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Orson Welles’ First Film ‘Too Much Johnson’ Discovered In Italy

Orson Welles Too Much JohnsonWe all know of Orson Welles from his vocal performance in THE TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE and his voice work for Findus Frozen Peas, but long before that he made his directorial debut that many herald as the greatest film of all time, CITIZEN KANE. Well, it was thought to be his debut, but a recent discovery in Italy may be about to shake things up. It appears that Welles directed a 40 minute adaptation of the 1894 William Gillette play titled, TOO MUCH JOHNSON (blimey they were raunchy back then). It was a film that was meant to screen before Welles’ stage production of the play, but he didn’t finish editing it before the theatre run. Since then it has been almost forgotten about completely, and after a fire at Orson Welles’ Spanish villa, it was thought the film was lost forever.

Luckily that isn’t the case as a new copy has been discovered in a warehouse in northern Italy, in a town called Pordenone. The George Eastman House has the honourable task of restoring the footage which is said to be in salvageable condition. The film will premiere at the Pordenone silent film festival on 9th October with a follow-up screening at the George Eastman House on the 16th. Hopefully this lost gem will soon make the rounds around the world. It stars Joseph Cotten, Arlene Francis, Howard Smith, Edgar Barrier, Mary Wickes and Welles’s wife at the time, Virginia Nicholson.

STREETFIGHTER star and Orson Welles biographer, Simon Callow, had this to say:

The great thing that happened to him on ‘Too Much Johnson’ was that he discovered editing, and began to see the possibilities. I suspect that at that point he suddenly lost interest in the production altogether and would have loved to have continued his celluloid self-education. He was a complete tyro, discovering a new medium and unsure how it would work.

This wouldn’t be the first time a film thought lost has miraculously shown up. The 1928 classic THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC was considered long-gone before being discovered in a mental institution.

Source: The New York Times

Luke likes many things, films and penguins being among them. He's loved films since the age of 9, when STARGATE and BATMAN FOREVER changed the landscape of modern cinema as we know it. His love of film extends to all aspects of his life, with trips abroad being planned around film locations and only buying products featured in Will Smith movies. His favourite films include SEVEN SAMURAI, PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, IN BRUGES, LONE STAR, GODZILLA, and a thousand others.

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  1. Pingback: Orson Welles’ 1st Film ‘Too A lot Johnson’ Discovered In ItalyCelebrity Blog | Celebrity Blog

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