Magician: Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

This is a lively and most entertaining documentary tracing the life and career of the master actor-writer-director-raconteur. It covers the breadth of his work as director mainly, focusing on the greats of course - Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil etc – as well as those troubled Shakespeare productions where he was always scrabbling for funds - Macbeth, Othello, Chimes at Midnight. Don't worry though, if you're a fan of The Stranger and The Lady from Shanghai, well, they're featured too.

His acting work is also covered – his sublime Harry Lime from The Third Man gets  a look-in as do his outre turns from Compulsion and Casino Royale among others. We also get to see footage from  a few of those projects he started but never completed, such as The Deep and The Other Side of the Wind (though the latter is to see the light of day at some point).

Contributions from luminaries and associates, as well as his two surviving daughters, and Oja Kodar, his companion for his later years, don't prove especially insightful, but then the brisk running time doesn't allow for much depth or detail. It's a very enjoyable overview though that pleasingly reminds one of his originality and talent, and for those uneducated in his oeuvre then this is the perfect introduction.

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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