Film Directors with their Shirts Off: The Enormity Of It All


Well, we’ve already seen him with his trousers down. Now as it must to all men, the time comes to see him with his shirt off. John Houseman gives us a swift verbal picture of what we’re missing ~

“He said he had been working all night and when I arrived he was still in his bath — a monstrous, medieval iron cistern which, when it was covered at night with a board and mattress, served them as a marriage bed. Orson was lying there, inert and covered with water, through which his huge, dead-white body appeared swollen to gigantic proportions. When he got up, full of apologies, with a great splashing and cascading of waters, I discovered that his bulk owed nothing to refraction — that he was, in reality, just as enormous outside as inside the tub which, after he had risen from it and had started to dry himself, was seen to hold no more than a few inches of liquid lapping about huge, pale feet.”

From Unfinished Business.

“He looks like Tiny Tears,” says Fiona. “He’s got a body like Tiny Tears.”


George Orson Welles Tiny Tears.

Coincidentally, we listened to Welles’s radio version of Dracula via YouTube, which goes like a train and is very spooky to boot. Funny how, in eschewing the languorous pace of the Lugosi, it kind of anticipates the bracing abruptness of the Hammer version. It does borrow the curtain call speech from the Universal version. This one is so fast it omits the brides of Dracula and Renfield altogether, but beefs up Mina’s part to make her a proper heroine and give Agnes Moorehead a chance to get her hysteria out again. Welles as Drac sounds like his JOURNEY INTO FEAR heavy played too slow, sonorous and powerful, but as Dr Seward he’s really great, adding a sense of authentic terror to the piece. The neurotic fervor of George Coulouris’s Jonathan Harker redoubles the effect (even with savage pruning, you can’t escape Stoker’s messy multiplying of protagonists!)

Thanks to RWC for the Welles skin.

7 Responses to “Film Directors with their Shirts Off: The Enormity Of It All”

  1. What can I say? Rita Hayworth had a stronger stomach than I have!

  2. Maybe Rita had a stronger stomach but Orson’s was bigger.

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    Did Pierre Etaix ever go shirtless? Excited to see the Criterion Collection site announce 23 April as the roll-out of the Ouevres Completes here in the US, with your essay included.

    Welles did better with an expanse of darkened sternum in OTHELLO, rather than show the Full Monty.

  4. Thanks! I was waiting to post an announcement of the Criterion but I guess it’s safe now. The essay is still in progress. I can’t think of a scene sans chemise in his oeuvre, though.

  5. Orson may not have had a great body even when young, but he had a sexy baby face and his personality and intelligence would have made up–for me anyway–for his lack of a six pack.

  6. God bless you! You give hope to pudgy, smart guys everywhere (with personality).

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