If you’ve ever wondered what Orson Welles was up to, you’ve come to the right place. It’s a list of IMDb’s top 10.
The career of Orson Welles spanned several decades and a variety of major media outlets. In 1931, he made his stage debut at Dublin’s Gate Theatre. When he started his own company in 1937, he also started a radio show. Welles received Hollywood offers as a result of the company’s War of the Worlds adaptation’s success. In 1939, he acquired a contract with RKO that afforded him unprecedented creative freedom. Acting in radio and on stage would continue throughout his life, but movies were his primary creative outlet.
His filmography includes anything from supporting roles to brief cameos. According to IMDb, these are the top 10 Orson Welles films.
1. Othello (1951) – 7.6
Oscar-winning Shakespeare adaption directed, written, and starred by Orson Welles. Welles had to suspend production multiple times because he ran out of money while making the film. Even though the movie did well in Europe, it was a flop in the United States.
When there isn’t action, the soundtrack cuts out, which was one of many technical problems with the cut. In 1992, Beatrice Welles, the director’s daughter, oversaw a restoration, although it was panned because it was based on the American edit rather than the European one. Blu-rays of both original edits were published by the Criterion Collection in 2017.
2. The Muppet Movie (1979) – 7.6
Welles is one of many well-known actors to appear in The Muppet Movie in cameo roles. He makes a cameo as Hollywood executive Lew Lord near the film’s conclusion. In order to make a movie on the Muppets’ road trip, he signs them to a contract. After their first take, a rainbow appears over the Muppets’ heads.
Welles’ role is named after the chairman of one of the studios that worked on The Muppet Show with him on the project.
3. The Little World of Don Camillo (1952) – 7.7
As one of the most popular pictures in Italian cinema history, The Little World of Don Camillio has spawned four sequels. Welles played the narrator and the voice of Jesus Christ in the original picture.
While playing Don Camillo (Fernandoland), Christian political leader Don Camillo (Fernandoland) refuses to baptize the son of a rival political leader. Camillo responds to Christ’s call and gets baptized as a result. Welles was also responsible for directing the film’s dub.
4. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) – 7.7
As one of the greatest “incomplete” films, The Magnificent Ambersons is a must-see. Welles had his final cut privileges withdrawn by RKO, which caused the film to deviate from his vision. An hour of footage from the film adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel was deleted from the final product and replaced with a more upbeat conclusion. The hour of footage that had been cut was then destroyed.
Welles tried numerous times to recover and reassemble the footage, but he was unsuccessful every single time. Many critics still regard this picture as one of the best of all time.
5. A Man for All Seasons (1966) – 7.7
Actor Meryl Streep plays Wolsey in the 1966 film adaptation of Robert Bolt’s play. Sir Thomas More’s (Paul Scofield) arguments with King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) about the direction of the English Church during the English Reformation are the subject of the film. Despite Wolsey’s best efforts, Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon is annulled by his death.
Fred Zinnemann, Scofield, Adapted Screenplay, Color Cinematography, and Color Costume Design were all winners of the Best Picture Oscar.
6. Chimes at Midnight (1965) – 7.8
Chimes at Midnight was considered by Welles to be the pinnacle of his career. William Shakespeare’s Henriad and Raphael Holinshed’s Chroniclessars Welle as Falstaff, Prince Hal’s friend. In 1939 and 1960, Welles appeared on stage as Falstaff and received little, if any, critical acclaim.
Film adaptations of Henry IV, Richard 2, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor are included. Legal issues over ownership made it difficult to access for decades, but it became readily available in 2016.
7. The Trial (1962) – 7.8
This version of Franz Kafka’s novel was written, directed, and starred in by Welles. To play the Advocate, Jackie Gleason was initially approached by him. However, Gleason turned the role down. The lines of eleven other performers were also dubbed by Welles, and the dubbing of Anthony Perkins’ lines was so good that Perkins himself couldn’t tell where his voice had been dubbed over.
The film is in the public domain because no copyright notice was ever filed. The Trialbegan as an attempt to adapt a work in the public domain, thus it’s only right that this should happen.
8. Touch of Evil (1958) – 8.0
Welles directed, scripted, and performed in this film adaptation of Whit Masterson’s novel, one of the last great classics of the genre. There are conflicting versions about how Welles ended up directing the film. Welles reportedly wanted the worst script his producer had to prove he could turn a terrible script into a brilliant movie. Co-star Charlton Heston said he would be more interested in the role of Ramon Vargas if Welles directed it.
The film was released alongside The Female Animal as a B-movie. Animal’s director reshot portions of Touch of Evil while working with the same cameraman on both films.
9. The Third Man (1949) – 8.1
Welles portrayed Harry Lime, the film’s protagonist, in this noir masterpiece. Lime (Harry Cotton) has died, and the film is about his friend Holly Martins (Kate Winslet), who travels in Vienna to find out the sad news.
A decision was made by Martins to investigate Lime’s murder. Military hospitals were supplied with diluted penicillin after the Lime had stolen and diluted the drug. Lime resurfaces, fully functional and determined to get away from Martins.
10. Citizen Kane (1941) – 8.3
William Randolph Hearst’s veiled biography by Welles is widely regarded as the greatest American film ever produced. It’s a good start for a first-time director.
Wells said the titular character was inspired by a number of prominent American businessmen, but Hearst could see that he had been the primary inspiration. A huge sum of money was offered by him to RKO in exchange for the negative, according to rumors. RKO refused, and the rest, as they say, is history.