CITIZEN WELLES: A Biography of Orson Welles by Frank Brady
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CITIZEN WELLES: A Biography of Orson Welles

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Wellesian's delight, the monumental life (630+ pages) that Welles deserves, written with polish, brilliance, deep warmth, and love. Both Barbara Leaming's excellent Orson Welles and Charles Higham's flat Orson Welles: The Rise and Fall o fan American Genius scanted miserably on the second half of Welles' career. But now Brady (Hefner, Onassis, etc.) has at last done the job Wellesians wanted. The opening chapters are sheer charm as the infant genius jumps into artistic endeavors while hardly out of the playpen. Welles skipped childhood, took up wine and very late hours and determinedly deepened his voice with cigars before he was ten. His mother was an amateur concert pianist whose Chicago soirÇes were attended by the world's greatest artists, with whom Welles chatted as an adult, though he was only eight when she died. His father took him globe-trotting to the Orient. At three, Welles had debuted as Cio-Cio San's baby in Madame Butterfly; in his very early teens, he mounted 40-some plays at the Todd School for Boys, edited, published, and illustrated his own versions of four Shakespeare plays: by 16, he was in full bloom as an actor, playing repertory in Dublin's Gate Theater. Soon he had mastered radio as well, conquered Broadway with the most original shows ever mounted on the American stage, and burst into world consciousness as the monster behind radio's Martian invasion. Brady is particularly keen on how the films were made, and in tracing down missing scenes (Touch of Evil especially). The tragedy of The Magnificent Ambersons perhaps need never be told again and he thoroughly punctures Pauline Kael's elevation of Herman Mankiewicz as principal screenwriter of Citizen Kane. Exhilaratingly fresh, buoyant, deep-delving--and with every page worthy of its subject.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1989
ISBN: 684-18982-8
Publisher: Scribner
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