ORSON WELLES – DIRECTOR
This is sort of a postscript. The material included here is from my collection of ads, programs, scans and various other paper collectibles regarding Welles’ first stab at directing in Hollywood. Obviously, the auction material is not mine – just the scans. Material representing all his completed films made during the 40s is here except—obviously—AMBERSONS. With the KANE I tried to present the film’s transformation from pre-release, a critical success into a classic and then film icon. Welles made THE STRANGER under severe creative restrictions but as it turned out, it was the only film Welles directed in Hollywood that actually turned a profit when first released. Regarding LADY FROM SHANGHAI, when Welles cut wife Rita Hayworth’s red hair, dyed it blond he created a worldwide media sensation that is still talked about today. As for MACBETH, even before Welles completed editing, he had already left for Europe to begin the second phase of his directing career—independent film making.
WELLES ARRIVES IN NEW YORK FOR KANE PREMIERE
THE MOTION PICTURE HERALD: WHAT THE PICTURE DID FOR ME
CITIZEN KANE COLLECTIBLES
Kane related material that came up for auction Including Welles’ Oscar.
CITIZEN KANE REDUX
TROPSPER AT BOTTEM RIGHT – DRESSED FOR HER PART IN THE FILM – GOING OVER MATERIAL WITH WELLES.
WORKING WITH ORSON
I found this letter on eBay in 2007 and threw the scans into a computer file thinking I might use them someday and someday turned out to be today. Kathryn Trosper was 24 when, during the filming of CITIZEN KANE, she wrote this letter to Jack Moss which serves as a snapshot of the production. Although Trosper worked as Orson Welles personal assistant, Welles gave her a bit part at the end of the film playing the photographer who asks, “what is Rosebud.” Consequently, before her death in 2016, at age 100, Trosper was the last living cast member. Hired by Welles in 1939, she was involved with CITIZEN KANE from its inception until the film went into release and even typed up Welles’ script pages as he wrote them. Therefore Trosper was in a unique position to write about both Welles and the filming.
September 10, 1940
It seems like there is much to tell you. My personal situation with Orson is much better than it was then – I am hit over the head only every second Tuesday afternoon now – we shoot every night until 7:30 – and usually an hour or so later. Occasionally he had an all-night session, but the god-damned unions have him stymied a little because when he works all night he has to have a ten–hour interval for crew. It was never like this in the theater! But he is truly getting some wonderful results. The opera sequence is unbelievable. The Bernstein narration is out of this world. Everett is very good. Erskin Sanford steals every shot he’s in, and they’ve made the composing room, the welcome to the Inquirer……(The next seven lines were illegible but I could make out that Trosper discussed other scenes as well as the long hours everyone was putting in. She brought up the chorus girl scene about to be filmed and the affect the girls might have on the men.) They haven’t seen a dame around here for so long – being almost completely isolated out here at Pathe – and they get home so late the wives have all formed a boycott – so rape I’m sure will be the order of the day with those sixteen chorus cuties. I must say they don’t kill me – but also they ain’t hay, you should excuse me.
Orson’s foot episode is one which should only be written by a master. I wish I could express to you some slight way an impression of it. So with this apologetic preamble I’ll tell briefly about it. In his great coat, no doubt slightly hampered by an assortment of health belt, old jock straps and ham, he stumbled and fell down a very steep stairway built on the set. It’s just a sprain says he and after a break for lunch they went on with shooting. He said that the ankle was broken in two places and X-ray and hospital quick. But the confusion and running around was wonderful. Orson had by this time consumed an entire fifth of a rather cheap brandy, and since he hasn’t drunk in so long, it was beginning to have a slight effect. So Donahue [Assistant director Edward Donahue], a driver Bert and Alfalfa [Welles’ Valet] and Bill Alland and I went to Good Samaritan – Donahue thoughtfully buying more brandy on the way down. Orson insisted that we drink with him – and each time we’d hit a bump, I’d shoot the bottle to him. By the time we got to the hospital, he was practically out, and by the time we got him to the Xray-room, he was completely out. There were great mutterings about getting Dr. Bernstein out at once; I had calls to him. The X-ray showed a fracture-sprain and the insurance doctor insisted that he stay for the night. So we got him a room (and he was a frightening looking object believe me – with gobs of that rubber make-up torn off and his eyes blood shot and hair stringing down) and literally scaring the be-Jesus out of them We finally got him settled in his room and a little interview with the admitting nurse was amusing. When asked if he had any religion he seriously told the nurse he was a member of “The Great I AM” organization – he’d never been in a hospital before because he had faith. He was an American and proud of it – aren’t we all? References; Johann Haussman (carefully spelling it out) who could be reached twenty-four hours a day at Paramount.
For ten days or two weeks afterwards (with Dr. Bernstein who came out to be in attendance) Orson was rolled around the lot in his wheelchair or hobbled pitifully around on his crutches. My job was to massage, gently, the foot twice a day – because I have the healing touch. This was done, whenever possible, in full view of the entire set – and not a little embarrassing to me to have to sit there pummeling away at a foot which is grotesque enough under normal conditions. Now it is strapped up in some sort of little leather business and he gets around as well as ever. One night at Ciro’s, with Jo Cotton and Toland and the lady, he made a spectacular entrance with crutches and at least twelve people helping him – and two hours later he danced with Del-Rio. But left on crutches, the way he came in. This was picked up by a few local columnists, so I suppose there is that seed of doubt that anything had actually happened to him.
