As a follow-up to our first Orson Welles retrospective in June, we are pleased to continue our tribute to his work as filmmaker on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Part One focused on his years in Hollywood, beginning with his debut film, the legendary masterpiece Citizen Kane. The second series honors the films he made during his extended sojourn in Europe beginning in the late 1940s.

One of the most ambitious and influential of all filmmakers, Orson Welles can’t be measured by commercial success. An independent filmmaker long before the term became familiar, he embraced the creative freedom of being away from Hollywood, although the difficulties of financing his projects impelled him to take actor-for-hire jobs. The constant search for production funds would dog his path for the rest of his life, until he passed away at his typewriter in October 1985.

Americans are generally unaware of the films he produced during these years, since few received proper distribution in the United States. As several scholars and critics have noted, much of his work is literally invisible to the public, fueling an erroneous image of Welles as lazy. He was constantly- even obsessively- working, whether it was film, theater, radio, or even television, a new medium in which he wanted to make his mark. While some of his projects remained unfinished, there are remarkable films to discover and cherish.

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Orson Welles’ personal favorite draws from several Shakespeare plays to make Falstaff its central character and the corpulent knight’s relationship with the future Henry V as its tragic heart. Filmed in Spain on a tiny budget, it suffered technical limitations but depicts the middle ages more vividly than any other movie. Even with little money, Welles could attract the best talent, and the international cast includes John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau, Margaret Rutherford, Keith Baxter and several others. A climactic battle scene inspired such films as Braveheart and Kenneth Branagh’s own Henry V. Some critics call this the greatest and most cinematic of Shakespeare films, and we are inclined to agree. Digitally restored version. Writer/Director: Orson Welles. (Spain 1965) 115 min.

Sunday, October 25  •  4:30 & 7:00

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When his original producer went bankrupt at commencement of shooting, Orson Welles made his first post-Hollywood film over a period of two years on real locations (sometimes on different continents), as the filmmaker/star acted in other films (The Third Man, for instance) before reassembling his cast and crew. The end result, which was awarded the Palme d’0r in Cannes in 1952, is one of his best, most personal and most visually dazzling films and second only to Chimes as the best cinematic Shakespeare. Digital restoration. Writer/Director: Orson Welles. (Morocco/Italy 1952) 93 min.

Sunday, November 1  •  4:30 & 7:00

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35mm Print!

Orson Welles’ Mr. Arkadin has existed in several differently edited versions, but the one titled Confidential Report is regarded the closest to his intentions. Peculiar but fascinating, and often very funny, it plays like an absurdist variation on Citizen Kane, in which the mysterious and powerful Mr. Arkadin (Welles) claims amnesia and hires a rogue to track down his own past. Filmed in many European cities with priceless episodes featuring such talent as Michael Redgrave, Akim Tamiroff, Mischa Auer, it also features Italian countess Paola Mori, whom Welles married. Writer/Director: Orson Welles. (Spain/France/Switzerland 1955) 93 min.

Thursday, November 4  •  7:00

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Orson Welles’ visually extraordinary adaptation of the novel by Franz Kafka stars Anthony Perkins as Joseph K, who is accused of a crime that is never defined. When the original budget suddenly collapsed, Welles repeated his Othello improvisation by setting most of the film in the abandoned Gare d’Orsay in Paris. It was a masterstroke, with the labyrinthine architecture of the former railroad station providing a perfect set for this existentialist, absurdist and subversive drama. The impressive cast also includes Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Elsa Martinelli and Akim Tamiroff. Digital restoration. Writer/Director: Orson Welles (France 1962) 119 min.

Thursday, November 8  •  4:30 & 7:00

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Besides Shakespeare, Orson Welles’ favorite author was Isak Dinesen (née Karen Blixen), and his hour-long adaptation of The Immortal Story for European television was his first film in color. In another Kane-like role, Welles stars as Mr. Clay, a wealthy merchant in 19th century Macao who decides to stage (and therefore own) a legendary tale told by sailors. Co-starring Jeanne Moreau, Roger Coggio and Norman Eshley, this surreal, subtly erotic story captures Dinesen’s mystical atmosphere, aided by an inspired use of music by Erik Satie. Also screened will be two short subjects, including Welles’ 1934 student film Hearts of Age. Writer/Director: Orson Welles. (France/Spain 1968) Program approximately 90 min.

Thursday, November 12  •  7:00

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35MM Print!

Screened in a 35mm print, Orson Welles’ final film to enjoy a formal release in the United States was, like much of his work, years ahead of its time. Weaving together documentary footage of Hungarian-born art forger Elmyr de Hory and American literary forger Clifford Irving, Welles adds his own personal stories and his love of magic to create an ingenious film-essay on fakery and the relative value of art. Co-starring his lover and collaborator Oja Kodar, F For Fake initiated a new direction he was eager to pursue in his own art. Writer/Director: Orson Welles. (France/Iran 1975) 90 min.

Sunday, November 15  •  4:30 & 7:00

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JOSEPH MCBRIDE, film historian and Professor at San Francisco State University, has written three books on Orson Welles, the most recent being What Ever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career. He also worked with Welles, as an actor on his long-gestating, still-unfinished drama about the film industry, The Other Side of the Wind. McBride will share stories about that film and its difficult history. He will also screen several rare shorts and clips that represent the work by Welles of which most people are unaware.

Spanish film scholar and director of the FilmTeca de Catalunya in Barcelona, ESTEVE RIAMBAU is the author of three books on Welles: Orson Welles: The Show Without Limits (1985), Orson Welles: An Immortal Spain (1993) and The Things We Have Seen: Welles and Falstaff (2015). Riambau is co-screenwriter of the documentary Orson Welles in the Land of Don Quixote and adapter of the play Yours Truly, Orson Welles (2008).

Program approximately 2 hours.


Thursday, November 19  •  7:00

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Orson Welles’ last film for a Hollywood studio was originally released as a minor “B” movie but has since grown in stature to be regarded as one of his best films, as well as a pinnacle of film noir. Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh star with Welles in a visionary drama about police corruption and racism at the Mexican border, beginning with a bravura camera movement from one side to the other. After delivering a rough cut, Welles was locked out of the editing room, and 40 years after its release, a crew that included Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch reconstructed the film to conform, as much as possible, to Welles’ intentions. That is the version we present. (US 1958) 111 min.


Sunday, November 22  •  4:30 & 7:00

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