Orson Welles Couldn't Understand Why Alfred Hitchcock Was Popular

What words could we possibly use to describe Orson Welles? Genius, revolutionary, artist, passionate, and many more might come to mind if you only know about his creative work. That is more than fine, but if you do know about the man in front of and behind the camera, one of the words that probably came to mind was "petty." Perhaps one of the reasons why Welles has been able to resonate so deeply with younger generations of film fans was his tendency to openly criticize and beef with other directors. You don't get that chaotic energy anymore!

He was pretty relentless when it came to his criticisms, as well. When long-lost tapes of the director's conversations with Henry Jaglom (who directed Welles in "A Safe Place" and "Someone to Love") were discovered in 2013 (via The Guardian), they revealed Welles' private thoughts, both positive and negative, about his fellow actors and directors in the industry. One director that he really didn't gel with was Alfred Hitchcock, who he had a few choice words about in the recovered tapes.

"I've never understood the cult of Hitchcock," he can be heard saying. "Particularly the late American movies."

But why?

Even for someone as petty as Welles seemingly was, this revelation might still be a bit shocking. After all, Hitchcock is widely considered to be one of the best directors of the entire medium, so what could have possibly caused these comments? Simply put, he thought that Hitchcock was a bad and overrated filmmaker. In his taped conversation, he criticized the way the master of suspense's movies were lit, as well as made direct insults to him.

"Egotism and laziness," he elaborated. "And they're all lit like television shows."

Throughout the conversation, Welles directly references two of Hitchcock's movies. One of these was "Rear Window," the director's 1954 mystery that is considered to be one of the best thrillers of all time. Of course, the "Citizen Kane" director felt otherwise.

"I saw one of the worst movies I've ever seen the other night [referring to "Rear Window"]. Complete insensitivity to what a story about voyeurism could be. I'll tell you what is astonishing. To discover that Jimmy Stewart can be a bad actor. Even Grace Kelly is better than Jimmy, who's overacting."

However, it is Welles' takedown of his second least-favorite Hitchcock movie that might be even more devastating. Not only is it even more well-regarded than "Rear Window," but you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone that isn't Welles that doesn't like this one.

"'Vertigo,'" he remarked. "That's worse."