A famed, and infamous, movie director, JJ Hannaford, dies in a car accident. He was about to release his latest movie and a documentary camera crew had been following him around in the days preceding his death. We see the events leading up to his death, the careers Hannaford destroyed, the enemies he made and his last film, The Other Side of the Wind.Written by
The character of Charles Higgam is a parody of the Anglo-Australian journalist Charles Higham, who wrote two defamatory books about Orson Welles (one of which complained about this parody). People connected with this film have also hinted that the character of Juliet Rich is an unflattering depiction of film critic Pauline Kael. See more »
In one confrontational scene, Brooks Otterlake, who Gregory Sierra's character, Jack Simon, refers to as, "Kid", is simultaneously Peter Bogdanovich and Rich Little. This is small overlap is because Rich Little was originally cast as the black turtleneck wearing, voice imitating director, Brooks Otterlake. However Bogdanovich replaced him, and Little's part was reduced to that of a Party Guest. See more »
That's the car, what was left of it after the accident. If it was an accident.
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Written and performed by Jaki Byard
Published by Prestige Music
Courtesy of Concord Music Group, Inc. See more »
Orson Welles' Eyes Wide Shut
If you became a major fan of Welles' work, you know all about the aborted projects. Don Quixote, The Deep (later made by a different director as Dead Calm), and The Other Side of the Wind. Well, Don Quixote started and stopped so many times until Francisco Reiguera and Akim Tamiroff passed away, The Deep allegedly was completely done except for the filming of an explosion, and The Other Side of The Wind allegedly had footage financed by the Shah of Iran and that footage was caught up in the political turmoil in '79. I've read all about these sorts of things over 20 years ago. Now we have Welles' Eyes Wide Shut. A movie like Kubrick's last movie, released after the director's death with some aspects of it incomplete. Maybe the film would have ended up differently than what the compilers of this footage came up with or what a studio may've settled on without the director's input, maybe not. I know neither movie is considered Welles' or Kubrick's best work.
The movie centers around a director who is a Nicholas Ray type. More of a product of the 1950s. Someone who partied as hard as the stars half his age while he was middle aged. I'm sure his alpha male abusive antics are a major turn off to anyone watching this who didn't make that connection.
I already knew how the film was supposed to look so it didn't bother me how cut up it looks. It is supposed to look like that because the story is supposed to unfold through the cameras of filmmakers filming the director for their own documentaries. Seems like alot of filmmakers. This was always Welles' vision for the film. Initially, I thought this movie was going to be all documentary style footage of the director on set shooting a film starring a leading man he was deeply jealous of and eventually would murder but it isn't like that. Frankly this is better.
The film centers around the director's 70th birthday party. It is explained in a new audio introduction to be Hannaford's last day of his life before driving off to his death in an auto accident. The jumping from conversation snippets, different characters speaking, black and white to color film, is all part of the vision. All the jumping around can be dizzying like the first time I saw Mr Arkardin. It moves quickly in that sense.
The movie bounces from the documentary footage of the party to screening footage of the film Hannaford is working on at the time. That too must be planned but it is also difficult to keep up with. The film Hannaford is working on comes across as an unfinished stag film. The footage he shot and the director's actions throughout makes me wonder if he was impotent and if that was an underlying factor behind everything he does at his party. There is no dialogue in the film footage. Numerous sex scenes are implied. There is an often nude nameless actress played by Oja Kudor and equally nude as often John Dale played by Robert Random. The film footage made me think of Highway An American Pastoral starring Jim Morrison sans the sex scenes.
I am glad I watched this. It is about what I expected. It is better than half the Welles' films Ive seen. At least it is different in that it is the only one with an R rating, It took over 30 years after Welles' death for it to see the light of day and unlike in his life, the people releasing this film wanted to follow his vision.
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