The word “genius” was whispered into my ear, the first thing I ever heard, while I was still mewing in my crib. So it never occurred to me that I wasn’t until middle age. –Orson Welles

“Come on, read my future for me.”
“You haven’t got any.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your future is all used up.”
–Orson Welles (drunken sheriff) & Marlene Dietrich (fortune teller), in TOUCH OF EVIL

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tomorrow marks the birthday of Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 — the same day Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run). Welles, as you may well know, was “the ultimate auteur” director, co-writer, and star (at age 25) of CITIZEN KANE, considered by many film critics to be one of the greatest movies ever made — and it isn’t even my favorite Welles’ picture (but I will tell of two that are favorites).

The life story of such a complex, larger-than-life legend is beyond the scope of this post, and could itself make as great a movie (CITIZEN WELLES?) as it made a great biography, aptly titled simply ORSON WELLES (another of my library book sale bargain buys) by Barbara Leaming….which leads me to this Welles quote from her book:

“I see The Third Man every two or three years — it’s the only movie of mine I ever watch on television because I like it so much.”

Great minds must indeed think alike, because he and I are of one mind regarding THE THIRD MAN — it is the one Welles’ movie I have watched many times over the years.

Turning from that “non-auteur” film in which Welles acted but didn’t direct, to films Welles both directed and starred in, my favorite is TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). During the 1940s, the mercurial Welles increasingly didn’t see eye-to-eye with movie moguls and had become persona non grata in Hollywood. Leaving for Europe, he starred in the 1948 Italian film BLACK MAGIC (he, by the way, was a wizard of an amateur magician and member of The International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians), followed by THE THIRD MAN (1949) and several other British and Italian films and radio series into the 1950s. TOUCH OF EVIL was his third film following his return to Hollywood in 1956.

More Welles quotes:

Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit.

Race hate isn’t human nature; race hate is the abandonment of human nature.

I don’t pray because I don’t want to bore God.

I started at the top and worked down.

Again great minds think alike — I started this post at the top and worked down….and now nothing remains but to go into my disappearing act.




16 comments on “A “TOUCH OF EVIL” GENIUS

  1. Don Frankel says:

    I always wondered if all the genius talk had to do with that first film because it had to do with a larger than life subject Randolph Hearst. Then again maybe it had to do with the fact that he wrote and directed and starred in it. But then Jerry Lewis used to do that too and play a half a dozen parts as well. Oh wait Jerry Lewis is a genius too. At least in France or so they say.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse says:

      Irrespective of his artistic genius, Welles would have been well served to be a financial genius, as he was constantly short of cash to finance his dreams. In the biography ORSON WELLES, he is quoted as follows re taking the part of Harry Lime in THE THIRD MAN: “I was given a choice between $100,000 or 20% of the picture, and I took the $100,000. Picture grossed something unbelievable. In America it was only a success, but in the rest of the world it was an absolute bombshell. There wasn’t such a hit in 25 years as there was in Europe. I could’ve retired on that!”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. arekhill1 says:

    I’ve tormented myself by watching “Citizen Kane” maybe twice, and was never led by that experience into any desire to view anything else the Wells made. I’m sure I’m missing something, but I am an insensitive bastard, at least according to the majority of my exes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse says:

      You might want to give THE THIRD MAN a shot, Ricardo. If you don’t like it, I guarantee you wouldn’t like anything else Wells made (especially since Welles didn’t make that one — he was just one of the stars).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. More great quotes from that library mind of yours! I loved the clips, and am inspired to rejoin HULU only if I can watch these films again (no TV for decades now, so computer viewing on my oversized monitor is my only choice).

    My love of black and white films might eclipse even Wells – what a dramatic format (and, also like Wells, even the IDEA of colorizing these masterpieces of cinematography makes me physically ill!)

    Except for the war – lol – I think the 40’s would have been my era (tho’ the 30s appeal as well). You can have the 50s – and NOW, however – especially the politics and politicians. Interesting how cinema flounders when leadership is callow – middle-aged men without wisdom or humanity. (Public education goes belly up as well – duh!).

    But Wells said it best, “Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit.” Here’s to spirit – and thanks for another great post!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      I too love the clips — especially the one in which Bogdanovich talks about The Third Man and Orson Welles. He articulates what makes black and white filmmaking (in the hands of a great director) so compelling: “It’s the lack of distraction” compared with Technicolor films, the focus on the dramatic as opposed to the color of things (though I disagree that there have been no great Technicolor movies).

