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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Welles' TV Revolution

Author: humble-2 from Los Angeles, Ca.
21 July 1999

This half-hour film directed by Orson Welles for an anthology tv series was shelved and shown during the summer. I remember watching it. It was a revelation. Welles used stills and stop-motion to tell a very witty take on "The Fountain of Youth." Within a year, commercials were copying its technique. I'd love to see this one again. It impressed me to no end as a teenager, who had just heard of Orson Welles. Of course, the yoo-yoos in charge of the networks didn't give him anything else. The credit for this being made goes to Desi Arnaz, who had the power to get it made, but it was still axed from the intended series. Welles and Arnaz--true visionaries.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Orson Welles Presents

Author: Michael_Cronin from Sydney, Australia
4 September 2006

This minor, virtually unseen entry in Orson Welles' filmography really deserves more exposure. It's a sly little morality play very reminiscent of an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", but done with far more flair & skill.

Mixing a standard 1950's style of TV play with still imagery, blending voice-over with the spoken dialogue & Welles himself addressing the audience, 'The Fountain Of Youth' is years ahead of its time.

The tale itself is the sort of clever short story with a dark twist ending that might have been written by Roald Dahl & published by Playboy, then adapted for TV. It involves a jilted lover taking his revenge on a beautiful couple with a promise of eternal youth that tears them apart.

While it's often interesting to look at early television productions with an objective eye, very few remain anything but vaguely amusing & ultimately dated curiosities. Welles' lyrical, fluid style of direction & editing elevates what might easily have been a clever, but unremarkable, 1950's TV play to something that remains impressive & watchable nearly half a century later.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Ahead of its time

Author: Dennisc666 (
23 February 2004

This is a brilliant half-hour TV Episode that Welles did to prove he could do television. He uses narration, stills, live-action and minimal sets to great advantage... and I see many similarities to later series, such as TWILIGHT ZONE, THRILLER and OUTER LIMITS. Who knows who might have seen this and been influenced by it? I managed to catch it at the American Cinematheque, where they played one of only two prints in existence. Let's hope this makes its way to DVD -- everyone should see it.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

"She could feel and almost hear the remorseful erasures of time."

Author: ackstasis from Australia
13 May 2008

In 1958, the same year that he turned a B-movie thriller into one of film noir's greatest entries, Orson Welles was offered the opportunity to venture into television productions. He really was the perfect candidate for such a position; having kick-started his entertainment career hosting the radio programme "Mercury Theatre on the Air," he had already had much experience presenting classic works of literature in hour-long time-slots, demonstrating a keen capacity for unique and innovative storytelling {his October 30, 1938 broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" is now legendary}. Producer Desi Arnaz basically gave Welles complete creative control, and he decided to adapt "Youth from Vienna," a story by John Collier. A little-known film from Welles, 'The Fountain of Youth (1958)' was originally intended as the pilot for a television series – not unlike "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," I'd imagine – but production was ultimately, and inconceivably, discontinued after the single episode.

Humphrey Baxter (Dan Tobin) is a respected scientist, an expert in the peculiar field of human glands. When the aging researcher falls for young theatre actress Carolyn Coates (Joi Lansing), everybody in New York – even Baxter – is surprised when the beautiful socialite, in turn, falls in love with him. After a three year absence in Vienna, where he has been conducting secret research, Baxter returns to America to find that his woman has abandoned him for a handsome tennis player, Alan Brody (Rick Jason). With extraordinary patience and restraint, the scientist draws together his painstaking plans, to exact cold and damning revenge on the woman who has betrayed him. 'The Fountain of Youth' toys with classic notions of aging and mortality, raising the possibility of prolonged life and emphasising its destructive effects on the human mind. A taut and intelligent psychological drama, the film – aside from being entertaining – leaves you with plenty to ponder.

Many early television shows have a tendency to be horrendously stagnant and monotonous, with actors exchanging unconvincing lines amid a shoddy-looking production set with cardboard walls. However, Welles borrows from his extensive film-making experience to produce a work that is both refreshing and enjoyable. The eccentric editing techniques – cutting sporadically between still frames, live action and Welles' enigmatic narration – are similar to his later work in 'F for Fake (1974),' and help make the story almost compulsively watchable. Like most of Welles' masterworks, many of which failed spectacularly at the box-office, the director's genius was also the cause of his own downfall, for he was consistently ahead of his time, and possessed an artistic vision with which producers and audiences could not identify. Thanks to the short-sighted producers who failed to green-light "The Orson Welles Show," we mortals will never hear the tale of the man-eating tiger orchids… and that's the greatest tragedy of all!

