February Book Review

This month’s review is by Richard Bellikoff

My Lunches with Orson

Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles
Edited by Peter Biskind

Last October marked the centennial of Orson Welles’ birth. Too bad the guest of honor couldn’t attend the celebration, having died in 1985. Fortunately, he left behind more than the movies he wrote, directed and acted in.

For years, a cache of tapes containing private lunchtime conversations between Welles and his friend, the film director Henry Jaglom, gathered dust in a garage. This book reveals their contents for the first time.
Take a ringside seat and eavesdrop on a brilliant raconteur, as he reflects on the highs and lows of his career and tells outlandish stories about all the people he knew, worked with, slept with, was courted and betrayed by, and admired or detested, often simultaneously. As Welles says, “I can make a case for all points of view.”

On these tapes, Welles is unguarded, unfiltered, unvarnished, unscripted, uninhibited and uncompromising. He’s rude and raunchy, fiercely opinionated, and at times vain, prickly and bitter about the artistic disappointments of his later years, but always wickedly funny and entertaining.

Throughout their talks, Welles tells Jaglom about all the films he’s still eager to launch, in a desperate bid for one last triumph. He’d like to “fool the old fellow with the scythe,” as he puts it, but of course, he was mortal like the rest of us.

These conversations may be his last great work. It’s Welles playing the ultimate role, his most memorable creation, Orson Welles.


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