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Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (1995)

Orson Welles' archives of unfinished/never released movies and the last years of his life from the perspective of Oja Kodar (life and artistic partner Of Orson Welles in his last years). ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Herself (segment "Salute to Orson Welles") (archive footage)
Tim Brooke-Taylor ...
Algy in 'Stately Homes' segment, Presenter in 'One-Man Band' segment
(segment "The deep") (archive footage)
Interviewer in 'Stately Homes' segment (voice)
(segment "Taylor's shop" / segment "The merchant of Venice") (archive footage)
(segment "The deep") (archive footage)
François Marthouret ...
Narrator (french version) / Récitant (voice)
(segment "The Deep") (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


Orson Welles' archives of unfinished/never released movies and the last years of his life from the perspective of Oja Kodar (life and artistic partner Of Orson Welles in his last years). She discovers with the viewer many of the projects that Orson never completed or short movies that he never released : The Magic Show, Swinging London (and its segment the one man band that gives its title to the documentary), Vienna, The Merchant of Venice, Moby Dick, The Deep, The other Side of the Wind, The Dreamers. Oja returns to Orson's abandoned house in Orvilliers (France) where she discovers more of his writings during the preparation of the Moby Dick project. Despite the destruction of squatters, Orson's work still remains after all these years; despite the discouragement of Hollywood producers and of financial problems, the talent of Welles still remains clearly visible in this unfinished movies. Written by Cyril Aubaud (cyril_aubaud@yahoo.fr)

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Release Date:

8 October 1995 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Orson Welles - l'homme orchestre  »

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This documentary is featured on the 2-Disc Criterion Collection DVD for _Vérités et mensonges (1976)_, released in 2005. See more »


Features Orson Welles' Magic Show (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

another good reason to pick up the new F for Fake DVD...
29 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Orson Welles fans, this may be the best you'll get in terms of 'lock-box' finished films from the prolific, perpetually f***ed over father of maverick-style cinema (i.e. few films made in Hollywood, with Europe his only safe place for his very independent ways as an actor/writer/director/producer/editor). Like an author who's smaller, in-the-vault kinds of works put together by an editor into one compilation, One Man Band, like the documentary It's All True, is a sort of collector's item in and of itself. Along with giving the fullest possible glimpses (as far as we Welles fans know) of the films as part of Welles's un-official scrapbook, there are some revelatory insights from his longtime companion Oja Kodar, and clips from a public interview in an auditorium (a very funny one) that shines some light on a couple of issues. The director here is the editor, assembling the pieces at times in the essay style of F for Fake (and this film is now included with it on the brilliantly packaged Criterion DVD), though not as frantic in style and purpose.

Here we get something very special, in spurts, and even when the interest is a little more low-key than expected (though fun, the novelty isn't exceptional of Welles reading excerpts from Moby Dick and The Merchant of Venice), one can't look away. The best parts include the intact scenes from the Deep, London, the filmed excerpts of Merchant of Venice, the little moments of Welles's odd, hilarious imitations, and the one that still could be completed, the Other Side of the Wind. That last film is maybe the most fascinating film of the lot, as it goes even further with montage and experimental style than F for Fake. It's wild, it's rambling, and I could only get an idea of what was going on, but that's all I could've asked for anyway. The veneer of Welles's personality, as well, is stripped a bit away through Kodar's insights, how he was more of a modest man than the overwhelming, megalomaniac personality people made him out to be. At the end of the day he was, as the film makes clear without a shadow of doubt, one of the true poets of 20th century cinema, and like other controversial artists his major works were practically all censored, while the minor works barely left his traveling-alongside film cans.

To see a filmmaker at work, at least in retrospective, can be many things, from dull, to over-indulgent, to really passing all of that and showing a man at work. While there isn't footage of Welles at work on a set like with Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movie or A.K., the footage here compensates for that. One can see through the little bits of film done, the ones that showed his determination to keep rolling along instead of getting stuck in the past, that it isn't too much of a surprise that he got a little sick of people tipping the hat to Citizen Kane and nothing else he did in his career. His story is one of the tragedies of the artist's world, though it's good to know that he never got too depressed to not quit at the magic and voices. It's a real treat.

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