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Showing posts with the label Joseph Cotten

Horse Eats Hat

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Along with poet Edwin Denby, Orson adapted Eugene Labiche’s “The Italian Straw Hat” into a comic farce called “Horse Eats Hat.” At its core is a story of misunderstanding, a silly blunder. A horse eats the hat of Agatha, a married twenty-something. She is amidst an extra-marital affair and is afraid her husband will find out if she returns home without her hat. She cajoles her friend Freddy to look for a replacement. The hitch? Freddy is about to get hitched--married. He keeps his bride-to-be waiting while running around on the trivial errand for his friend. The play, in the hands of Welles, however, grew into an exploration of what is real and what is staged, with intermissions punctuated with staged kerfuffles in aisles, etc. It was the second of Welles’ FTP productions. While he was able to cast Joseph Cotten as Freddy, Paula Laurence as Agatha, and his wife Virginia as Freddy’s fiance, “Wonder Boy Welles” was finding the pickings to be a bit slim in terms of talent.

The Second Hurricane

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A brief aside during Welles’s stint working on Federal Theatre Project productions, The Second Hurricane was an operetta by Aaron Copland. The production ran for just three performances, the first on April 21, 1937. It ran at New York’s Henry Street Settlement, with some proceeds going to public schools, and included mainly child performers. One adult included was Welles’s longtime friend and colleague, Joseph Cotten.

Citizen Kane Production

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Welles entered his tumultuous but illustrious teenage years before talking pictures were made. He cut his teeth in live theatre and then got into broadcasting via radio. For him, film was a frontier. It’s only fair to note, though, that his original motivation for exploring this virgin territory was to raise money for Broadway productions of such upcoming plays as Five Kings and Playboys of the Western World. He flew to Hollywood, rented a house between the residences of Shirley Temple and Greta Garbo, and signed a luxurious two-movie contract with RKO. His plan was to shoot, for his first film, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s controversial classic Heart of Darkness . But work on this project ran aground, producing nothing. Welles also forayed briefly into an attempt at producing an adaptation of Nicholas Blake’s The Smiler With a Knife. This, too would be aborted, and according to the tired adage, the third time would be the charm, yielding the classic Citizen Kane . Bef

European Film: The Third Man (1949)

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This 1949 classic stars Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli and Trevor Howard, and chronicles pulp novelist Holly Martins who travels to Vienna and ends up investigating the death of an old friend, Harry Lime. He eventually discovers that the man he’d seen in a coffin at the narrative’s outset had not in fact been Lime. It won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Black and White, and for Best Director (Carol Reed). Welles played the role of  Harry Lime , who, while being a major entity in the narrative, did not appear on screen for much of the movie. Welles was responsible largely for acting in one scene, a chase through the sewers. Upon arriving for his brief stay in Vienna, Welles found himself staying next door to his fetching co-star, Alida Valli. However, nothing romantic developed between the two, a circumstance he would later bemoan.  “I see The Third Man every two or three years,” he told biographer Barbara Leaming , “and I look at Alida Valli, and I say, ‘What was in your m

Family and Relationships

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The Three Wives Orson was known to carry a certain charm for ladies who encountered him. He responded by throwing as much verve into matters of the heart as he did into his work. Virginia Nicholson He did everything young, with marriage as no exception. On Dec. 23, 1934, the nineteen-year-old married Virginia Nicholson, whom he’d met at one of his Summer drama festivals at the Todd school. Described by Barbara Leaming as “a porcelain skinned beauty,” Virginia endeared herself to Orson with “the wonderfully outrageous stories she would tell him when they were alone.” Virginia gave birth, on Mar. 27, 1938, to a baby girl named Christopher. Orson’s marriage to Virginia was marked by his infidelities to her and his absences. It came to an end five years after it began, on Feb. 1, 1940. Welles was at the crest of the success of his Mercury Theatre empire, about to begin work on Citizen Kane. Rita Hayworth Enter Rita Hayworth. She was born Margarita Carmen Cansi