Orson Welles (1915-1985), US actor and film director, looking into the eyepiece of a movie camera during the filming of 'The Stranger', 1946. The film noir, directed by Welles, starred Welles as 'Franz Kindler', also known as 'Professor Charles Rankin'. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Orson Welles’ Favorite Film Idea Was Ruined In The Editing Room
Orson Welles is perhaps the greatest example of a director clashing with a studio over the artistic expression of his work — a fight that began after “Citizen Kane” proved to be a financial failure. While the film would later be considered one of the greatest ever made, its poor performance limited Welles’ creative control and often left him at the mercy of the studios’ requests.
Despite moving to Europe to continue filmmaking, Welles still faced issues over creative control, leading to what he saw as the biggest disaster of his career. Welles had specific ideas about how his films should be edited, but they were ignored. The biggest editing debacle came with “Mr. Arkadin,” a story Welles envisioned as a series of flashbacks that revealed various plot twists.
The film underwent a series of re-edits that resulted in multiple versions, one of which removed the flashback element altogether. Welles hated each version of the film, sharing, “It was the best popular story I ever thought up for a movie, and really it should have been a roaring success. I’d love to make that story again [...] it’s a super movie story. It was blown, blown, blown by the cutting.”
Aside from removing the flashbacks, the studio cut two other scenes from the final version that showed Arkadin drunk. Welles referred to “Mr. Arkadin” as “the real disaster of my life” and as a “flawed masterpiece,” and in one interview said, “The film was snatched from my hands more brutally than one has ever snatched a film from anyone ... it’s as if they’d kidnapped my child!”