Orson Welles


  1. Eugene Pallette, The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1937.    Head Brother Jack Warner offered Friar Tuck to Welles.

  2. Ian Hunter, The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1937.or King Richard the Lion-Heart. Not often a simple friar is more important than a sovereign…. Orson wasn’t interested in either role.  Nor even both!  Errol Flynn was Robin. Of course.

  3. Charles Laughton, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1938.      Director William Dieterle’s and only titular choice was Laughton.  However, he was trying to set up a  Cyrano De Bergerac at MGM.  Before that dream collapsed  and he signed on as  Quasimodo, RKO looked at the obvious (Lugosi or Lon Chaney Jr) and  the intriguing Robert Morley, Claude Rains… even Orson.
  4. Tim Holt, The Magnificent Ambersons, 1941.       To follow Citizen Kane, Welles planed to direct – and play the cruel, malicious son George – in the Amberson saga. He then gave Citizen Amberson to the more handsome Holt, stuck to directing. And messed up. After such classics as Stageoach, My Darling Clementine and The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Holt starred in an RKO series of sagebrush B-quickies with comic Cliff Edwards. And still more, as himself, opposite Richard Martin.

  5. Monty Woolley, The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1941.    
    When the comedy tickled director Howard Hawks’ fancy, he wanted Cary Grant as the titular critic Sheridan Whiteside However, public  insisted that  only Woolley could and should play his famous stage role. Orson Welles wanted to direct and play Whiteside. (And he did so in a 1972 TVersion). Bette Davis wanted John Barrymore, but he could no longer remember his lines. Tests of Robert Benchley and Laird Cregar were respectively deemed too mild-mannered and overblown and extravagant,” byproducer Hal Wallis. (Probably why Charles Coburn refused to test at all). Director William Keighley also saw Charles Laughton (he made two terrible tests) and  Fredric March. And Grant was still around far too young and attractive, said Wallis.  Anyway, acerbic or no, causing havoc or not, who’d be upset if Cary Grant suddenly came to dinner?

  6. Cedric Hardwicke, The Moon Is Down, 1942.       All the major studios fought for John Steinbeck’s praised/vilified novel/play about the Nazi occupation of Norway. (It was, in fact, superb propaganda for anti-Nazi resistance). Fox chief Darryl F Zanuck won because of how because of how he made Steinbeck’s previous book, The Grapes of Wrath. (The then highest price of $300,000 helped, too). There were eight possibilities for Colonel Lanser were: Fritz Kortner, Charles Laughton, Paul Lukas, Broadway’s Alfred Lunt, Otto Preminger, George Sanders, Conrad Veidt… and Orson Welles. Unbelievably, he was upset by Steinbeck portraying Lanser as a reasonable, understanding figure. The King of Norway, exiled in London, corrected him. “It teaches people that the Nazis are not supermen – just ordinary people. As a result, [their] cruelties are doubly bad.” In 1946, Steinbeck was given the Haakon VII Cross by the king for his novel’s contribution to the Norwegian war effort. So there, Orson!
  7. Henry Fonda, The Ow-Bow Incident, 1943.       The sole Western ever contemplated by Orson. He nearly made it as his second actor-director project before falling for The Magnificent Ambersons and leaving Ow-Bow to Wild Bill Wellman.
  8. Bobby Watson, The Hitler Gang, 1943.  Rains, Alexander Knox (US President Woodrow Wilson in 1945) and even Orson Welles were bizarre ideas for the Führer in one of eight Hitler-titled US movies during WWII. This was Paramount’s offering, a “documentary-propaganda” justly shot down by New York Times  critic Bosley Crowther for being “cut very much to the pattern of some of our early and better gangster films” which meant “that the grave responsibility of the German citizens for what they have allowed has been neatly tossed onto the shoulders of a few ruffians, Army offi
  9. Gregory Peck, The Keys of the Kingdom, 1944.     Peck’s breakthrough… Producer David O Selznick gave up and sold the AJ Cronin novel to Fox when he could not find the perfect Father Francis Chisholm.. Contenders included Welles, Dana Andrews, Joseph Cotten, Maurice Evans, Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Dean Jagger, Gene Kelly, Franchot Tone, Spencer Tracy… plus the most unlikeiest Catholic missionaries of all: Alan Ladd and Edward G Robinson! Auteur Joseph L Mankiewicz finally signed Peck in July 1943 for his second film – and first Oscar nomination. 
  10. Rex Harrison, Anna and the King of Siam, 1946.    Welles didn’t want to be the king and have to act opposite Irene Dunne – “for several reasons, none of them personal.” He recommended Alfred Lunt or a new young English actor. “And that was the beginning of Rex Harrison’s American career.”