A week ago, they came running here from the set and screamed; Get another doctor! Mr. Welles has hurt himself again! This time, in pushing off the type, he had cut his little finger to the bone and amidst blood and gore he had three stitches take in it. This too has passed.
Four days ago – with foot in brace, finger in bandages, he came walking into the bungalow twisted and contorted – ordered a masseur – friend of Maurie, the Russian – whose card later disclosed he was a rectal specialist) and was treated for neuritis. That too has passed, and unless he gets a slight dose, (pardon me) I don’t really know what else can happen to him, but it will.
Baer [an executive assistant on the film] is functioning very efficiently and seems to be quite happy which may or may not be due to the fact that he and three boys are taking a lovely house at the beach – and they’re just together constantly.
Members of the organization are getting fairly well – and the only feud going on at the moment is between Bill Alland and Everett Sloane. Sloane slightly resented correction from the dialogue director on timing (under the assumption that it was a mistake of Orson’s timing) – Alland said all right he would tell Orson – and Everett called him a stool-pigeon, which hurt Bill’s feelings – and has threatened to fight it out as soon as the picture is over. This may or may not die down. I will keep you posted.
The following production stills are from CITIZEN KANE. I had them sitting in a computer file and was using them to study exactly how Welles executed this or that shot. I hadn’t planned to use them on this site but, after Kathryn Trosper’s humorous letter gave me the spirit of the production, I now look at these stills in a entirely different light. Instead of serious, the stills are fun – Orson Welles style. So, instead of letting them sit in a file I included them here. When Orson Welles made a movie – as hard as it may have been to make – he always had fun making it because he gave his creativity free rein. In fact, so much so, that it became infectious to everyone who worked with him. In other words, “I think it would be fun to run a newspaper.”
COMINGORE IN THE “CITIZEN KANE” TRAILER
All the leading actors in CITZEN KANE went on to long and successful Hollywood careers—that is except Dorothy Comingore. Following KANE the actress only appeared in three films—all but one were bit parts—and did three television shows before her acting career came to an abrupt end in 1951. Part of this was of her own making – she was considered “difficult”- but most of it was caused by others and would prove the great tragedy of CITIZEN KANE.
In 1941, having given a career defining performance in KANE, Comingore was suddenly in great demand. Unfortunately, not only did she turn down part after part—wanting her next role to be in an important film—but RKO, the studio which had her under contract, refused to loan her out. Eventually she became sick and when she returned to the studio, for various reasons, was fired. A bit of a firebrand – when at Columbia she called studio head Harry Cohn a schmuck to his face – she soon found work hard to come by and began drinking, eventually becoming an alcoholic. Because her second husband had been a fervent member of The Communist party in the 1930s (he would give names) and because of her for her own union activities, Comingore was called before HUAC in 1951. But, unlike her second husband, she not only refused to testify but had audience and reporters laughing at the committee. Now blacklisted, and because of her alcoholism, her second husband sued for and won custody of their two children. A few months later came a solicitation charge, believed to be trumped up by local police due to her HUAC testimony. The charge was dropped when, at the request of her third husband, Comingore agreed to “a short stay” at a mental facility to treat her alcoholism; a short stay that lasted two years. Now stripped of her visitation rights with her children, following her stay in the mental facility, Comingore married again but, due to a broken back, became a recluse for the rest of her life. In December 1971, just as KANE was enjoying a massive resurgence due to Pauline Kael’s “Raising Kane,” and the bruhaha about it, the actress died at age 58 in total obscurity from pulmonary disease brought on by alcoholism. It was a sad end to life that had showed so much promise.
A little known fact is that Dorothy Comingore was pregnant during the entire filming of Citizen Kane and gave birth to her first child, a daughter, a week after the film completed principal photography.
Most of the photographs below are publicity stills sent to newspapers and magazines to promote CITIZEN KANE when Comingore’s career was on an upward trajectory. (A few are pre-Kane from her time at Columbia when she worked under the name Linda Winters. She changed her name back to Comingore when Welles signed her for Kane.) The last photos are of Comingore with her baby daughter born a week after Kane completed shooting, her appearance before HUAC and, finally, photos of her under arrest for solicitation.
TESTIFYING BEFORE HUAC
UNDER ARREST FOR SOLICITATION
I had the press kit for RKO 281 and, because it wasn’t anyplace else on the web I thought – for historical purposes – I might as well add it to the KANE material on this page. There have only been a handful of movies produced about the making of a particular film. RKO 281 is the best. Having seen the PBS Documentary THE BATTLE OVER CITIZEN KANE director Ridley Scott liked it so much that he decided to produce a feature length film based on the documentary and, thus, the reason RKO 281 came about. Incidentally, 281 was the production number of CITIZEN KANE. In other words, CITIZEN KANE was the 281st production made by RKO since it opened its doors more than a decade earlier.
RKO 281’s ORSON WELLES
ORSON WELLES’ ORSON WELLES
RKO 281’s ORSON WELLES AND HERMAN MANKIEWICZ
ORSON WELLES AND HERMAN MANKIEWICZ AS THEMSELVES
RKO 281’s LOUELLA PARSONS
AN EXTREMELY COMPLIMENARY PHOTO OF LOUELLA PARSONS
RKO 281’s MARION DAVIES AND WILLIAM RANDOLF HEARST
MARION DAVIES AND WILLIAM RANDOLF HEARST AT PLAY. HEARST LOVED DAVIES IN PANTS