What Ever Happened To Orson Welles? by Joseph McBride
Joseph McBride's third book on Orson Welles, entitled "What Ever Happen To Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career" won�t be in bookstores until this October, but in a highly questionable move, it was reviewed today � nearly two months early � in tandem with Simon Callow�s "Hello Americans" in the Los Angeles Times.
Richard Schickel, the author of the review, is the esteemed film critic for Time magazine, and the article has been posted on the message board by Ray Kelly. After reading Schickel�s review, I could only wonder how a major newspaper and a supposedly knowledgeable film critic could commit such an error-ridden travesty to print. But since Mr. Schickel�s review isn�t so much about the books he supposed to be reviewing, but more about his own personal opinions of Orson Welles career, I e-mailed�Joseph McBride the following letter.�
I Just saw Richard Schickel's review of your book, and frankly was absolutely astonished that such a supposed film authority could write such a piece full of errors, half-truths and (excuse my French) Shit!
What's truly bizarre is that Richard Schickel hardly mentions what he's supposed to be talking about, which are the two books on Orson Welles he�s purportedly reviewing (yours and Simon Callow�s). Since I haven't read either book yet, I can't say much about that aspect of his review, but Schickel didn�t either. In fact, judging from his review, I�d say he probably didn't even read the books in their entirety.
It appears that Mr. Schickel simply wanted to rehash the same old story about Orson Welles � the familiar one we�ve all heard so many times before: The genius that made one great film, got fat and ended up doing wine commercials in his later years. Well, excuse me, but isn�t that the very story you were trying to repudiate in your book? If it was, I presume it must have flown past Mr. Schickel while he was dozing off, which is perhaps understandable, since at age 73, Mr. Schickel can hardly be considered to be in his prime and he certainly doesn�t have his pulse on current thoughts or trends in filmmaking.
But even if Mr. Schickel�should have retired some years back, what�s truly incredible is�how anyone at this point in film scholarship could seriously make the ridiculous claim that the man who is internationally recognized as the world�s greatest film director had no career in movies � either as an independent filmmaker, or as a director who (quite obviously), didn�t fit into the Hollywood system.
I hope you will give serious thought to sending a rebuttal to the L A Times�taking�them to task for allowing such a absurd piece to see the light of day in their paper, if for no other reason than the many factual errors that Mr. Schickel commits. Apparently, like Pauline Kael, Mr. Schickel is a writer who believes his reputation negates the need for either research or checking his facts before committing them to print. But even on the basis of his very dubious opinions, Mr. Schickel�s review was quite upsetting to read, which I suppose is what�he intended to do in the first place. Or perhaps there�s something you wrote about Welles in the� book that set Schickel on his Jihad. If that is the case, I�m truly looking forward to reading it come October.
NOTE: Mr. McBride�tells�me he will be happy to talk to Wellesnet for a detailed interview about his new book, which promises to be a fascinating look at Orson Welles late career. It is the period when Welles made what most scholars agree is his greatest film, "Falstaff". Of course, "Falstaff" �is probably a film that Mr. Schickel has never even seen.