Orson Welles Contemplates Movie Scene

April 12, 2020 at 10:57 pm (Biographical, Film, History, Movies, Radio, Short Story) (, , )

Orson Welles Contemplates A Movie Scene

The year was 1940 and Orson Welles was in the process of filming his classic film Citizen Kane.

It came to Welles’ attention one day that a popular radio show host was visiting the studio next door to where Welles was shooting.

Welles himself had been in radio as the voice of that mysterious figure The Shadow (whose alter ego was Lamont Cranston wealthy young man about town) from September 1937 to October 1938.

Welles had also been the host, star and narrator of CBS’ Mercury Theatre On The Air which ran for 22 episodes from July 11th to December 4th 1938.

The most notable episode was Welles’ October 30th 1938 adaptation and broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War of The Worlds which came across like a regular news broadcast and sent a great deal of the American population into panic thinking they were actually being invaded by Martians.

The popular radio show host in the studio next door was the host of a program that Welles himself liked and enjoyed listening to.

Welles summoned the radio show host to talk to him as he wanted the man’s input into a movie he was considering making.

During the course of the conversation between Welles and the popular radio show host, Welles told the man, “I’m thinking of bringing an old story to life and setting it in modern times. Do you think it is proper for me to do that?”.

The host asked Welles what he was thinking of doing.

Welles mentioned that he’d have one set of characters wearing expensive jewel laced wrist watches as they were plotting.

And a couple of other characters would be wearing the robes of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

The radio host said that would be all right provided Welles didn’t change the nature, essence and personality of the character who was the central figure in the story.

Welles said he would not.

The popular radio show host gave his approval to Welles’ idea.

. . .Β 

Welles sat down with pen and paper in front of him and conceived of a scene for the movie he was contemplating making.

The woman he was thinking of for the central female role in the film was a young starlet he had recently met called Margarita Carmen Cansino of Hispanic heritage who had recently changed her name to Rita Hayworth.

Welles pictured Margarita sitting at a table in a lounge downing several cocktails and mourning the recent death of a friend.

A man tries to make a move on her and she quickly brushes him off.

Leaving the lounge, she calls a taxi and heads to the funeral home where her friend is.

She walks into the viewing parlour where his body was available for viewing.

“Egad, wrong parlour,” she sighs and heads to another.

She races around the funeral home trying to find the parlour.

In one viewing room, she encounters a man who speaks to her in a foreign language.

She brushes him off and goes to find the funeral home director.

She encounters a man standing in front of her.

“You must be one of the undertakers,” Rita’s character says to him, “I was wondering if you could tell me what viewing room Joshua Josephson is in.”

The man said to her one word, “Mary.”

She then recognized him.

She then understood the words the man speaking in the foreign language had said to her in one of the viewing rooms, “He is not here. He is risen.”

. . .

Post-Script: The popular radio host that Welles had met at the studio that day in 1940 was Father Fulton J. Sheen (who later became a bishop and later an archbishop) who had hosted NBC’s The Catholic Hour on radio since 1930 and would host it for another 10 years until 1950.

The people Welles would have as wearing expensive jewel laced wrist watches were the Pharisees.

The two men who would be dressed in robes of Supreme Court justices would be Pontius Pilate and Herod Antipas.

Sadly Welles never made the picture.

Fulton’s one bit of advice to Welles in setting the Gospel story in modern times was to make sure that Jesus’ character was still that of “God incarnate as man, born of a virgin, performed miracles, died to save humanity from their sins and rose again from the dead on the third day.”

The movie scene mentioned above was totally of my own creation and speculation.

I do not know whether Welles had intended his future wife Rita Hayworth to play Mary Magdalene or not.

Or whether the final scene would be set in a modern funeral home.

Or whether Mary Magdalene would be looking for the body of Joshua Josephson (which is how you’d say Yeshua bar Yosef or Jesus son of Joseph in contemporary English).

-written by ChristopherΒ 
Easter Sunday
April 12th 2020


Mary Magdalene (portrayed by Margarita Carmen Cansino aka Rita Hayworth) with the red roses she is planning to lay at the grave of a recently departed friend.

13 Comments

  1. shankjoejoe said,

    An excellent Monday morning read. An excellent day after Easter read. Everyday, an excellent read. πŸ™‚

  2. George F. said,

    So well written I thought your were recounting actual facts.

    • Dracul Van Helsing said,

      Actually other than the movie scene in the funeral home with Rita Hayworth playing the part of Mary Magdalene, everything also I mention here actually happened.

      Of course maybe the movie scene is as Welles conceived it in my imagination happened in reality as well.

      Rita Hayworth was always the woman of my dreams as a kid.

      And Orson Welles was my actor/director hero.

      And the funny thing is I didn’t find out that Orson and Rita had been married to one another until my teen years.

      So Orson and I had the same taste in women.

      I always felt a kinship with Welles’ writing and filmmaking style.

      If he had died before I was born, I might have thought I was his reincarnation.

      I remember in Vancouver in 2015 (actually a lot of significant stuff happened to me in Vancouver in 2015 now that I think about it), I was watching on TCM an Orson Welles written and directed movie that I had nevet seen before called Mr. Arkadin.

      About 10 minutes into the film, I started imagining the dialogue of what the next character would say after each line was delivered (imagining what I’d say if I was writing it) and for the next 2 hours and odd minutes of the show, I was right each time.

      That really freaked me out.

      How was it that Welles and I were on the exact same wavelength?

      I still don’t know that answer.

  3. America On Coffee said,

    Beautiful

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