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Orson Welles’ Last Picture Show: Peter Bogdanovich on ‘The Other Side of the Wind’

Orson Welles' Last Picture Show: Peter Bogdanovich on 'The Other Side of the Wind'

There isn’t a single public
appearance I’ve made over the last thirty years during which I wasn’t asked
about Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind.” Every time, the people wanted
to know if or when it would ever be released, and for many years, my answer generally was: “I think in a year or so.” Boy, was I ever wrong.

You see,
back in the mid-70s, Welles was shooting what would turn out to be his last
film, and during lunch one time, very casually, Orson said to me out of the
blue: “Listen… If anything ever happens to me, I want you to promise me you’ll
finish the picture.” I was shocked. “Orson, why would you say such a thing?
Nothing’s going to happen to you.” He nodded. “I know, but if anything should happen
to me, I want you to promise me that you’ll finish the picture.” I said, “Well,
of course I would, but—“ He cut me off. “Alright, that’s fine. Now we can
change the subject.”

Well, Orson
passed away in 1985, and since then I have been trying to edit and finish “The
Other Side of the Wind,” as I promised him. He had shot everything he needed,
but had edited only about 40 minutes, in no particular order. Eventually, after
many years, in 1999, I finally got Showtime to agree to do it—over three regimes—yet legal hassles just
wouldn’t let it happen.

During that period, I brought my
old friend, Frank Marshall, into the story. Frank and I met when he was
nineteen, and he worked with me on the first seven pictures I directed. Then,
many years later, after he had become one of the top producers in Hollywood, we
did two more. Frank had also worked with Orson in the 70s, as a kind of
line-producer on “The Other Side of the Wind,” so it was an easy fit for Frank
to come in and use his power to get this thing done finally. That was sixteen
years ago, and Frank’s been on the case all that time.

Now, at
long last, however, it really is happening. Frank, along with producer Filip Jan
Rymsza, have secured all the necessary rights (an ordeal on its own) and enough
money to get started. This amazing event was dealt with on the front page of The New York Times (just below the fold)
at the end of October 2014. And shortly thereafter, Frank and Filip were
approached by Indiegogo, “The Largest Global Crowdfunding and Fundraising Site
Online,” with the suggestion that the remaining funds necessary to finish “The
Other Side of the Wind” be raised through their organization.

All the rights holders
agreed that it would be very interesting to finance the completion of the
picture through the public. Everyone who knew Orson thought he would’ve loved
the idea, and would’ve been amused and delighted by the irony of the whole situation.
After years of film industry neglect in his home country, having only been able
to make a dozen films over a period of forty-five years—now, thirty years after
his death—the people are rallying to support him. And so, in Welles’ centennial
year (he turned 100 on May 6th, 2015), the world audience will make
it possible to complete Orson’s last picture.

If you go to to this site
, you will find the entire story of the financing of “The Other Side of the
Wind,” and where it stands right this minute. There were 40 scheduled days to
raise $2,000,000, and the clock is ticking. A good number of filmmakers are
coming forward and endorsing this project: everybody from Clint Eastwood to Wes
Anderson. Anyone who loves movies wants to see Orson Welles’ final work, and it
looks like they soon will. Orson was right again. Not too long before he died,
he said to me, “O how they’ll love me when I’m dead.”

READ MORE: Here’s How You Can Help Finish Orson Welles’ Final Film

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