Movie of the Week #14

(Orson Welles; 1968-1969)

What transpires when a world-class film artist is consigned to his or her own devices indefinitely? If your name is Orson Welles you do guest shots on Variety shows, wax nostalgic on a once glorious past on chat shows, lend your weight as an actor (physical as well as spiritual) to whatever godforsaken film project your agent can peel off the bottom of a very slimy barrel and, hopefully, pick up a camera when you find time and the money in whatever meager quantities fortune sees fit to provide.

Maybe the shortest Shaggy Dog story ever committed to film, Vienna finds Orson Welles' filmmaking at its most delighted, its most giddy. But for the panoply of locations where it was shot (from the eponymous Old World capitol to a stage in Hollywood), one would almost think it a home movie; not too different from those odd bagatelles Charles Chaplin used to whip up in his First National days when distinguished visitors stopped by.

Though nowhere near as formally elaborate or rigorous, the gleeful tone of Welles' Vienna directly anticipates that screwball comedy of montage, F for Fake. And like all of Welles' home-grown product (only errant moments of which saw the light of day in his lifetime), it has an unbeatable juvenile spirit, but with none of the cringe-inducing amateurishness that condition implies.

1 comment:

Vanwall said...

Jaysus, but he had fun!