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH (TV) (Orson Welles, 1958) ***1/2

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
19 March 2010

Orson Welles' sole directorial foray into TV-land was filmed for, of all people, Desilu Productions; this episode was to have been the first of a proposed series but it was never actually transmitted and the show was unceremoniously cancelled! Consequently, it has become the rarest of Welles' completed works and I only happened across it via a battered print with occasional combing issues! The modest list of 'dramatis personae' required to tell the tale – of a scientist, with a crush on a much younger blonde "femme fatale", who takes revenge on her and the playboy she deserts him for via the very anti-aging serum he had been away researching – ensures that no established stars were involved in the production (except for rotund character actor Billy {BEDLAM (1946)} House in a supporting role) but Welles himself provides intermittent bemused on-screen narration to flesh out the narrative gaps. Apart from being, on the one hand, an intriguing brush with Sci-Fi on Welles' part, the film is a highly-stylized, experimental piece of work in its own right – with brilliant uses of close-ups, shadowy lighting and even stills to enact the story in the most effective and economical manner possible. Indeed, based exclusively on the evidence here, Welles might well have revolutionized the TV medium (as he had previously done to stage, radio and screen) had he been given more of a chance...

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

probably would have been the greatest television series, ever.

Author: Joseph Harder from warren michigan
8 May 2013

Television has had a few flashes of true genius: My World And Welcome To It, The Ernie Kovacs Show, the first few seasons of The Twilight Zone, The Fabulous Fifties, large chunks of Omnibus,Twin Peaks, the first five seasons of Lost and about half a dozen others. I would submit that I love Lucy was another flash of genius ( at least before it started to parody himself,) because Desi Arnaz was brilliant enough to use multiple cameras. Arnaz- and Lucy- were good friends of Orson Welles. While the Orson Welles guest spot on I love Lucy was one of the shows weaker episodes, Arnaz and Ball decided to produce an idea that Welles had. It would be a Television version of the old "Orson Welles Almanac". It would have combined non fiction vignettes with adaptations of off-beat short stories, dramatic monologues by Orson, and even bits of animation. The pilot was Welles' adaptation of John Colliers The Fountain of Youth,using stills, quick cuts, and daring camera and editing techniques. It was shown, praised ( It won the Peabody Award.)- and forgotten. Despite the fact that bit was a Desilu Production, none of the "suits" in charge of the Networks in those "Dick Danger " days wanted to schedule a "high -brow" television show made by an erratic genius. So, The Orson Welles Kaleidoscope" never made it to Television. This is an absurd universe.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Welles goes to television

Author: theowinthrop from United States
1 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is not true that Orson Welles never received adequate recognition from his peers in the entertainment world. In 1941 he shared the Oscar for best screenplay for Citizen Kane (and in the 1970s got a lifetime achievement award Oscar as well). He was one of the first recipient of the American Movie Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, He actually got the Grand Prix of the Venice Film Festival for 1955 for OTHELLO. But 1958 was a particularly good year for him. He got the Grand Prix of the Brussels World's Fair for his film TOUCH OF EVIL. He got a special award for a recording of his speech against capital punishment from COMPULSION. Finally he won the Peabody Award for his production of this television movie for Desilu Productions. Yeah, he really never got recognition.

Welles had gotten to know Lucille Ball when he started in Hollywood in 1940 - 41 at RKO (where Lucy frequently mead films like STAGEDOOR). He was impressed by her and wanted her for an early project, THE SMILER WITH A KNIFE, which he toyed with as an alternative first project with HEART OF DARKNESS and (eventually) CITIZEN KANE. The friendship seems to have survived, and Welles was one of the Hollywood stars who appeared on I LOVE LUCY, doing his magic act (which Lucy spoils by trying to show her ability as a "Classical actress"). While there he must have been approached by Lucy and Desi Arnaz to do a half- hour production as a potential first episode of an anthology series (with Welles as the host and narrator). The result was THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, which finally was shown in 1958.

Set in the 1920s, THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH is based on a story by John Collier. The hero is a promising endocrinologist played by Dan Tobin, who is supposed to be engaged to a Broadway starlet (Joi Lansing). But he has to study in Vienna for three years with Professor Winkelman. When he returns he discovers that the fickle Lansing dumped him for a handsome tennis star played by Rick Jason. Swallowing his anger Tobin pretends to accept this. When they return from their honeymoon he invites them to his laboratory. He has just announce an amazing aging discovery, and both narcissistic lovers show great interest in this - it turns out that he claims the has a serum that came out of a dead man, and that three people have access to it. One is Winkelman, one is himself, and one is the third tube he presents to Lansing and Jason. They plan to divide it in half, but are told that only drinking the entire vial is effective, so that only one of them can drink it.