  11. Claude Rains, The Unsuspected, 1947.     Director Michael Curtiz decided to change… “This is the United Motor Company presenting The Hour of Mystery!  Starring your genial host renowned writer, art collector and teller of strange tales, Victor Grandison.”  A radio mystery host-writer-producer – committing, he thinks, the perfect murder and re-enacting it on-air.
  12. Charles Chaplin, Monsieur Verdoux, 1947.      Earlier in the 40s, Orson was much taken with playing the French serial wife-killer, Landru.  Feeling Chaplin would be better, Welles wrote him a script: The Ladykiller. Chaplin didn’t relish the idea of being directed by someone other than himself. Orson sold him the property (he kept one gag), hence the credit line: “Based on an idea suggested by Orson Welles.”

  13. William Bendix, The Babe Ruth Story, 1948.  
    The laugh-by-laugh, tear-by-tear, cheer-by-cheer story of America’s most beloved guy…” When it came to biopic the famed baseball star (22 Major League Baseball seasons with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees), George Herman Ruth (1895 -1948) was too ill to play himself.  Rather than risk a newcomer, producer-director Roy Del Ruth checked real – and fat actors. From Jack Carson, Paul Douglas and Dennis Morgan to…  Orson Welles!!! Can’t imagine Welles hitting home runs – where would he put his cigar?) Babe however, also aka The Bambino and The Sultan of Swat, chose Bendix. He owed him!  As a kid in the 20s, Bendix was a Yankee Stadium bat boy and got   what The Babe wanted before one game – 15 hot dogs and sodas. Naturally, he was then in no condition to play ball. The Yankees lost. And Bendix was fired!  (Ruth died 21 days after attending the July 26th, 1948 premiere). Bendix didn’t resemble him until wearing a new nose.  How Welles would have loved that

  14. Trevor Howard, The Third Man, 1949.    Carol Reed’s first idea. graham Greene  based the character of Harry Lime on his boss in theBritish Secret Intelligence Service, Kim Philby – eventually unmasked as a double-agent for Russia.
  15. José Ferrer, Cyrano De Bergerac, 1950.      “I lost about nine months on that project. That’s why I left America.” All was going well until producer Alexander Korda said: “My dear Orson, don’t you really think that man with the nose is rather a bore?” So he sold it to Columbia – and Ferrer got the Oscar.  Welles wanted… the nose…  “Orson has always been ashamed of his little, tipped-up, baby nose, ” said Dick Cavett, quoting Marlene Dietrich, in the New   York Times, January 21, 2012.    “Like Larry Olivier, he has a different nose in every movie ”
  16. Peter Ustinov, Quo Vadis, 1950.   Took Hollywood 26 years to film Henryk Sienkiewicz’s 1895 epic novel about ancient Rome. MGM won the rights in 1925, with  Wallace Beery in mind for Nero in 1935. Amid the 1942  promise of  “176 speaking parts and 30,000 extras,”, the choice was between  Welles and Broadway star Alfred Lunt.  By 1943, it was Charles Laughton, the Nero of Paramount’s 1932 Sign of the Cross…  Ustinov was Oscar-nominated in 1951.
  17. Robert Newton, Les Miserables, 1951.   First James Mason, then Welles passed on the French cop, Javert, for much the same reason as Anthony Hopkins in 1997. “Javert is just too unrelenting,” Hopkins told me in Paris. Mason’s quarry, Jean Valjean, would have been Jeff Chandler, before becoming Michael Rennie opposite fellow Brit Newton.   Eight years later, Rennie took over Welles’ second most famous character, Harry Lime, in a TV series based on The Third Man, 1959-1965.   Other Javerts have included Bernard Blier, Antoni Bravo, Russell Crowe, Philippe Khorsand, John Malkovich, Anthony Perkins, Geoffrey Rush, Charles Vanel… and an absurd looking Charles Laughton in 1935.
  18. Pierre Brasseur, Barbe-Bleue, France, 1951.    According to Michel Simon, who also refused.
  19. Broderick Crawford, Scandal Sheet,1951.      Or The Dark Pagewhen Sam Fuller wrote his first novel – headed towards Broderick Crawford with William Holden or John Payne – before Howard Hawks paid $15,000 for it. After completing  Red River, 1946, The Silver Fox planned the Fuller thriller  (reporter investigates his editor’s crime) for Cary Grant and Edward G Robinson.  Or, Cary and Humphrey Bogart!!! Or,  Dennis O’Keefe and Welles. Hawks  dropped it. Phil Karlson picked it up to reunite the 1949 stars of All The King’s Men, John Derek and Broderick Crawford.
  20. Louis Calhern, Julius Caesar, 1952.   Welles wanted Richard Burton for Brutus in a Caesar financed by Egypt’s profligate King Farouk, no less. And, hopefully, said Welles, MGM. But no, Metro was chasing Burton as Marc Antony… Indeed, legend insists that Marlon Brando only got the gig (his one  and only Shakespeare role) because Burton couldn’t accept it, being tied, contractually, to London’s Old Vic theatre.

