Orson Welles
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Quotes for
Orson Welles (Character)
from Ed Wood (1994)

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RKO 281 (1999) (TV)
[Addressing the RKO shareholders]
Orson Welles: Good afternoon. Today, a man from Germany invaded Greece. He's already swallowed Poland, Denmark, Norway and Belgium. He's bombing London as I speak. Everywhere this man goes, he crushes the life and the freedom of his subjects. He sews yellow stars on their lapels, he takes their voices. In this country, we still have our voices. We can argue with them, and we can sing, and we can be heard because we are, for the moment, free. No one can tell us what to say or how to say it, can they? Gentlemen, I am one voice; that is all. My picture is one voice, one view, one opinion, nothing more. Men are dying in Europe now, and Americans soon will be so that we can surmount the tyrants and the dictators. Will you send a message across America that one man can take away our voices? So, who is Mr. Hearst, and who is Mr. Welles? Well, Mr. Hearst built a palace of brick and mortar, and little wars and corpses piled high. Mr. Welles built a palace of illusion. It's a, what we call a matte painting, it's a camera trick, it's nothing. Nothing but a dream. Today, you have the chance to let the dream triumph. Thank you.

Orson Welles: [to George] Everything I am, everything I could be is in that picture!

Orson Welles: I expected better of you, Mank.
Herman Mankiewicz: Me too, but I got used to it.

Herman Mankiewicz: What about Marion?
Orson Welles: Another animal in his zoo.
Herman Mankiewicz: That is love to him. "I love you, I built you a beautiful cage."

William Randolph Hearst: My battle with the world is almost over. Yours I'm afraid has just begun.
Orson Welles: Kane would've taken the tickets.

Orson Welles: Who are these men you're afraid of? Who are these tiny fucking men? They're accountants.

Orson Welles: We need to change the name.
Herman Mankiewicz: What? The title?
Orson Welles: No, no. It's a grand title, "American". I was thinking more the character name. Charles Foster Craig doesn't have the "knives-out" poetry I was looking for.
Herman Mankiewicz: Okay.
Orson Welles: I was thinking of Kane.
Herman Mankiewicz: As in Abel?
Orson Welles: K-A-N-E. One strong syllable, Kane.
Herman Mankiewicz: Craig is one syllable.
Orson Welles: Yes... But it's not a great syllable.

Orson Welles: [Referring to San Simeon] So how big is this monstrosity?
Herman Mankiewicz: The estate? Half the size of Rhode Island.
Orson Welles: You're kidding?
Herman Mankiewicz: No, it's the place God would have built if he had the money.

Herman Mankiewicz: Listen to me, you child. He doesn't worry about legalities. Do you know why? Because he has more power than you could even hope to imagine.
Orson Welles: All the more reason to do it.
Herman Mankiewicz: Because he insulted you at a dinner party?
Orson Welles: Because he's a hypocrite. Because he's a... a real turncoat. Because he claims to care about the common man when nothing could be further from the truth.
Herman Mankiewicz: Oh, he's a journalist. He owns Hollywood. We're the shit on his shoes. You better go back to Broadway, kiddo.
Orson Welles: I expected more from you, Mank.
Herman Mankiewicz: Yeah, me too, but I got used to it.
Orson Welles: How does it feel going up to the palace and amusing the lords and ladies with the same old stories they've heard a hundred times before? How does it feel being the ugly monkey they keep around to amuse themselves?

[last lines]
Herman Mankiewicz: Was it worth it?
Orson Welles: I don't know. I can't imagine doing it any other way. I suppose it's just my character.
Herman Mankiewicz: It won't be easy having made your masterpiece at 26.
Orson Welles: Is that what you think - that I'm just going to burn out at the ripe old age of 26?
Herman Mankiewicz: All stars burn out, Orson. It's the flame that counts.
Orson Welles: [toasting] To the flame.
Herman Mankiewicz: To the flame.


Me and Orson Welles (2008)
Orson Welles: Cinna is Shakespeare's indictment of the intelligentsia. He's a lofty, Byronic figure.

Orson Welles: Where is thou ukulele?
Richard Samuels: I think some asshole... doth... stole it

Orson Welles: Do you know Booth Tarkington's "The Magnificent Ambersons?" Tarkington was a family friend. The character of Eugene, the inventor, is based on my father who died when I was fifteen. My mother when I was nine. "Ambersons" is about how everything gets taken away from you.

Orson Welles: Look at us, Runyon. Me without my story and you without your girl. We can't ever tell what will happen at all, can we? Once I stood in Grand Central Station to say goodbye to a pretty girl. I was wild about her. In fact, we decided we couldn't live without each other, and we were to be married. When we came to say goodbye we knew we wouldn't see each other for almost a year. I thought I couldn't live through it - and she stood there crying. Well, I don't even know where she lives now, or if she is living. If she ever thinks of me at all, she probably imagines I'm still dancing in some ballroom somewhere... Life and money both behave like quicksilver in a nest of cracks. And when they're gone we can't tell where - or what the devil we did with 'em...

