Saturday, September 5, 2015

1938 - TOO MUCH JOHNSON, the lost Orson Welles sort of silent film comedy.

Not a whole lot to say about this one.  Probably for Orson Welles fans only.  Welles was interested in doing a farce and had the idea to stage silent movie like scenes in between or during acts of the play Too Much Johnson.

Welles filmed for 10 days and edited the film.  Apparently the entire film part of the play was to run around 30 minutes.  Due to a number of reasons, most of which involved money,  the film sequences were never shown with the play.   Too Much Johnson was not a theatrical success.  However the idea of merging film and theater while not a new one was another typically audacious one from Welles.

Young Welles directs Too Much Johnson
Welles lifelong friend actor Joseph Cotton was certainly game during the film sequences.  Running around, climbing up on rooftops, zipping down fire escapes.  He certainly went beyond the call of duty when it came to performing for Welles.

Too Much Johnson is proof that Orson Welles was exposed to filming and editing 3 years before Citizen Kane came out.  Welles always portrayed himself has a self taught filmmaker who just magically stepped on a sound stage and produced a masterpiece like Kane.  Finally, it should be noted that this edited version of Too Much Johnson is quite delightful.  Welles was apparently a great admirer of silent films.

66 minutes (edited down around 30 minutes)

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