  21. Charles Laughton, Salome, 1953.    For producer Alexander Korda, Welles intended to played both Oscar Wilde and King Herod opposite Vivien Leigh in the title role – that eventually went to Orson’s ex-wife, Rita Hayworth
  22. Anthony Quayle, Oh…Rosalinda!!, 1955.       Sure, said Orson, he’d be the Russian General Orlovsky. “Can I havethe money now.  I’ll give you three days for £30,000 on three days’ notice.” And that was the last they saw of him. Director Mirope that he had to visit, as Powell put it, like a doctor with ”a shot inthe arm, or the ass.
  23. Ralph Richardson, Richard III, 1955.  Sir Laurence Olivier only made Hamlet and Richard III because Orson Welles had beaten him to Macbeth and Othello. No hard feelings…  So he invited Orson to become  the Duke of Buckingham. Trouble was, Olivier’s long-time friend, Sir Ralph Richardson rather fancied the old duke for himself.  And against his better instincts, Olivier gave his old friend  the role. And always regretted it.  “Orson would have brought an extra element to the screen, an intelligence that would have gone well with the plot element of conspiracy.”
  24. Wendell Corey,  The Killer Is Loose, 1955.   Director  Budd Boetticher sure loved Citizen Kane…  He tried to get Welles for the vengeful bank robber Foggy Poole – and settled for Cotton as Poole’s target Detective Sam Wagner.
  25. Henry Fonda, War and Peace, 1955.      Welles’ first “non-picture” (there were many) with producer Alexander Korda. Orson helming his script, with Robert Donat, Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, etc, on Russian locations with the entire Red Army for the retreat from Moscow.“The Cold War killed us off.”
  26. David Niven, Around The World In 80 Days, 1955.      German playwright (and scenarist) Bertold Brecht told Welles that his 80 Days stage production was the greatest US theatre he’d ever seen. Producer Alexander Korda planned a movie version with him. Welles even shot some second-unit material in North Africa before “once again”Korda sold his script to… Mike Todd, the producer of the stage version without any money which is how Welles lost all his and was not even offered one of the 43 star cameos.
  27. Burt Lancaster. Sweet Smell of Success, 1956.         A great idea for the powerful newspaper columnist, JJ Hunsecker – based on Walter Winchell, the megalomaniac New York gossip columnist who got too big for his by-line. Various studios backed off for fear of upsetting him. Burt Lancaster’s combine did not. He thought of Frank Sinatra, then Welles for JJ, before his own superb portrayal of Winchell’s psychological cruelty did for Winchell, what he had done for so many celebrities and “Commies” – it destroyed him.
  28. Alec Guinness, The  Bridge On The River  Kwai, 1956.      Welles was good chums with producer Sam Spiegel since he produced (and drastically cut)  The Stranger  in 1945 – when billed as SP Eagle. One reason why  Welles called jit “my worst film.” (The other reason was… Welles). At least they remained  friendly  until  Sam refused to let Orson star in or direct River Kwai.  (Not even to play  the bridge, adeed Hollywood wags!) “I don’t think this part is right  for me.”  He  was too obese to pass for a  prisoner  in a Japanese POW  camp.  “But I’ll be glad to direct it.” 
  29. Lee J Cobb, The Three Faces of Eve, 1957.           He read it andtold scenarist-director Nunnally Johnson that whoever was Eve would win the Oscar (Joanne Woodward did just that).However, he passed on Dr Luther…to make Touch of Evil.

