THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND
(director: Orson Welles; screenwriter: Oja Kodar; cinematographer: Gary Graver; editors: Bob Murawski, Orson Welles; music: Michel Legrand; cast: John Huston (Jake Hannaford), Oja Kodar (unnamed actress), Peter Bogdanovich (Brooks Otterlake), Susan Strasberg (Julie Rich), Norman Foster (Billy Boyle), Bob Random (John Dale), Zarah Valeska (Lilli Palmer), Edmond O’Brien (Pat Mullins), Mercedes McCambridge (Maggie Noonan ), Cameron Mitchell (Zimmer), Paul Stewart (Matt Costello), Gregory Sierra (Jack Simon), Tonio Selwart (The Baron), Dan Tobin (Dr. Bradley Pease Burroughs), John Carroll (Lou Martin), Henry Jaglom (Himself), Paul Mazursky (Himself), Dennis Hopper (Himself), Curtis Harrington (Himself), Claude Chabrol (Himself); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Frank Marshall, Filip Jan Rymsza; Netflix; 2018)
“It’s a remarkable film, one that requires multiple viewings to be fully appreciated and understood for its satire.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An unfinished 1970 experimental film by the great filmmaker Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane”/”F for Fake“), who died in 1985, gets released in 2018, 48 years later, as a finished lost film after much development over the years and the initial six years Welles worked on it (from 1970-1976).
Peter Bogdanovich, a filmmaker and friend of Welles (who appears in the film as basically himself, a director), was asked by Welles to oversee the final edits if Welles couldn’t. According to Welles’ notes the job of editing would be entrusted mostly to Bob Murawski with help from Filip Jan Rymsza and Frank Marshall. A new score was created by Michel Legrand. Also pitching in to help was Welles’ sexual partner and co-writer Oja Kodar.
The odd film was intended to be a satire on both the Classic Hollywood and the European and Hollywood avant-garde filmmakers in the 1970s. It was shot as a mockumentary in both color and black-and-white, in an unconventional style, as it features a film-within-a-film setup. It’s closest in revolutionary spirit to the artistic work of Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni (it was even made nearby Antonioni’s house used in his 1970 film Zabriskie Point). It focuses on the last days of a fictional dying legendary Hollywood director named Jake Hannaford (John Huston), an obvious stand-in for Welles but whose persona resembles Hemingway’s macho ways. Jake is obsessed to make a great comeback in an indie after forgotten by Hollywood for years and is hinging everything on his new film called The Other Side of The Wind to be that ticket to success if he can raise the money to finish making it. The film is almost completed on the day of Jake’s 70th birthday, despite the leading man, John Dale (Robert Random), walking off the set in the middle of a key scene and needing more financial backing to complete. The wild party to celebrate Jake’s return to films is thrown by his friend Zarah Valeska (Lilli Palmer) at a ranch with Jake’s colleagues, friends, film critics and hangers-on (party guests include those from the ‘new wave’ of filmmaking: Dennis Hopper, Henry Jaglom, Paul Mazursky, and Claude Chabrol). The party scene, where Jake is still raising money among the partygoers for its release is juxtaposed with scenes from footage of the film. It’s a remarkable film, one that requires multiple viewings to be fully appreciated and understood for its satire (so far, I have seen it only once and find it to be an unusual and curious Welles film but not a lost masterpiece). It takes a getting used to such things as all the roles you must encounter, its nudity and a sex scene (a first for Welles), the jittery jump cuts and that this is not a typical sober-minded Welles film. It’s on Netflix, after they cleared-up all the legal issues that kept it grounded for years, which allows for multiple viewings and a chance to see how Welles is evolving as a filmmaker or devolving for those less inclined to care for the film. For those who criticize it as a self-indulgent work wrapped in Welles spoofing the Hollywood regulars and the avant-garde with bitterness, you should try to see what this cinema genius might have been able to do with a Hollywood-sized big-budget.
REVIEWED ON 11/18/2018 GRADE: A- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/