      “Here’s to spirit” indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Color is one more element to manage, and in a very different fashion, lighting-wise – but few color films can match the power and sheer cinematic drama of black and white, to my mind. I’m with you on disagreeing that there are no good color films, however.

        Bogdanovich understands good directing, so I found the clip interesting as well – like attending a great lecture back in my college days (which I always adored *almost* as much as participating in the following discussion – lol).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. restlessjo says:

    I’m no movie buff and not really familiar with his work but those are great quotes. Sorry I missed his birthday 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mistermuse says:

    Here’s another quote you may like from Welles, who became very obese in the 1950s:
    “My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four….unless there are three other people.”


  6. mistermuse says:

    Many thanks. I checked out your blog and liked the first post I read. I’ll have to go back for more later.


  7. Christie says:

    A couple of weeks ago I was in need of inspiration, and I was thinking who else to ask, other than Mr Muse 🙂 If it’s not too much to ask – and maybe an idea of a new post – could you put a list together with your most favourite movies? I will let you add the numbers, and don’t be shy with recommendations 🙂 Thank you in advance!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mistermuse says:

    Christie, I’m not sure what you mean by “add the numbers,” and it would take too much time to elaborate on why I recommend each movie I list, but I’ll be happy to make a list. It will be in alphabetical order rather than in order of preference (I’d only consider doing preference by genres, and even then, it wouldn’t be easy). Finally, the list will consist almost entirely of 20th century films, as I have seen very few new movies since the 1990s.

    Airplane! 1980
    The Apartment 1960
    Atlantic City 1981
    Babes in Toyland 1934
    Bad Day at Black Rock 1955
    The Band Wagon 1953
    Being There 1979
    Bells Are Ringing 1960
    The Best Years of Our Lives 1946
    Blazing Saddles 1974
    Body Heat 1981
    The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957
    Brief Encounter 1946
    Broadway Danny Rose 1984
    Cabaret 1972
    Casablanca 1942
    City Lights 1931
    Dodsworth 1936
    Double Indemnity 1944
    Duck Soup 1933
    The General 1927
    The Graduate 1967
    The Grapes of Wrath 1940
    Great Expectations 1947
    I Know Where I’m Going 1947
    It’s a Gift 1935
    Judgment at Nuremberg 1961
    The Lady Eve 1941
    Lawrence of Arabia 1962
    Lion 2016
    A Little Romance 1979
    Local Hero 1983
    Love Me Tonight 1932
    Lust for Life 1956
    Major Barbara 1941
    Make Way for Tomorrow 1937
    The Maltese Falcon 1941
    Manhattan 1979
    Meet Me in St. Louis 1944
    Midnight in Paris 2011
    Modern Times 1936
    My Dinner with André 1981
    My Fair Lady 1964
    North by Northwest 1959
    North to Alaska 1960
    Notorious 1946
    Oklahoma! 1955
    Oliver! 1968
    One Hour With You 1932
    Paint Your Wagon 1969
    The Producers 1968
    The Purple Rose of Cairo 1985
    Ride the High Country 1962
    Roman Holiday 1953
    Ruggles of Red Gap 1935
    Schindler’s List 1993
    Shane 1953
    The Shop Around the Corner 1940
    Singin’ in the Rain 1952
    Sleeper 1973
    Some Like It Hot 1959
    State Fair 1945
    The Stranger’s Return 1933
    Sullivan’s Travels 1942
    Summertime 1955
    Sunset Boulevard 1950
    Swing Time 1936
    The Thief of Bagdad 1940
    The Third Man 1950
    The Thirty-Nine Steps 1935
    Top Hat 1935
    Touch of Evil 1958
    Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948
    Vertigo 1958
    The Wizard of Oz 1939
    Young Frankenstein 1974

    I’m sure there’s a few more I’ve seen but can’t remember off the top of my head, as well as some I haven’t seen (such as the first two Godfather movies) that would probably be on the list if I saw them.


    • Christie says:

      Thank you so much!!! You made my day🙂 I have enough “numbers” now to keep me busy for the next year or so. You didn’t miss anything not watching new movies. I get upset, sometimes (or most of the time), for wasting my time when try to see a new one.
      Rubbing my hands now, I’m getting busy🙂 By for now, have a wonderful day!!

      Liked by 1 person

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