  30. Spencer Tracy, The Last Hurrah, 1958.
    The name is Bond. Ward Bond. And he is the reason why Welles never played Frank Skeffington for John Ford…   Welles refused when Ford’s ultra right wing blowhard  pal publicly questioned Welles’ loyalty to the US. Ford was almost as furious as Welles. The two directors were not friends but fans of each other’s work.  By 1992, Welles was more polite when he told biographer Peter Bogdanovich that Welles’ agent passed for him while he was out of town.. as the money  and/or billing was not good enough. Earlier  Ford had  flirted with Cagney long enough to arouse Tracy’s interest in the old Irish politico –  and the longest death scene in screen history. First, the ex-pals had to meet up anew.  (Ford had first brought Tracy to Hollywood for Up The River, 1930. The last meet was in 1936!)  In  a fit of typical pique , Ford turned to Welles when the Hurrah schedule clashed with Tracy’s Old Man And The Sea.  Katharine Hepburn acted as agent and peace-maker. Welles  was less than  gracious about Tracy, having  trouble  trying to think of a great Tracy performance.  “He was gigantic in Judgment at Nuremberg, although it is not a great picture,” the embitteed icon told his friend, director Henry Jaglom. “But I couldn’t stand those romantic Katharine Hepburn things.  He was just a hateful, hateful man.”

  31. Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone, TV, 1959-1964.     CBS obviously wanted Welles as the host-narrator to intone lines like “The place is here. The time is now. And the journey into the shadows that we’re about to watch could be our journey…” Once again,his agent wanted too much money. Welles claimed he hated TV as much as peanuts.  “But I can’t stop eating peanuts.”
  32. Grégoire Aslan, King of Kings, 1960. Titles, directors and actors changed what was Son of Man or The Sword and the Cross in 1952.  Producer Samuel; Bronston hated the script. Pope John XXIII  approved it. Without knowing that scenarist Philip Yordan  saw Jesus as a cowboy… “Christ was a loner. He’s not much different than my usual character. The Western character. It’s the same character. The man alone.”  And, indeed, Jeffrey Hunter chosen for Jesus, had made 16 Westerns,  including two for the guy who recommended him. John Ford.  For awhile, Welles was Herod. (Of course).   Then, he was just the narrator.  Good money. No credit.
  33. Herbert Lom, Spartacus, 1960.   Back from the blacklist, scenarist Dalton Trumbo created the pirate Tigranes Levantus with Orson in mind.
  34. Herbert Lom, El Cid, 1961.    The titular Charlton Heston always tried to get him roles… Alas, Orson’s previous job for the same producer, Samuerl Btonston – narrating King of Kings, in 1959 –  had given  Welles  a  totally looney notion… Get someone else to actually play the part  on-camera and then I’ll  come in and dub my superb Wellesian performance for you.  That, said Orson, is the deal.  And that, said Bronston, is the door.
  35. Fred Surin, Vie privée (UK/US: A Very Private Affair), France-Italy, 1961.      Wanted: a notable director to be seen working on Heinrich von Kleist’s CatherineHeilbronn at the Spoleto Festival inthe over-arty counterpoint to the final third of the Brigitte Bardot vehicle. (Big switch from the original idea of updating Noel Coward’s Private Lives). Realisateur Louis Malle invited Welles but as he’d also been asked to act in one of the Spoletoplays, Orson was muddled by thetwo letters. “Now they want me to direct one?”His place was taken by the film’s production director… while Malle was equally muddled over a fan letter from Welles, admiring his films and wanting to work with him! (Malle directed an opera at the 1964 Spoleto festival).
  36. Michael Lonsdale, The Trial, 1962.    He was already writer-directing sohe “really didn’t want to be in the film.”Except nobody but Welle could be The Advocate, so hepassed his priest cameo to Lonsdale.
  37. Andrew Duggan, The Chapman Report, 1962.   The LA Times reported Welles was first choice for the Kinseyesque sex-researcher Dr George C Chapman. Choosing Duggan instead was akin to Chetah playing Tarzan.
  38. Gert Fröbe, Goldfinger, 1964.
  39. Jason Robards, The St Valentine’s Day Massacre 1966.      Same old song…  Undirectable, that’s what you are!  Such was the message from the Fox hierarchy  when director Roger Corman, in the big time for once, suggested  Orson for Mafia mobster Al Capone.  And so,  Jason Robards Jr became, laughably,  the  thinnest Capone in Hollywood history.
  40. Maurice Evans, Planet of the Apes, 1967.