John Houseman: This is an infinitely rewarding partnership, Orson. You go around smashing everything, you disenfranchise every friend, every supporter we have. And then I'm left desperately trying to clean up your mess. Because I am the one who ends up making the apologies, making the corrections, and making the ten thousand phone calls...
Orson Welles: And I'm out acting in "The Shadow" and "The March of Time" and every other piece-of-shit radio show in this city, just to pour my money into this son-of-a-bitch theater that you're supposed to be running.
John Houseman: That I'm 'supposed to be running?' I am killing myself trying to run it!

Orson Welles: You really are a god created actor Richard. Those weren't just words you see. I recognize 'The Look'.
Richard Samuels: The Look?
Orson Welles: The bone deep understanding that your life is so utterly without meaning that simply to survive you have to reinvent yourself. Because if people can't find you, they can't dislike you. You see if I can be Brutus for 90 minutes tonight; I mean really be him, from the inside out; then for 90 minutes I get this miraculous reprieve from being myself. That's what you see in every great actor's eyes.

Orson Welles: [seeing new handbill] This is completely inadequate. Very possibly the worst looking thing I've ever seen in my life.
John Houseman: We've just had 50,000 of them printed.
Orson Welles: They're not entirely bad.

Orson Welles: [to standing ovation] How the hell do I top this?


Orson Welles's the Other Side of the Wind: A Film by Orson Welles (2011)
Werner Herzog Stipetic: Of course you can do it, Orson! Remember that time when we drank the magic yogurt, and became lost in the desert? And we found a camel, and the camel had four humps, and the humps were made of fire. And fire shot out from his nostrils, and his tongue was flaming red. And there was a rope ladder which was hanging from the sky, so we climbed up it, but we had to leave the camel behind, because camels cannot climb.
George Orson Welles: Thank you Werner. You're the only soul I can rely on any...
Werner Herzog Stipetic: That's great, Orson, but I really just came in to get a protein bar before I went back to work on the fence. Kinski's been sneaking onto the lawn, digging holes...

George Orson Welles: That was no Martian! It's Halloween!

George Orson Welles: Ladies and gentlemen, I don't believe there is any wisdom in compromise. I was going to show them, that they were wrong... I've spent my life trying to prove that what was said is wrong, and it has been an enormous waste of spirit and energy. There are black hats, and there are white hats, and I just wanted to be a white hat. I want to be remembered as a good guy, rather than a difficult genius. I'm so fucked.
[He begins furiously and haphazardly applying lipstick]
George Orson Welles: You're somebody's mother, you whore!

Craig: What's wrong, Orson?
George Orson Welles: Oh, Craig... I think I might be two midgets in an overcoat.

The Director: Listen, shitties. This shit is a hemorrhaging shitass. You're fucking it up. All of you suck. Fuck you. Shut up. Megan's going to come out and give you some instructions...
George Orson Welles: Who is that?
Werner Herzog Stipetic: Look, Klaus, perhaps this isn't the best time...
Klaus Kinski: TIME IS AN ABYSS!


Fade to Black (2006)
Orson Welles: [First lines, narrating, as graphic archival images of war and strife in Italy are shown] Oh, yes. The Second World War was quite a disaster for poor old Italy. Their Fascist leader, Mussolini, had teamed up with Hitler and thought he was on a winning ticket. Then, Benito was shot by Partisans and strung up by his heels in the local square... Now, in 1948, the country is still leaderless, broke, and heading for chaos. Sure, the rich are still rich... If you're not in furs, you're in rags. People are starving and disillusioned, and getting angrier by the day. Meanwhile, the black market is booming: with a fistful of lire, you can get yourself just about whatever you want.
Orson Welles: [Still narrating, as a news photo of an assassinated aristocrat man and wife is shown - both shot in the head] If you still harbor a grudge or two from the war, it's a fine time to lay your mind to rest.

Brewster: [Pete Brewster, Lucky Luciano and Luciano's henchman have driven Welles out to a deserted stretch of dirt road and forced him out of the car] You call yourself an American?
'Lucky' Luciano: Listen - he's just another name on that list. I say we waste him. Let the Reds take the rap.
'Lucky' Luciano: [Luciano's henchman punches and beats Welles, who falls to the ground. Henchman then approaches Welles and points a pistol to his head] You got somethin' to say about that, Mr. Welles? Somethin' smart?
Orson Welles: [Thug, with gun to Welles' head, racks the slide on his pistol] Christ, Pete, stop him! You gotta' stop him!
Brewster: [Coldly indifferent] I don't have to stop him. You heard what he said: you're just a name on a list.
Orson Welles: [Welles, in pain, grunts and groans on the ground]
Brewster: How can we possibly shoot you, when you played such a sterling part for Uncle Sam? You know that "list"... when we first planted it and you made such a big splash with it in the Press - well, it was more than I could have hoped. You know the best part? Originally, you weren't even on the list. You know why?... You're not that important. You were kind of an afterthought.
'Lucky' Luciano: You're not worth the bullet, Mr. Welles.
Brewster: [Welles, still on the ground, glares up at him] Don't judge me! The war never stopped. It just went underground. We simply have to win. Now, it's all about sacrifices, and whether you're tough enough to make them.
Orson Welles: Maybe you made too many, Pete. I remember when you had a soul, not just a job.
Brewster: You're entitled to your opinion.
Orson Welles: It's a free country.
Brewster: [Walking back to the car, leaving Welles lying in the road] Fuck you, Orson.
Orson Welles: Fuck you, Pete.
[Brewster and the others drive off, leaving Welles deserted in the road]

