My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles

My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles



The Pequod Review:

Edited by Peter Biskind, My Lunches with Orson is a collection of interviews conducted in 1983 between Welles and the British actor Henry Jaglom. Welles is grumpy and cantankerous, and is too uniformly negative in his assessments of his fellow film colleagues, but he has a number of intelligent observations. Here he describes Woody Allen:

O.W.: I never could stand looking at Bette Davis, so I don’t want to see her act, you see. I hate Woody Allen physically, I dislike that kind of man.

H.J.: I’ve never understood why. Have you met him?

O.W.: Oh, yes. I can hardly bear to talk to him. He has the Chaplin disease. That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.

H.J.: He’s not arrogant; he’s shy.

O.W.: He is arrogant. Like all people with timid personalities, his arrogance is ­unlimited. Anybody who speaks quietly and shrivels up in company is unbelievably ­arrogant. He acts shy, but he’s not. He’s scared. He hates himself, and he loves himself, a very tense situation. It’s people like me who have to carry on and pretend to be modest. To me, it’s the most embarrassing thing in the world—a man who presents himself at his worst to get laughs, in order to free himself from his hang-ups. Everything he does on the screen is therapeutic.

Here he discusses Alfred Hitchcock:

O.W.: I've never understood the cult of Hitchcock. Particularly the late American movies. I don't recognize the same director!

H.J.: He decided to become popular.

O.W.: Egotism and laziness. And they're all lit like television shows. About the time he started to use color, he stopped looking through the camera. I saw one of the worst movies I've ever seen the other night. Hitchcock's movie where Jimmy Stewart looks through the window?

H.J.: Rear Window.

O.W.: Everything is stupid about it. Complete insensitivity to what a story about voyeurism could be.

Welles's candor makes this book in many ways superior to Peter Bogdanovich's more famous interview collection, This is Orson Welles (1992).