  41. Massimo Girotto,Teorema (Theorem), Italy, 1968.    “A religious story,” said Italian auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini. “A God – handsome, young, fascinating, blue eyes -moves into a bourgeois family. And he loves everyone from the father, who is Orson Wellesto the servant who is Laura Betti…” Except Welles wouldn’t play..  Lee Van Cleef also passed on the classic.  Welles  had earlier played The Director in PPP’s sketch in RoGoPG, 1962.
  42. Robert Morley, The Story of Joseph and his Brothers,1969.      Discovering he was not getting the lead opposite his wife in 1955, Rita Hayworth’s fourth and penultimate husband, crooner Dick Haymes,ruled out any suggestion that Orson, her second husband should be Potiphar. “She wouldn’t even consider it,” said Haymes (trying to be be Joseph, himself). Rita fled the film – and Haymes.
  43. Jason Robards,   Julius Caesar, 1970.
    “Brutus was a part he had played with distinction more than once,” noted Charlton Heston.   Sir John
    Gielgud said abruptly…   ‘Oh, but he’s much too fat…’ He was, I expect, but he could have acted it beautifully.”   Better than Robards who, Heston felt,  had no sense of language. Or. not Shakespeare’s, anyway.  Hencepossibly the worst performance by a really good actor in movie history.” Heston was Mark Antony for the second of three  times – even though one 1992 video box, released by  Front Row Entertainment, said: “Charlton Heston stars as Julius Caesar–General, Statesman and Historian of Ancient Rome.”

  44. James Gregory, Beneath The Planet of the Apes, 1970.        The mask, more than the suit put Welles off playing gorilla General Ursus.“You can’t act witha mask,”he thundered.”“Actors used masks in ancient Greece,” countered director Ted Post.   “Ah,” said Welles, “but can you name any of them?”If he had been directing, he would have used another actor – and simply dubbed him.
  45. James Wheaton, THX 1138, 1971.      Warner Bros wanted Welles as the voice of OMM. The cocky (or scared)fledgling movie-maker George Lucas insisted on a relatively unknown stage actor.Wheaton made six films onlyin 31 years. Lucas learned his lesson and six years later, he asked Welles (before James Earl Jones)to voice Darth Vader in Star Wars.
  46. Topol, Fiddler on the Roof, 1971.     When word got out that  that producer Walter Mirisch and director Norman Jewison didn’t want   Broadway’s  Zero Mostel – “too big for film!” – Danny Kaye expressed great interest in  becoming Tevye. So did such possibles as Herschel Bernardi (once blacklisted like Mostel and his  successor in the Broadway show),  Walter Matthau, Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, Danny Thomas. Plus such downright impossibles as Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Orson Welles (no roof was strong enough) and… and    Frank Sinatra… If I Were A Rich Man Dooby Dooby Doo!  None got to first base once Chaim Topol ended  his run of the West End  production; he’d  lost the Broadway role when called up for Israeli army duty during  and after the Six Day War. He was replaced by the excessively larger-than-life Mostel who remained  bitter .about losing the film.  So did his son. When offered the Delta House series in 1979, Josh Mostel rasped: ”Tell them to ask Topol’s son if he wants the job!”
  47. Richard Kiley, The Little Prince, 1974.       Naturally, Welles was first (in 1943) to acquire the rights to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s French classic…. to direct, narrate and play the pilot. With animation for the space travel.Stanley Donen helmed it 30 years later. To no great worth.
  48. Nehemiah Persoff,  Voyage of the Damned, 1976.      “When you see me in a bad movie as an actor (I hope not as a director), it is because a good movie has not been offered to me. I often make bad films in order to live.”Not this time.
  49. Charles Gray, The Seven Per Cent Solution,  1975.  Considering Nicholas Meyer’s script of his novel featured not only Sherlock Holmes and, therefore, Dr Watson but Sigmnud Freud as well, Welles was doubtless rather piqued to be offered the less than vital role of Sherlock’s brother, whatever his name was,. Ah yes, Mycroft! Charles Gray, too, was used to better characters. He was, for example, among the many Blofelds in the James Bond franchise.
  50. Brian Keith, Nickelodeon, 1976.  

