Journey Into Fear (1943): Director: Norman Foster; Starred: Joseph Cotten, Dolores Del Rio, Ruth Warrick, Agnes Moorhead, Everett Sloane. Screenplay by Cotten and Welles. 71 minutes. This slight but entertaining World War II thriller features Cotten as an American engineer in Turkey pursued by Nazis who seek the information he posesses. Smuggled on board a steamer, he meets a strange variety of people, including Welles' girlfriend of the time, Del Rio, who plays a dancer. Jack Moss, Welles' business manager, plays a hitman. Welles himself plays Colonel Haki of the Turkish police, and he clearly relishes the lightweight, hammy material. Enjoyable stuff all around. Despite some flaws, it holds up pretty well. Journey Into Fear has been released on laserdisc and videotape but is out of print either way.
Jane Eyre (1943): Director: Robert Stevenson; Starred: Joan Fontaine, Margaret O'Brien, Agnes Moorhead, Elizabeth Taylor. Music by Bernard Herrmann. 97 minutes. An adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte Gothic classic, Welles stars as the brooding Rochester, who harbors a dark secret within his home. (In case you're one of the few people who've never read or seen a screen version of this, I won't spoil it) Joan Fontaine is the title character, and she gives a good performance in what is a decent film of the book, despite chopping a lot of story out to reduce the film to a simple romance. The moody Herrmann score is available in a re-recorded version on CD from Marco Polo (MP 8223535). Film available on video.
Follow the Boys (1944): Director: Edward Sutherland; Starred: Marlene Dietrich, George Raft, W.C. Fields, Donald O'Connor, and others. 114 minutes. This stinkbomb was made to capitalize off the boom for patriotic films, and gathers together many popular performers of the time, ostensibly brought together by Raft's character to perform shows for the "boys" fighting for us in WW2. Simply made money for the studio in reality, and not very entertaining, aside from Welles' sequence which gives us a look at what the Mercury Wonder Show might have been like. Welles and Dietrich perform the woman sawed in half trick, with an amusing twist at the end. The rapport between Welles and Dietrich is nice to watch, and about the only watchable thing in the film, which revolves around the failing marriage of Raft's character and his wife, because of various misunderstandings and such. He dies at the end. We don't feel too sorry. See it for the Welles stuff though, and then turn it off. Currently available on video.
Tomorrow is Forever (1946): Director: Irving Pichel; Starred: Claudette Colbert, Natalie Wood. Music by Max Steiner. 105 minutes This turgid melodrama revolves around Welles' character, who returns from WW1 twenty years after the war, having been thought long dead. But wait! Welles' character doesn't just come back, he comes back disguised as an Austrian scientist with a foster daughter (Woods). Currently available on video.
Black Magic (1949): Director: Gregory Ratoff; Starred: Akim Tamaroff, Nancy Guild, Valentina Cortese, Raymond Burr. 105 minutes. Welles stars here as Cagliostro the magician, a role clearly made for him, and he appears to love every minute of it. Cagliostro's parents are killed by the fiendish Vicomte de Montagne, so when the grown up Cagliostro gets the chance for revenge, he takes it, and if that happens to include gaining the throne of France, then that's an added bonus. Clearly hokum, but highly enjoyable stuff, the kind of film Hollywood "doesn't make anymore." The biggest flaw with the film is that the Cagliostro is the most appealing, charismatic, exciting character in the film, and he's the bad guy. Everyone else, with the exception of Tamaroff as Cagliostro's sidekick, turns in mediocre performances and the script doesn't help. Plus, they're all dull compared to Cagliostro. So what if he turns out to be a megalomaniac? At least he's entertaining. Currently out of print on video, but well worth searching for.
The Third Man (1949) Director: Carol Reed; Starring: Joseph Cotton, Aida Valli, OW, Trevor Howard. No doubt the most popular role Welles ever played, as it spawned a spinoff radio show and seems ubiquitous in any typical general coverage of Welles. And why not? This was a role made for Welles, where his character is the focus of attention without ever being on screen. When he finally appears, we are primed for the moment, and it comes off beautifully. A superb film, with a great cast. The Criterion DVD is the best presentation yet of the film on video (unsurprisingly).
Prince of Foxes (1949): Director: Henry King; Starring: Tyrone Power, Everett Sloane, Katina Paxinou, Wanda Hendrix. 107 minutes. Welles stars as Cesare Borgia, who sends Power's character out on a mission to kill an enemy. Power ends up betraying his employer. Power defeats Borgia on the battlefield and wins the girl in the end. A role taken to help pay for Othello, Welles is actually quite good in this. I believe this is out of print on video (if it was ever in print), but it shows up on AMC every so often.
The Black Rose (1950): Director: Henry Hathaway; Starring: Tyrone Power, Cecile Aubry, Jack Hawkins, Michael Renie, Herbert Lom, Laurence Harvey. 120 minutes. Another Tyrone Power vehicle, and a frankly cheesy one, with Power as a disposessed nobleman who goes on the lam and joins up with Bayan (Welles), a Mongol chieftain. Power and a pal try to rescue a slave girl, known as the Black Rose, from the evil clutches of Bayan, only to get caught and tortured. Power eventually takes the secrets of gunpowder and paper back to England where he is forgiven and gets his lands back. As I said, a cheesy flick. Out of print on video, but sometimes shows up on cable.