CITIZEN KANE overtook him in the way that some of us have been describing on another thread here.
Callow snidely takes a postion of critical superiority toward the early works themselves, on which Welles' reputation was based....
...Callow, from the evidence in The Road to Xanadu, thinks he has Welles' pegged as a phony, an egomaniac, and a creation of American PR, which a wellbred Englishman of 1930's (or of Callow's generation) would have enjoyed "taking the mickey out of."
...the Callow book mentions homosexuality way too many times, makes innuendos that are likely inaccurate, if not downright slanderous, and implies that homosexuality is central to Orson Welles's story, which it is not. However, if you let the whole topic of homosexuality go, the Callow book is for me the most worthwhile of the Welles biographies.
Personally, whether or not he was bi seems almost irrelevant, but given that he's been dead for 20 years and not a shred of evidence (or even real good gossip) has emerged actually makes me doubt it. How many others from the closet is this true of? It always comes out when they're dead, however well they protected it when alive.
...Francis Carpenter, a friend of both Orson and Virginia, [was] thought of by those who remember him as camp beyond the dreams of Quentin Crisp, someone who, at a time of rigid sexual typing, flaunted his outrageousness without inhibition. His audition, Houseman observes, was of 'prodigious obscenity'. Both the Welles were deeply fond of him; in Welles' case there may have been more than simply friendly affection. William Alland, as close as anyone to Welles shortly after the period under discussion, avers that without question Welles and Carpenter had had a sexual relationship, and were publicly prone to furious rows and extravagant reconciliations. Whatever the truth of this, Carpenter remained part of Welles loose-knit theatrical family almost to the end, finally appearing in KING LEAR at the City Center in 1956. During the Second World War he astonished his circle by performing acts of conspicuous gallantry on the battlefield, for which he was much decorated - a notion which amused him no end.
In other words, if you want to understand OW's attitude and overall demeanour, his (social) influences are self-evident. He may well have been bisexual, but mechanically speaking, that's an entirely different issue. The conventional approach of assigning everyone/everything to rigid little boxes will miss this point... and, presumably, miss the whole point of Orson Welles, period.
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