looks at him for a moment... He's allowed the scene to get a little out of control. Now he's going to get back on top.
(with the Hannaford smile)
(pulling himself together)
But certainly, he has every reason to
be grateful to you... (archly) And I'm
sure that some day, when one of his fine
performances gets the Academy Award,
you'll be grateful to HIM.
(straight into camera)
Notice how careful he is not to refer to
it as an “Oscar” (back to Burroughs)
Doctor, would you care for a dip?
A dip?... in the pool? What a grand
A little more hooch should be helpful –
I'll be right with you.
Good... Good. And where do I change?
Here, Dr. Burroughs, in the sight of God;
I won't even peek.
Yes... I suppose all school teachers are
I suppose so. Prigs or queers.
Now, now, Mr. Hannaford!
Now, now, Dr. Burroughs!
His reaction to this curious little charade.
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