Orson Welles to Bernard Herrmann: “I love you truly and your heart is God’s little garden”
Bonham's auction house in London recently sold items from the estate of Bernard Herrmann which included some truly fascinating items from Orson Welles, including this letter, which sold for 360£.
Your letter brought me more pleasure than I can say. Not the tone of it, which was a trifle severe, but the fact of it. It was fine, very fine to hear from you.
“Our paths,” you say, “haven’t crossed much in recent years.” If this is so, it is no fault of your obedient servant, who in common with his principals in his last movie enterprise, tried long and earnestly to engage your services for any sum of time. You have now, against the advice of your sober friends, committed yourself to the Colonel von Fox Hills, he of the air-conditioned teeth. This letter is a plea that you get out of this bondage for at least enough time to make music for the film I’m now starting (directing) and to write the score for our projected LEAR which I have a mind to put into rehearsal about Christmas. This letter is also to tell you that I love you truly and that your heart is God’s little garden.
The letter is undated, so it is rather difficult to tell which King Lear project Welles might have been referring to, but my guess it is almost certainly NOT the Peter Brook directed TV version Welles did in 1953, but more likely the stage version of Lear Welles was planning that eventually debuted in January 1956 at City Center with music by Marc Blitzstein. Welles also appears to be talking about the efforts he and Richard Wilson made to get Herrmann to score Macbeth for him.
It also seems from his remarks, that Welles would have been more than delighted to have Herrmann score virtually any film he was going to make in the fifties, if he could free himself from his work at 20th Century-Fox. But the film that Welles says he is just starting and asks Herrmann to consider scoring was probably one of Welles many unrealized projects, although if it was Mr. Arkadin or even Touch of Evil it seems likely that Herrmann would never have completed his work, as Welles lost control of both of those films in the post-production stages.
A copy of Welles letter can be viewed at Bonhams Site, where several other Herrmann treasures are also available for viewing, including a copy of a book Welles had inscribed and sent to Herrmann as a Christmas present, Jorrocks Jaunts and Jollities. (Sale Price: 384 £.)
There is also a copy of the Hitchcock-Truffaut interview book (1967) that Hitchcock has inscribed to Herrmann: "To Benny with my fondest wishes, Hitch." (Sale Price: 3,120 £.)
This is rather interesting, because it comes a year after Hitchcock had abruptly fired Herrmann from his work scoring Torn Curtain and indicates Hitchcock may have hoped to mend fences with Herrmann and have him score his next film, Topaz.
Of course, once Herrmann felt he had been wronged, he was not going to say "yes" to Hitchcock unless he was courted and it seems unlikely that Hitchcock would be willing to do that, although apparently Hitchcock did ask Herrmann back to score his last film Family Plot right before Herrmann died. Herrmann, who had a full schedule of films planned for 1976, including DePalma's Carrie, The Seven Per Cent Solution and Larry Cohen's God Told Me To, was reportedly happy to be in a position to ignore Hitchcock's reunion offer.