NOTE NEW LOCATION: At the Laemmle’s Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Tickets, $20. Parking on Doheny Drive, in the lot just south of Wilshire on the east side of the street. Enjoy the many bars and restaurants nearby before or after the program.
It would be natural to think that if Orson Welles knew that he would die one day, he might not have dished so candidly over regular lunches with filmmaker Henry Jaglom. Clearly, he simply didn’t care—drama was, after all, Orson Welles’ game. And provocation his passion. In any case, Jaglom recorded his weekly lunch meetings at Ma Maison with Welles. Welles not only knew that Jaglom recorded the sessions—he asked him to tape the conversations, but to keep the recorder out of sight. Film historian Peter Biskind has dusted these taped conversations off, edited them, and given us context for some extraordinary exchanges between the giant who was Orson Welles, a genius who was considered America’s greatest filmmaker, but who in later years couldn’t gather the financing for his projects. Politically incorrect doesn’t come close to what these conversations are. But they are revelatory about an American icon and his view of the world.
Jaglom tried to resurrect Welles’ post Citizen Kane career, which had suffered due to a series of financial box office flops. Hollywood’s A List, however, who professed to love and admire him, never showed up with money to back him. Welles did agree to do a film with Jaglom, and Jaglom’s account of how he got Welles to appear in his film, Someone to Love, is pretty marvelous. In these conversations, Welles talks politics, gossip, women, religion, and the business of getting through the day. His friendships with the cultural and political greats of the 20th century include FDR and Churchill, to name a few, and his political opinions were as outsized as his clothes. Welles covers everything from German collaborators during World War II to his onetime girlfriend, Marilyn Monroe. He blithely rips apart some of our beloved actors (clearly not beloved to him), while wondering why some just couldn’t warm up to him. These conversations reveal so much about one of our almost mythic auteurs, who advised Jaglom to “never compromise, because those compromises are going to haunt you for the rest of your life.” In Jaglom’s fiercely independent films, we see that he lives by that law still.
Peter Biskind is a film historian whose books include Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood; Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America, and his new book, My Lunches With Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles. Henry Jaglom is an American independent filmmaker, whose numerous films include A Safe Place; Can She Bake a Cherry Pie; Someone to Love; Eating; and so many more. Read an excerpt from My Lunches with Orson in New York Magazine, and you’ll see why this program will be so terrific. For tickets, click here.
NOTE NEW LOCATION: At the Laemmle’s Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Tickets, $20. Parking available in lot on Doheny Drive, just south of Wilshire.