ORSON WELLES featured as The Godfather of Independent filmmakers in TCM’s EDGE OF OUTSIDE airing in July
Of course the producers hated me most, because if I could do all those things, than what is the need for a producer?
� �Orson Welles���������
Without final cut an artist cannot function.
� �Henry Jaglom���
It�s insane that filmmakers have to play that game, and that�s why movies suck!
� �Ed Burns�
Given TCM�s status as television�s premier movie channel, it�s gratifying to report that one of their first in-house documentaries, Edge of Outside, more than lives up to the high standards filmgoers have to come to expect from them. In fact, with�the cookie cutter approach that most documentaries about movies adopt (and one that I was expecting to encounter here), it was quite a surprise to find�director Shannon Davis has given us such a refreshing and fascinating look at some of the screens most creative directors. Ms. Davis accomplishes this by grouping together several maverick directors who all challenged the status quo laid down by staid studio executives, and also had to fight bitter battles (usually losing), to bring their highly artistic cinematic visions to fruition. Among the directors discussed are Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, John Cassavetes, Sam Peckinpah, Arthur Penn, Stanley Kubrick and of course, Orson Welles. All these men shared the misfortune of losing control over at least one of their movies, which usually led them towards the path of independent filmmaking. �
With that premise, and given a brief running time of 64 minutes, director Davis doesn�t resort to simply giving us brief recaps of each directors career, but assumes her viewers are a film savvy bunch, who know a few things about the work of these men. That allows her to more fully explore the theme of the outsider working on the edge of Hollywood. This, in turn, gives Davis the leeway�to�grow her documentary in a more organically interesting way, and also provides the opportunity to�revisit several directors throughout the movie as key questions are raised. The doc. also grounds itself historically, by giving brief mentions to silent directors D. W. Griffith, Erich Von Stroheim and Charlie Chaplin, notes�the important role Roger Corman played�in lauching many of today�s independent minded directors�with his�brand of �low-budget guerilla filmmaking, and continues up through todays current iconoclasts such as David Lynch. Naturally, chief among all movie iconoclasts is Orson Welles, who remains one of the most celebrated cases of a director obtaining control over his art, only to find that control�being violently ripped from his hands. So it�s fitting that Welles is given the star position in Edge of Outside, as Welles was one of the first to seek financing independent of Hollywood, and served as the de facto �Godfather� figure to all of the independent directors who� followed in his wake. And like the elder statesman he is, Welles pops up throughout the doc. in interview clips (taken from TNT�s OW: Stories from a Life on Film) commenting on his outsider status in Hollywood.��In fact, Edge of Outside, seems to have taken a cue from Welles own late work, in that it becomes more of an interesting �essay film� rather than a straight-forward documentary, along the lines of Welles� own F For�Fake. Result is a sheer delight, as seeing interview clips from even familiar material takes on new meaning here, since it�s edited to fit�a new context.� There is also plenty of new and rarely seen material to savor, as well, including vintage�interview segments with Nicholas Ray and Sam Peckinpah, and�new interviews with Arthur Penn, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdonovich, Henry Jaglom and John Sayles among others, which Davis and her expert team of editors have culled down considerably in order to make their comments right on target. An interesting side note to consider, is that of all the talented directors covered here�Welles, Scorsese, Ray,�Penn, even Hitchcock��their true outsider status is perhaps best brought home by this astonishing fact: not� a single one of them has ever won a �best directing� Oscar.
In any case, be sure�to catch�Edge of Outside, as it is that rarest of documentaries, one that is not only well researched and�executed, but is also�never boring (at least for film fans).��In fact, with the copious amounts of rare interview footage and clips at TCM�s disposal, perhaps we will�eventually see an expanded edition of Edge of Outside� make it�s way�to DVD.��
TCM�s website for Edge of Outside: