Orson Welles’ prolonged and arduous efforts to finish his final film The Other Side Of The Wind have been well documented.
The short version of the story is that Welles started filming it in 1970 and then repeatedly had to halt and restart production due to a lack of funds, a process he repeated all the way up until he died in 1985.
The long version of the story is told in the Netflix documentary “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead,” which has just been released to coincide with “The Other Side Of The Wind.”
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Even after Welles’ death the likes of Peter Bogdanovich, Gary Graver and Frank Marshall worked tirelessly to complete the film, which included screening it to the likes of Clint Eastwood and Oliver Stone in the hopes they might provide assistance.
The pair were unable to help finish “The Other Side Of The Wind.”
But Oja Kodar, who co-wrote the film and screened it for the pair, believed that Eastwood’s performance in “Unforgiven” and Stone’s editing in the likes of “Nixon,” “Natural Born Killers” and “JFK” were taken straight from Welles’ final film, and thus accused them of plagiarism.
I recently had the chance to speak to Marshall about “The Other Side Of The Wind,” during which time I asked him straight out whether he believes Eastwood and Stone stole from Welles.
After laughing at my question, Marshall responded, “Well what I can tell you that is correct is that they all saw 40 minutes that Orson had cut.”
“There were 40 minutes of the film, 3 or 4 sequences, that they all saw in the 90s and probably the late 80s. Because we were trying to get the money to finish the film. We went to filmmakers, we went to studios.”
“There was the AFI lifetime achievement award for Orson, which we thought was the perfect opportunity to drum up interest and money for the film.”
“Orson presented in a fantastic way, Frank Sinatra was the emcee, and we should the three sequences and everyone in Hollywood was there honoring Orson. But we never got a phone call.”
“It was terrible for Orson. We all thought it was going to be it. If you look closely you can see me sitting right behind him there happy as a clam, because I am in a tuxedo with Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich and Gary Graver and we’re gonna get this movie finished. But we never heard a peep.”
Marshall understands why those that saw “The Other Side Of The Wind” before it was released might have been inspired by it, though, as he insisted, “It certainly would have been ahead of its time back then.”
“I even think it is ahead of its time today. When you see the amount of story in there and the amount of ideas in there and the editing style, and the way it was shot and the different formats that it was in, these are giant ideas that he is throwing up there.”
“I think Orson was always pushing the envelope on the filmmaking language. I think he was always experimenting and trying to tell stories in different ways.”
“He never made the same movie twice. He was experimenting with the documentary style in ‘F For Fake,’ but in the middle of this he has this gorgeous 35mm movie that is a satire on European avant-garde filmmakers of that era. It is a very complex movie.”
“The Other Side Of The Wind” is now on Netflix.