Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Coming Soon: Orson Welles's TOO MUCH JOHNSON

Source: New York Times .Copyright George Eastman House, Cineteca dei Friuli
How much lost film is truly lost? The answer today is slightly less following the announcement of the rediscovery and restoration of Orson Welles's legendary film project Too Much Johnson, which will have a world premiere in October in Pordenone, Italy, followed by an American screening later that month. It may be exaggerating to describe Too Much Johnson as a film, since it isn't really complete unto itself. Welles shot it in 1938, three years before Citizen Kane, with his Mercury Theater company (including Joseph Cotten) as an accompaniment to the 1894 play of the same name, which Welles intended to revive as a multimedia spectacle on Broadway. The show flopped out of town and Welles eventually lost track of the footage. It's not his first experiment with cinema, but his teenage project Hearts of Age has been readily available for some time now. Johnson comes from the period when Welles was approaching his first peak of fame. Already hailed as an innovative theater director and known by many as the voice of The Shadow on the radio, Welles would cap 1938 with his historic War of the Worlds radio broadcast. He turned 23 that year. While Citizen Kane was long considered the greatest film ever made, and is still thought so by many, Welles himself remains an archetype of talent and potential wasted, whether ruined by Hollywood or squandered by himself. Whatever Too Much Johnson proves to be in restored form, it should serve as a reminder of how much potential Welles was thought to have in his "boy genius" years. It will certainly be cause for hope that other lost films are still only temporarily missing.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Wow this is awesome news. Looking forward to seeing it!