Archive for January 28, 2011


Posted in FILM with tags , , , on January 28, 2011 by dcairns

This is supposedly the last bit of film Orson Welles took.

This clip has been doing the rounds, including at MUBI, but there was no way I wasn’t posting it here. If it’s Orson’s last moment on film, it’s a wonderful valediction. For that to be true, he’d have had to have finished his appearance on The Merv Griffin Show, returned home, got Gary Graver to set up this shot, filmed it, and then left a message on Henry Jaglom’s answering machine  — so that, like Kane, Welles’s last words were spoken with nobody in the room, and yet we know what they were.

“This is your friend. Don’t forget to tell me how your mother is.”

That’s all possible. According to the rather disdainful Jon Tuska, in Encounters with Filmmakers, Welles had been exercising a lot in his pool lately, trying to get fit to play King Lear. This may have contributed to his death by heart failure on my 18th birthday… but as a result, he may have been feeling unusually energetic that night. And Welles was always a man who slept very little.

“I have no desire to sleep.”

It may be that this was shot at an earlier time, and is merely the last scene Welles directed himself. Of course, it’s still precious if that’s all it is. It certainly resonates like a funeral toll. Do we know who Orson’s friend, “Bill” is?

A horse he bet on in a race?