Orson Welles: [Last lines, narrating] And what in the end did I do? I made a crummy picture, and not a lot of difference. It's not as if things would have been any better had the Communists got in. "Same shit," as my friend would say, "different flies." Still, one HELL of a trip... So that just about wraps it up. And when people ask me if all this was true, well, like I say, if you're looking for facts, pick up the history book - just be sure to check who wrote it.

Orson Welles: So tell me...
Tommaso Moreno: The war... the facists brought people here to torture them
Orson Welles: People... only ghosts, only ghosts
Tommaso Moreno: Some of these ghosts, they won't lay down


Cradle Will Rock (1999)
John Houseman: I've always said the play would be better on a bare stage.
Orson Welles: Actually, Hallie said that.
John Houseman: No, I said it first.
Orson Welles: No you didn't.
John Houseman: Yes I did.
Orson Welles: No, you didn't!
John Houseman: Yes, I did!
Orson Welles: No, you DIDN'T!
John Houseman: Yes, I BLOODY WELL DID!
Orson Welles: Oh, *fine*, Jack! You win, you've got the biggest creative dick, okay?
John Houseman: Thank you.

Marc: I am faithful to the ideals of the party.
Orson Welles: I am faithful to the party of ideas.
John Houseman: You are faithful to the idea of a party.

Orson Welles: No one should be afraid of an idea!


"The Critic: Eyes on the Prize (#1.6)" (1994)
Orson Welles: Rosebud...
[fade to color]
Orson Welles: Yes, Rosebud Frozen Peas. Full of country goodness and green pea-ness. Wait, that's terrible. I quit... Just a handful for the road.
[takes a handful of peas and walks away whilst munching loudly]
Orson Welles: [off screen, delighted] Oh, what luck; there's a French fry stuck in my beard!
[munches loudly]

Orson Welles: [advertising Blotto Bros. Wine] A rich, full-bodied wine sensibly priced at a dollar a jug. And for a little magic, I shall make this jug disappear.
[he noisily guzzling the wine out of the jug]


"The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XVII (#18.4)" (2006)
Orson Welles: The devastation is incredible! They're grinding up the bodies of human beings!
Sound Technician: [Uses a wisp to grind up cornflakes]
Orson Welles: Now they're riding horses in the rain!
Sound Technician: [Clacks coconut halves against a wooden board while pouring water into a tray]
Orson Welles: Now they're playing the xylophone while bowling near an airport.
Sound Technician: [Holds up sign reading "Screw you" and leaves]

Chief Wiggum: I 'Ought to punch you in the Nose, Bud!
Orson Welles: [Whispering] Nosebud.


Ed Wood (1994)
Orson Welles: Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?

Edward D. Wood, Jr.: Do you know that I've even had producers re-cut my movies?
Orson Welles: I hate when that happens.
Edward D. Wood, Jr.: And they always want to cast their buddies. It doesn't even matter if they're right for the part.
Orson Welles: Tell me about it. I'm supposed to do a thriller for Universal. They want Charlton Heston as a Mexican.


"The Critic: Frankie and Ellie Get Lost (#2.8)" (1995)
Margo Sherman: It's a sign! They're alive!
Orson Welles: Yes. They're alive, but I have gone to a better place. A place filled with Mrs. Pell's Fish Sticks. Yes! Oh yes! They're even better when you're dead!

Orson Welles: Hello. I'm Orson Welles. What follows is a journey into the world of magic, mystery...
Sherman Family Attorney: Mr. Welles, this is a video will.
Orson Welles: What? Look, I don't need to do this! I've got a fish stick commercial in an hour!
[leaves, and then walks back to his chair albeit reluctantly]
Orson Welles: Oh, what the hell? I need the money.


FourAct Play (2007)
Orson Welles: Why, do you guess, am I here?
Herman J. Mankiewicz: Do you need - advice?
Orson Welles: I need a screenplay.
Herman J. Mankiewicz: What sort of screenplay?
Orson Welles: The best screenplay.


Hollywood Mouth 2 (2014)
Berlyn Ferlinghetti: [referring to Joan Crawford] When she came to Hollywood, Joan was determined to improve herself and she hired tutors from UCLA to come to the studio to instruct her in English and French.
Orson Welles: Who was she going to speak it to, Claudette Colbert?