Huw Wheldon: The fact is, you’re in love with the movies, aren’t you?
Orson Welles: That’s my trouble! You see, if I’d only stayed in the theater, I could have worked steadily, without stopping for all these years. But, having made one film, I decided that it was the best and most beautiful form that I knew and one that I wanted to continue with. I was in love with it as you say, really tremendously so.

Orson Welles on the set of Chimes at Midnight.

Orson Welles: My own special case is that, to function happily, I like to feel a little like Columbus: in every scene I want to discover America. And I don’t want to hear about those goddamn Vikings. Each time I set foot on a movie set, I like to plant a flag. The more I know about the intrepid discoverers who’ve come before me, the more my little flag begins to look like the one on the golf course which you take out of a hole so you can sink a putt. I don’t pretend at all that my own delicate feelings in this matter should be taken as dogma, but I will say this: let filmmakers beware of films. They really are bad, you know, for the eyes. Filmmakers spend too much of their lives in projection rooms. They should come out more often into the sunshine. Other men’s films are a poor source of vitamins. … You follow me?Peter Bogdanovich: I think I agree.OW: Other men’s films are full of good things which really ought to be invented all over again. Again and again. Invented—not repeated. The good things should be found—found—in that precious spirit of the first time out, and images discovered—not referred to.PB: Well, it’s a big problem for anybody starting now—OW: Everything’s been done, you mean? No, that’s not the problem. The trouble is that everything’s been seen. Directors see too many movies. Sure, everything’s been done, but it’s much healthier not to know about it. Hell, everything had all been done when I started…
(From This is Orson Welles.)

Orson Welles on the set of Chimes at Midnight.

Orson Welles: My own special case is that, to function happily, I like to feel a little like Columbus: in every scene I want to discover America. And I don’t want to hear about those goddamn Vikings. Each time I set foot on a movie set, I like to plant a flag. The more I know about the intrepid discoverers who’ve come before me, the more my little flag begins to look like the one on the golf course which you take out of a hole so you can sink a putt. I don’t pretend at all that my own delicate feelings in this matter should be taken as dogma, but I will say this: let filmmakers beware of films. They really are bad, you know, for the eyes. Filmmakers spend too much of their lives in projection rooms. They should come out more often into the sunshine. Other men’s films are a poor source of vitamins. … You follow me?
Peter Bogdanovich: I think I agree.
OW: Other men’s films are full of good things which really ought to be invented all over again. Again and again. Invented—not repeated. The good things should be found—found—in that precious spirit of the first time out, and images discovered—not referred to.
PB: Well, it’s a big problem for anybody starting now—
OW: Everything’s been done, you mean? No, that’s not the problem. The trouble is that everything’s been seen. Directors see too many movies. Sure, everything’s been done, but it’s much healthier not to know about it. Hell, everything had all been done when I started…

(From This is Orson Welles.)

Orson Welles on the set of Chimes at Midnight.

Peter Bogdanovich [reading]: “Writers should have the first and last word in moviemaking, the only better alternative being the writer-director, with stress on the first word.”Orson Welles: I’ll stick with that. Just plain directing is the world’s easiest job.PB: You’d better qualify that one!OW: Peter, there isn’t another trade in the world where a man can go blithely on for thirty years with no one ever finding out that he’s incompetent. Give him a good script, a good cast, and a good cutter—or just one of those elements—all he has to say is “Action” and “Cut,” and the movie makes itself… I mean it, Peter. Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre. But when a good director makes a bad film, the entire universe knows who’s responsible.PB: Hmm…OW: The true author-director has to be so much better than any ordinary pro. When he isn’t, it shows badly. The hacks are safe; the originals are out on a limb—which is just where they belong, of course.PB: Are there more originals today, or less?OW: Are movies almost finished, or have we scarcely started? Who knows? It’s like that great remark of Chesterton’s: “Nobody knows,” he said, “whether the world is old or young.”
(From This is Orson Welles.)

Orson Welles on the set of Chimes at Midnight.

Peter Bogdanovich [reading]: “Writers should have the first and last word in moviemaking, the only better alternative being the writer-director, with stress on the first word.”
Orson Welles: I’ll stick with that. Just plain directing is the world’s easiest job.
PB: You’d better qualify that one!
OW: Peter, there isn’t another trade in the world where a man can go blithely on for thirty years with no one ever finding out that he’s incompetent. Give him a good script, a good cast, and a good cutter—or just one of those elements—all he has to say is “Action” and “Cut,” and the movie makes itself… I mean it, Peter. Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre. But when a good director makes a bad film, the entire universe knows who’s responsible.
PB: Hmm…
OW: The true author-director has to be so much better than any ordinary pro. When he isn’t, it shows badly. The hacks are safe; the originals are out on a limb—which is just where they belong, of course.
PB: Are there more originals today, or less?
OW: Are movies almost finished, or have we scarcely started? Who knows? It’s like that great remark of Chesterton’s: “Nobody knows,” he said, “whether the world is old or young.”

(From This is Orson Welles.)

The Films of Orson Welles

Part Two: 1955 - 1974
Mr. Arkadin | Touch of Evil | The Trial | Chimes at Midnight | The Immortal Story | F for Fake