Orson Welles' unfinished film may finally see release

Orson Welles' unfinished film may finally see release

Orson Welles’ unfinished The Other Side Of The Wind could finally see theaters some 40 years after its production, according to The Guardian, who reports that the long-running legal dispute over its ownership may be nearing an end. For decades now, the film shot in 1972 has been stored in a Paris vault while various parties have intervened to stop its release—among them Jacqueline Boushehri, widow of the brother-in-law to the Shah of Iran who supplied Welles with funds, and Welles’ longtime girlfriend Oja Kodar, the Croatian actress who co-wrote and co-starred in F For Fake and appeared in Welles’ final three, never-completed films (including this one, The Deep, and The Dreamers). After years of drawn-out disputes, both parties finally appear to be ready to sell their shares in The Other Side Of The Wind, and negotiations are currently underway that could possibly lead to news of the “finishing and public exhibition” of the film within the next few weeks.

Of course, the “finishing” part has created its own controversy: Welles himself only managed to edit 40 minutes before it was shelved, but Peter Bogdanovich—who starred in the film, and also lent his own Beverly Hills house to its production—has long talked of editing and completing the project himself using the “extensive notes” he received from Welles. However, that idea has already been met with some resistance from Welles purists, notably producer Françoise Widhoff, who believes it should remain in its raw footage form, and Spanish filmmaker and occasional Welles collaborator Andrés Vicente Gómez, who thinks completing it without Welles’ input would be an “act of betrayal.”

In whatever form it’s released, it should be a fascinating addition to Welles’ legacy: The Other Side Of The Wind is a non-linear narrative that Welles described to star John Huston as “about a bastard director… full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It's about us, John.” Huston plays a macho, aging Hollywood filmmaker who attempts to revive his career by making a sex-laden swinging ’70s exploitation flick—seen, along with a mockumentary on his career, as a film within the film—while the press dogs him at his 70th birthday party. It sounds like a commentary on the entire movie industry, which would certainly make for a bittersweet coda to Welles’ career; here’s hoping it finally sees the light of day.  

In the meantime, here's one of the few clips from the film that's made its way out into the world: