A report on the Dax Foundation screening of Orson Welles’s FALSTAFF at the Egyptian Theater
Wellesnet members Craig Weinstein and Leigh Gordon attended the Dax Foundation screening of Falstaff on July 30th and provided some interesting news about the event.
Leigh tells me that besides the original promotional material from Falstaff, the Dax Foundation also had the Academy Award Orson Welles won for Citizen Kane on display.
You can see pictures of the Citizen Kane Oscar at the Wellesnet Facebook page HERE.
The Dax Foundation acquired the Oscar directly from Beatrice Welles and apparently also brought the rights to Othello from Beatrice. Which means a new, double or even triple disc version of Othello may now be possible!
Peter Bogdanovich is urging the Dax foundation to consider releasing a DVD of both the original Welles 1955 United Artists version of the film, alongside the restored Castle Hill version, with it's supposedly "improved" soundtrack.
What could even further enhance such a DVD release, would be to include the complete version of Filming Othello, and possibly even the third European cut of Othello, which had titles spoken by Welles.
Below is Craig's report on the Falstaff screening, which was totally sold-out!
Falstaff at the Egyptian
By Craig Weinstein
Arriving at Graumann’s Egyptian Theater on July 30th, 2009 I was just in time to see a great cinematic gem—Orson Welles’ 1965 Falstaff (Chimes At Midnight). I had only seen the film on a Japanese laserdisc dub to VHS in the past and obviously the transfer couldn’t do justice to a film that deserves much better than bootleg viewer-ship in the USA on small television screens. Imagine how happy I was when I got a chance from Wellesnet to see the film projected on a large screen!
As it turned out, the movie was being screened at one of the smaller theaters downstairs and not at their famously enormous main theater, with upstairs and downstairs seating.
I arrived just in time to see Falstaff and his cohort Justice Shallow walking through a snow covered landscape and into a cabin where, immediately, we see Welles’ trademark use of low camera angles, emphasizing the intricately constructed wooden ceilings. Then I began to notice: this wasn’t a 35mm print of Chimes. It was an NTSC copy (although far superior to the one I’d previously described). I then understood why the film was being shown in the Egyptian’s small theater—even here I could see areas where we desperately needed more detail in the background of many wide angle shots.
Even so, I have seen Chimes maybe four times prior to this experience and despite my frustration over the unavailability of 35mm prints and hoping for a good High-Def transfer, watching it on a large screen even in a small theater made it magic all over again. It is amazing what watching a film in a theater does to change it completely from watching it on a television set at home. Everyone present loved the drama and humor in the film and poignant scene changes, (such as the “I’d have him poisoned with a pot of ale” line spoken by Henry Percy). The Battle of Shrewsbury took on an immersive appeal now that you had so much action to look at and keep up with outside of your immediate narrow field of view. In any Welles film you have so much to look at and the viewing experience is always improved and changed if you have the rare chance to see one of them in a theatrical setting.
When the lights came up, a gentleman stepped in front of the audience and thanked everyone for attending. He mentioned how important this movie was to Mr. Welles; far more than his world-renown Citizen Kane. A short explanation of the Dax Foundation’s goals as an organization followed that emphasized their dedication to the protection and safety of animals.
As we filed out of the theater and into the Egyptian’s deep red lobby I was still caught up in the magic of a truly masterful film. I’m glad I was able to see it in a theater as intended and I will do so again in the future whenever the chance presents itself.