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Me and Orson Welles (2008)

 -  Drama  -  4 December 2009 (UK)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 7,826 users   Metascore: 73/100
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A teenager is cast in the Mercury Theatre production of "Julius Caesar" directed by a young Orson Welles in 1937.

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(screenplay), (novel), 1 more credit »
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Title: Me and Orson Welles (2008)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Evelyn Allen
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Walter Ash
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Grover Burgess
Shane James Bordas ...
Conspirator
Alessandro Giuggioli ...
Conspirator
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Conspirator
Rhodri Orders ...
Conspirator
...
Thomas Arnold ...
George Duthie
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Martin Gabel
Simon Nehan ...
Joe Holland
...
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Storyline

In November 1937, high school student and aspiring thespian Richard Samuels takes a day trip into New York City. There, he meets and begins a casual friendship with Gretta Adler, their friendship based on a shared love and goal of a profession in the creative arts. But also on this trip, Richard stumbles across the Mercury Theatre and meets Orson Welles, who, based on an impromptu audition, offers Richard an acting job as Lucius in his modern retelling of Julius Caesar, which includes such stalwart Mercury Theatre players as Joseph Cotten and George Coulouris. Despite others with official roles as producer John Houseman, this production belongs to Welles, the unofficial/official dictator. In other words, whatever Welles wants, the cast and crew better deliver. These requests include everything, even those of a sexual nature. Welles does not believe in conventions and will do whatever he wants, which includes not having a fixed opening date, although the unofficial opening date is in ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

All's fair in love and theater

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual references and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

4 December 2009 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Ego ki o Orson Welles  »

Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£166,389 (UK) (4 December 2009)

Gross:

$1,186,957 (USA) (19 February 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While the way in which the film shows a sprinkler system being triggered may not be accurate, the incident shown really did occur, and was indeed set off by the Zac Efron character of the Mercury actor who was playing Lucius at the time, Arthur Anderson. Orson Welles himself described the sprinkler incident during the closing credits of the Mercury Theatre radio broadcast of "Treasure Island" the following year, on July 18, 1938:

"First of all, I'd like you to meet [the actor who played] Jim Hawkins, Junior, our leading man at 14 years old. Last season he made a really startling contribution to the stage history of Shakespeare's plays. This was during the course of some experiments with the Mercury Theatre sprinkler system. As a consequence of what must certainly have been extensive research in that field, he caused it to rain, actually to rain, and copiously to rain where in more than 300 years it has never rained in 'Julius Caesar' before. It rained on Brutus, it rained all over Brutus in the forum. I was Brutus, and I ought to know."

"Now, as dramatic criticism, I found this telling, and even final. But as a surprise item in the funeral scene, I can assure you that the unexpected appearance on the stage of so many gallons of real water created in us all, an impression that was almost overwhelming. Our popular leading man says that he did it all with a match. I don't dare think what he'll do when he's old enough to run for president, but meanwhile, no matter what happens to the plumbing, he can always work for the Mercury. As you've probably discovered, he's something more than a very gifted performer, and as I told you, he's something less than 15."

"His name shall not be withheld: I refer to that fine old actor Arthur Anderson." (Actor George Coulouris was credited as "having escaped 'Rainmaker' Anderson" during that incident.)

At the very end of the broadcast credits, a faint crash is heard in the background, and Welles ad libs, "There is at this moment a disturbance in the control room, and if it isn't a tumbrel, it's Arthur Anderson. It's a good thing the program's over." See more »

Goofs

The dressing robe Sonja tosses Richard changes position on the couch throughout the scene. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. Mewling: By the year of 1592, Shakespeare was already an actor, and a playwright. Records of how his stage career began have not survived. We do know that in 1594 he joined a theater troupe. Called... anyone remember? Not everyone at once now. The Lord Chamberlain's Men.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Gilson Lavis is listed as "Drumer" instead of "Drummer". See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.16 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Great portrayal of Welles in a charming film
6 September 2008 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Considering the fanatic cult following that Richard Linklater has developed with films like Waking Life, Before Sunrise/Sunset, and A Scanner Darkly, let me preface this review by saying that I'm not a Linklater devotee. If Linklater is endowed with a species of genius, I must confess complete ignorance to it. Indeed, my favorite Linklater film was School of Rock, and he has always impressed me more by the breadth of his work and his willingness to challenge the conventions of film than by any individual film. It's perhaps this maverick spirit that drew him to do a film about Orson Welles.

Me and Orson Welles, based on a novel by Robert Kaplow, tells the story of a teenager, Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), who is swept from learning about Shakespeare in the classroom to the fast paced world of the Mercury Theater on Broadway when he lands a role in Orson Welles famous 1937 production of Caesar. As Orson Welles struggles to get the production ready for the premier, Richard falls for the theater's resident hottie, a charming and ambitious aspiring actress played by Claire Daines, and finds himself growing up quickly to the realities of show business and the real world.

The movie is entirely carried by it's acting, and the actor generating the most buzz is the British born Christian McKay who plays Welles. I'm very uneasy about praising portrayals of real life figures, because it seems any time an actor plays any historical figure (from Gandhi to Capote and Idi Amin) they receive excessive attention. I think it has less to do with the "acting" involved than it has to do with the fact that most audiences feel much more comfortable passing judgment (and bestowing praise) on mimicry than actual acting. That said, McKay does a masterful job in capturing that mythical image of a young Orson Welles that all of us film geeks have in our head, from the striking resemblance in appearance to the pitch perfect intonations in his voice. Welles is charming and maddening, endearing and brutal, and always larger than life... and McKay captures it all perfectly. It's clearly a role that McKay has been mastering for a long time, as he was doing a one-man-show about Welles on Broadway before being snatched for the role in Me and Orson Welles. From the Q&A session (at the Toronto international film festival), McKay seemed intelligent and passionate about his work, and I truly hope he doesn't get pigeon-holed into spoofing Welles for his entire career.

Unfortunately the other acting foot that the movie stands on, isn't nearly as good. Zac Efron is just so pretty (and I say this as a heterosexual male) that it becomes distracting. Watching Efron act, it feels like he's trying to make women orgasm in every scene he's in, which works well in enough in the many scenes he's trying to court Claire Daines's character, but doesn't work in any other scene. Efron's acting makes it hard for the audience to emotionally connect and prevents the movie from achieving the emotional punch it might otherwise. The audience is never drawn in and they remain spectators, which, fortunately, isn't such a bad thing since the movie is so fun and nostalgically charming. Perhaps even the flighty and ethereal feeling the film gets because of it's lack of punch can be forgiven, since it's a movie about youth and growing up and so much of that involves tempestuous passions that end up being quite meaningless in retrospect.

8/10


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The titles grammatically incorrect tentonpenguin
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