Orson Welles in Italy

Orson Welles in Italy

Alberto Anile, translated by Marcus Perryman and Alberto Anile
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/25/2013
Format: Hardback 29 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01041-4
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Fleeing a Hollywood that spurned him, Orson Welles arrived in Italy in 1947 to begin his career anew. Far from being welcomed as the celebrity who directed and starred in Citizen Kane, his six-year exile in Italy was riddled with controversy, financial struggles, disastrous love affairs, and failed projects. Alberto Anile's book depicts the artist's life and work in Italy, including his reception by the Italian press, his contentious interactions with key political figures, and his artistic output, which culminated in the filming of Othello. Drawing on revelatory new material on the artist's personal and professional life abroad, Orson Welles in Italy also chronicles Italian cinema's transition from the social concerns of neorealism to the alienated characters in films such as Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, amid the cultural politics of postwar Europe and the beginnings of the cold war.

Author Bio

Alberto Anile is an Italian film critic and journalist. He is author of several books and essays about director Roberto Rossellini and comedy actor Totò. His last book (with Maria Gabriella Giannice) concerns Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard.

Marcus Perryman is editor and translator (with Peter Robinson) of The Selected Poetry and Prose of Vittorio Sereni.


“This is a path-breaking study that will be useful both to Welles scholars and to students of Italian cinema.”
 — James O. Naremore, author of The Magic World of Orson Welles

“Anile's carefully documented and illustrated chronicle promises to overturn—or at the very least, challenge—certain received ideas about Welles's European reputation by revealing that it was in some ways as checkered and as ambivalent as his reputation in the US.”
 — Jonathan Rosenbaum, author of Discovering Orson Welles

“Revelatory new material divulges the controversy, financial struggles, disastrous love affairs, and failed projects of Orson Welles's six-year exile.”

“Anile's Orson Welles in Italy (translated from the Italian original of 2006) takes us back to the invention of Welles' independent methods after the Second World War. Anile's research into contemporaneous Italian sources adds degrees of nuance to a largely mythical period in Welles' career.”
 — Matthew Asprey Gear, Senses of Cinema

“Orson Welles in Italy recounts, in detail and with great panache, not the beginnings of the myth of the slipping career but its first full development. . .The most interesting aspect of the book perhaps is its account of Welles’s critical reputation in Italy, the way he managed to disappoint and annoy authoritative judges on the right and the left, neither side being ready for what were seen as American excesses of visual style. Meanwhile, back home, Welles was increasingly suspected of engaging in un-American activities.”
 — New York Review of Books

“Alberto Anile’s Orson Welles In Italy is a key corrective resource for an under-examined portion of Welles’s career and life. Anile’s extended examination of the disjointed production of Othello alone—Welles’s only 'Italian' film—is worth the price, as it relates the frustrating, even maddening chaos in which Welles was obliged to work, and in spite of which he was still able to produce such a fine, inventive film.”
 — PopMatters

“[I]t is remarkable that Alberto Anile has managed to spot a niche that previous biographers have neglected. The gap in the record is the six year period between 1947-53, when Welles was based in Italy… It makes for a tale packed with vivid and intriguing vignettes…By focusing exclusively on this interlude in Welles’s career, Anile manages to capture something of the essence of his talent and personality—that mix of preternatural genius, wit and narcissistic, self-defeating excess—and something too of the fizzing glamour of film and celebrity industries of post-war Rome...The book is highly entertaining and at times illuminating, expertly translated and introduced by Marcus Perryman.”
 — Times Literary Supplement

“[T]his is a fine work. . . . Highly recommended. ”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

Translator's Preface

1. Arrival
Orson Welles: "Hollywood... teaches nothing anymore"
2. Pizza with Togliatti
3. Black Magic
4. Dolce Vita
Franca Faldini: "It was just an adolescent flirtation"
5. Citizen Kane
6. Life after Rita
7. The Fall of Macbeth
Alfredo Todisco: A Necktie with Dedication
8. Othello Begins Shooting
9. Scalera Gets Cold Feet
10. The Last Desdemona
Alvaro Mancori: "Every now and then he would shout, 'Traitors!'"
11. Blessed and Damned
12. Waiting for Othello
Tullio Kezich: "A maverick filmmaker"
13. Reviewing Othello: The World Premiere
14. Byzantine Timekeeping
15. Going, Going, Gone
Gian Luigi Rondi: "I have changed my mind only about Citizen Kane"
16. Welles and Rossellini

Appendix 1: The Italian Version of Othello
Appendix 2: The Opinion of the Catholic Center for Cinematography