  51. “Well,” growled Welles, “that’s the end of my career in Hollywood.”  Director and co-writer Peter Bogdanovich felt much the same, when unable to win Welles his usual salary or to make the movie (based on Cecil B DeMille’s early years) in black-white. When Bogdanovich resurrected the project, all critics agreed that Keith had the best part: HH Cobb, chief of Kinegraph Studios of… Chicago.

  52. Peter Sellers, Murder By Death, 1976.     Unavailable for Inspector Sidney Wang. Poor Sellers sniffed disaster and sold his profit points back to the producers… of what proved a hit. In 1967, Sellers refused to share any of their scenes with Welles during Casino Royale.
  53. Alec Guinness, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.
  54. James Earl Jones, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.
  55. Burt Lancaster, Novocento/1900, Italy, 1977.       Not happy with the way director Bernardo Bertolucci had dialogue re-written the night before shooting. Orsonpreferred re-writing after shooting -simply dubbing inthe changes. (Trouble was, you could alwaystell…)

  56. Charles Durning, Tilt, 1978.
    He was my idol,” said Rudy Durand,ex-sports promoter and music producer and now, finally,  directing his first movie…       “I paid a guy $100 just…  to get the script to him.  Welles called it the finest screenplay he’dread. He talked on the Carson show about… ‘the only script I’ve read in a long time where everycharacterhas a redeeming quality.’ And the phone started ringing. He told me I was the only one to direct it as I’d lived it for so long.” However, “for several reasons,” he passed the role of a bookie called The Whale… to Spermwhale from The Choirboys

  57. Ricardo Montalban, Fantasy Island, TV, 1978-1984.     The ABC network (but not producer Aaron Spelling) wanted Welles as  the island’s host, Mr Roarke.  “No, never met Orson Welles,” said director William Friedkin.   “And I’m glad I didn’t.   Because I heard he was a miserable son-of-a-bitch.”
  58. Broderick Crawford, Harlequin, Australia, 1980.    “We wanted a tough, old, fat, cigar-smoking American with a strong screen personality,” saidthe Aussie director Simon Wincer. “But he wanted $80,000 a week for two weeks and we couldn’t afford it.God knows how we would have worked with him. [Director]Mike Nichols had his problems [on Catch 22, 1970], so I’d hate to think what might have happened.”
  59. Burl Ives, White Dog, 1981.     Producer Jon Davison loved the idea.Maverick auteur Samuel Fuller wanted Welles as the racist training the titualr dog to attack blacks (based on a dog found in LA by Jean Seberg and her then husband, Frenchnovelist Romain Gary). Paramount did not agree… one of the reason whythis was Fuller’s final US film. (He moved to France). Orson was a definite Fuller fan. When his crew was searching for him while making The Other Side of the Wind, in 1972, Welles was eventually was found before a TV set.“Just a minute…” He was watching Sam’s Shock  Corridor, 1963.
  60. Jerry Lewis, The King of Comedy, 1982.    “Of course we really wanted Johnny Carson,” said director Martin Scorsese. About the TV talk-show host kidnapped by Robert De Niro’s aspiring comic. “Johnny wouldn’t do it.” Scorsese then thought ofSinatra, or any of his Las Vegas/Ocean’s 11 clan.“I just love that crowd and their clothes.” Or even Orson. “But he wasn’t showbusiness enough.But I’d love to have worked with Mr Welles. Doing anything!  Even cleaning the floor for him.”

  61. Albert Finney, The Dresser, 1983     “The best film I never made,” said Michael Caine.  Indeed, his only professional regret was never making it with… Orson Welles. They’d met in 1963, when Welles went backstage to praise Caine’s performance in the West End play, Next Time I’ll Sing To You.  About 20 years later, Welles approached Caine with a plan to film the hit play by ex-actor Ronald Harwood, about his days as dresser to the great theatrical knight, the more ham than mustard Sir Doanld Wolfit. Too late! Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay had snapped up the rights of Sir and his gay assistant – and won Oscar nominations. A further 33 years later, Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellan made a BBC version “And it was wonderful all over again,” said Caine. Wistfully. Except, alas, Welles would have been an elephant in the dressingroom, lacking the subtlely of Finney or Hopkins.
  62. Max von Sydow, Never Say Never Again, 1983.
  63. Samuel Fuller, Les voleurs de las nuit, France,1983.      US director Samuel  Fuller never gave up on Orson and wroteZoltan for him in this French polar. “COULDN’T CONTACT HIM!” He rewrote it… for Marlene Dietrich!  “COULDN’T CONTACT HER! I said we’d find  SOMEONE GOOD and in the end, IT WAS ME!”.  (Sam Fuller invariably spoke, or growled, in CAPITALS).
  64. Kenneth McMillan, Dune, 1984.

