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Born Today, May 6, in 1915 Actor and Master Film-Maker Orson Welles…

“I run a couple of newspapers. What do you do?” - as Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane

Over 115 film and television roles including Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons (narrator), Jane Eyre, The Lady from Shanghai, Macbeth, Prince of Foxes, The Black Rose, The Long Hot Summer, Touch of Evil, The Trial, A Man for All Seasons…

Directed and wrote the ScreenPlays for Citizen Kane , The Magnificent Ambersons and Touch of Evil… among many other films…

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Booth Tarkington (July 29, 1869 – May 19, 1946)

American novelist and dramatist best known for his novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams. He is one of only three novelists to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once, along with William Faulkner and John Updike. (Wikipedia)

From our stacks: 1. Cover detail from Mary’s Neck By Booth Tarkington. Frontispiece by Wallace Morgan. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc., 1932.  2.-3. Frontispiece by Clarence F Underwood and cover detail from The Flirt By Booth Tarkington. Illustrated. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919.  4. Frontispiece by Arthur William Brown from Seventeen; A Tale of Youth and Summer Time and The Baxter Family Especially William By Booth Tarkington. Illustrated. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1916.

Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton’s legendary partnership began in the mid-thirties at MGM under the supervision of David O. Selznick, but it wasn’t until the 1942 RKO film Cat People that their chemistry produced an original and highly influential aesthetic. Based on a short story written by Lewton and published in 1930, this cult sensation stars Simone Simon as a Serbian émigré in Manhattan who fears that an ancient curse has doomed her to morph into a feline predator upon physical contact with her lover. Though made on a modest budget with sets left over from other RKO productions, including Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons, Cat People demonstrates the ingenuity and resourcefulness of two perfectly paired visionaries at the height of their creative powers.

Watch a rare interview with director Jacques Tourneur originally broadcast on French television in 1979

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Magnificent Obsession

One of the great tragedies in cinematic history was the fate of Orson Welles’s 1942 epic, The Magnificent Ambersons, which was cut, reshot, and mutilated by studio functionaries while its visionary director was working on another project in Brazil. Sixty years on, the 132 minutes of the original version—if indeed they exist—are still the holy grail of certain film buffs. The author follows the making, and unmaking, of a movie that Welles believed was the death of his Hollywood career. By David Kamp

There are two great “lost” movies in the annals of Hollywood filmmaking, Erich von Stroheim’s Greed and Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons. Neither film is lost in a literal, vanished-and-gone sense—both are available on video, are occasionally screened in theaters, and are highly regarded by film critics (four stars apiece in Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide, for example). Rather, their tragic “lost” status stems from the fact that they exist only in truncated, bowdlerized form, having been wrested from the hands of their visionary directors by studio functionaries who were too craven and bottom-line-obsessed to cut these directors some auteurist slack. Since both films well pre-date the preservationist era of film-as-art-and-heritage—Greed was released in 1925, The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942—they have suffered the further indignity of being unreconstructible; studios back in those days didn’t hang on to excised footage for the sake of future director’s cuts on DVD, so the reels upon reels of nitrate film trimmed from the original versions were—depending on which movie you’re talking about and which story you believe—burned, thrown in the garbage, dumped into the Pacific, or simply left to decompose in the vaults.

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