The Other Side of the Wind

Orson WellesOne of my goals in life is entirely beyond my control: to see Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind. I first learned of it in the documentary Orson Wells: One Man Band (it comes on the extras disc with F for Fake, which you really should own). That film contained two clips from The Other Side of the Wind. Since then three more clips from the film have been released. I had been under the impression that the film was finished and that only legal problems stopped it from being released. This is not the case. Welles only cut 40 minutes of the film, leaving 70 minutes of screen time to be cut together. The current status of the film is that all the legal problems have been eliminated. The only problem now is that Oja Kodar, Welles’ companion in later years and co-writer of the film, will only give the go ahead if someone ponies up the cash to complete the film properly. She is rightly concerned that it would turn out like Welles’ Don Quixote.[1]

The story is complicated. It is primarily about Jake Hannaford (played by director John Huston). Based on Ernest Hemingway, he is a great but out of favor filmmaker who is trying to make an edgy, modern film that will get him back on top—or something. It starts with one of Jake’s friends, Billy Boyle (played by director Norman Foster), at a screening with a studio executive, trying to get money to complete the film. During the screening, we see scenes from the movie Jake is making, “The Other Side of the Wind.” Then the story turns to Jake’s 70th birthday party where there are actors and media. At the party they screen the film until the power goes out. Then they move to a drive-in theater and watch the rest of the film. Jake, drunk and despondent, kills himself (intentionally or not) by driving his sports car into the movie screen.

Below is a playlist I put together of the four scenes I could find from the movie in the order I suspect they occur. The first is the screening. The second is Jake’s arrival at the party with his protege Brooks Otterlake (played by director Peter Bogdanovich). The third is a pretty explicit sexual scene in the movie Jake is making. The fourth is two conversions, one between two of Jake’s friends (directors Henry Jaglom and Paul Mazursky) and one with one friend (director Dennis Hopper); they are often talking to Jake who is always off screen. Every one of these scenes is thrilling. You ought to be able to tell why one thing I want to do before I die is see this whole film.

[1] Regular readers of this site should know two things about me: I’m a nut for Don Quixote and I greatly admire Orson Welles. It should thus be a powerful statement when I say that Welles’ Don Quixote is almost unwatchable. There is, however, this one moment of brilliance which is not in the released film. The clip is silent. The music the poster put on it is not appropriate (it sounds like Nico).

[Video Missing]

In addition to everything else, this clip shows that Welles really understood Don Quixote.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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