The second half of the episode (of course) follows the slow struggles of Lansing and Jason regarding the "fountain of youth" given to them. In truth, of course, it is more of an "apple of discord" that Tobin has maliciously set up to split the couple. As such it works, as both talk themselves into using it "secretly" without telling the other, and refilling the vial with water and bitters or quinine. Only at the end does Tobin inform Lansing of the truth.

Welles was quite clever with various still photos and shadows and other visual tricks in the episode that one rarely saw in television in 1958 (maybe one saw something like it with comedian Ernie Kovaks). He also had an opportunity to direct Tobin and Lansing, not to mention (in a bit part) Nancy Culp and gave Welles a second chance to direct Billy House, his checker playing Mr. Potter from THE STRANGER. The result is entertaining enough, and the issues of aging and how we fear it but cannot really do much to stop it (even now, in 2009, there is little one can do but take care of oneself) remain to perplex us. Welles' series would have been quite a good one, but although he mentioned a story for the following week about a monster green plant no further tales were made. It is our loss.

One final point - the clever use of photography and stills and such for this episode makes one recall the start of Welles' next major film THE TRIAL where he uses a series of pictures to tell a story about a man trying to gain entrance to the palace of justice and failing. One wonders if the experiment in THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH led to Welles considering this matter for THE TRIAL two years later.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Fountain of Youth was a fascinating "What If?" concerning an Orson Welles television anthology series

Author: tavm from Baton Rouge, LA
26 August 2009

Just watched this Orson Welles rarity on YouTube. It was a pilot for a proposed anthology series hosted by Welles in which he narrates with still pictures of the leading characters of a particular episode being displayed before the story proper begins. In this one called "The Fountain of Youth", Scientist Humphrey Baxter (Dan Tobin) falls for a Broadway showgirl named Carolyn Coates (Joi Lansing) but after three years away in Vienna, she takes to someone closer to her own age, a tennis player named Alan Brody (Rick Jason). Not very happy with this turn of events but patient, Humphrey tells the engaged couple of a youth potion that only one of them can take...Quite compelling the way certain parts of the narrative take turns making one wonder how things turn out. I especially loved the way Carolyn looks at the mirror and sees various drawings of how ugly she dreads looking. Certainly could have been as unique a series as Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone" (a show which almost got Welles to host) and the fact that Welles had plugged the following week's "episode" as "Green Thoughts" makes one think of what we could have gotten had this pilot become a series...

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

An exercise in technique and style

Author: chaos-rampant from Greece
7 December 2008

What made Welles such a pivotal figure in the pantheon of the all time great filmmakers was not his pioneering of new techniques but combining different techniques still in their infancy in a pioneering way. That's what made CITIZEN KANE such an instant classic ahead of its time and that's what makes this 30 minute made-for-TV short endlessly watchable. The plot remains entertaining and has a twist that is not wholly unpredictable 50 years later but its the Wellesian bravura that makes the short so remarkable.

Welles, one year after the box office failure but stylistic tour-de-force of TOUCH OF EVIL, combines stills, back projection, on-camera narration provided by himself and some very expressionistic lighting that hides and reveals characters as if they're summoned on stage, and nothing seems forced, silly, or primitive. Welles once more treads new, personal, ground at the same time he perfects it. While, due to the nature of the project, it will never be regarded highly among his other works, The Fountain of Youth is still a must-see for the Welles aficionado.

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An interesting look into what could have been

Author: peefyn from Norway
17 November 2015

These anthology shows, like Alfred Hitchcock presents, Twilight Zone, the Outer Limits, and so on, are always about the stories told, and not so often about how you tell them. Orson Welles' attempt at such a show, shows a heavy involvement from his side into the production. He appears not only in the beginning and end, like Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling, but throughout the episode. He's the narrator that's not only keeping the story together, but literally telling it to you. It's almost like a radio play, in that sense. He experiments by showing photos in some parts of the story, and actual scenes in other. This lets him easily (and perhaps more importantly, cheaply) create a story that takes place in different locations and over a span of time.

But how well does it work? Well enough! Despite all that can be said about style, these are still not better than their stories (and often: twists). The story in this one could just as well has appeared in both Twilight Zone and Hitchcock presents. It's not a bad story, if a bit predictable, but nothing you could imagine Welles making a feature film of or anything in that sense.

I quite enjoyed it, and I'm sure most people will. Perhaps it was just as well Welles did not get to make more of these, or perhaps we lost out on what could have been.

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