  65. Burgess Meredith, King Lear, 1986.  
    The contract  for bilious auteur Jean-Luc Godard to tackle Shakespeare was signed (an hour after it had  been mooted) on  large napkin at the Majestic Hotel bar during the 1985 Cannes festival.  The film was just as ridiculous.  Marlon Brando  passed (he’d made enough rotten movies) and the modern-day Lear – a New York  Mafia chief Don Learo – was then offered by Godard and the Go Go twins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, to Losey, Dustin Hoffman, Norman Mailer,  Lee Marvin and, naturally, Orson Welles. Before it fell to Rod Steiger, swiftly replaced by grizzly Meredith. (Godard had forgotten the perfect American choice: Robert Mitchum).   Godard’s  film only impressed Godard. So much so, he finally decided to read the play!

  66. John Hillerman, Magnum PI, TV, 1988.   The rich, eccentric and always absent Robin Masters was the one mystery Magnum never really solved. Not really.  Masters was heard but not seen, voiced  for four episodes, 1981-1983,  by Orson Welles, no less. The suits decided Welles should show up in the grand finale but hedied before that ws popssble.  OK, Magnum had always suspected that Marster’s estate manager, man, Higgins, was really the owner of the Oahu beachfront estate,Robin’s Nest. And, sure enough, he admitted it in the 158th ad final episode.  And then recanted. Of course.
  67. Rod Mullinar, Dead Calm, 1989.      Orson filmed off the Dalmatian coast, 1967-1969, giving Hollywood two titles to later pillage: The Deep and his working title, Dead Reckoning. Filming stopped when finances dried up, as per usual, and after his star, Laurence Harvey, died in 1973. Film-maker and Welles biographer  Peter Bogdanovich said the only portion of the film not completed was an explosion towards the end. Thefilm exists in a work print in the Munich Filmmuseau, which is searching for more footage in collectors’ hands.
  68. Tony Curtis, Brittle Glory, 1989.     Orson supplied writer-director Stewart Schill with the firsttitle – Lobster Man From Mars -and died before playing producer JP Sheldrake in what Schill then called The Continued Adventures of Reptile Man and His Faithful Sidekick Tadpole.
  69. John Gielgud, Caligula, 1989.
  70. Anthony Quinn, Revenge, 1990.       Welles had the property after Jack Nicholson and before Clint Eastwood swopped it for Bird. None of them could lick it, including Kevin Costner on-screen.

  71. Tim Roth, Heart of Darkness, 1994.       Welles’ original choice for hisfilm debut at RKO… His script was completed on November 30 1939, sets were designed and actors tested. Orson was to be Marlow and Kurtz (he played both in his secondradio version, 1945)…
  72. John Malkovich, Heart of Darkness, 1994.      Welles settled for Marlow just before the project was cancelled (economically) infavour of Citizen Kane. Apart from greatly influencing Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, 1979, the Conrad book was not made until Nicolas Roeg’s TVersion… 55 years on.

  73. Nigel Hawthorne, The Big Brass Ring, 1998.  
    Orson Welles’ last stand… Another of  Orson’s mid-80s scripts that no one wanted to  make – until a dozen  years after his death. Hollywood!  Potential investors said he must get Clint Eastwood,  Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds… for the gay Texas senator and Presidential hopeful. They all passed.  (So did investors). Some 13 years  after Orson’s death,  Missouri auteur George Hickenlooper adapted the 1982-1987 Welles-Oja Kodar scenarios, with William Hurt running for governor of Missouri (hah!) and colliding into his past –  his aged political mentor, the role Welles meant for himself. Enter: Hawthorne,  Oscar-nominated for Madness of King George.  Criticised for adapting Welles, director George Hickenlooper said: “Welles in many respects was the Shakespeare of the American cinema. So, if Welles adapted Shakespeare, why not adapt Welles? The  British Hawthorne took on the Welles role – of the gay politico involved sexually involved with  Presidential candidate William  Hurt. 






















 Birth year: 1915Death year: 1985Other name: Casting Calls:  73