Has there been a cinematic legend more unjustly poorly treated than Orson Welles? The man who helped make modern cinema with Citizen Kane — not to mention his multifarious achievements in radio and on stage — nonetheless struggled to find necessary funding, distribution or interest in its follow-ups, as the first trailer for They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead shows.
Between interfering studios and his appearances in gossip rags, Welles retreated from Hollywood and tried to make films on his own terms, to varying results. Of the several projects that lay unfinished upon his death in 1985 was The Other Side of the Wind, a mockumentary about an ageing director attempting to film his final movie — sound familiar? — which now, decades later, has been completed and will be released by Netflix.
This documentary, from Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom director Morgan Neville, chronicles the process of shooting that picture. It also attempts to set the record state about Welles’s post-Kane career, one which was far more varied and artistically daring than you might think.
His final directorial feature was to star fellow filmmakers John Huston and Dennis Hopper, who will no doubt make appearances here in unused material from the shoot. Along with archive behind-the-scenes footage shot on the set of The Other Side of the Wind (Welles often worked on documentaries about the making of his films), They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead also features newly shot interviews with Welles’s partner and collaborator, Oja Kodar, along with Frank Marshall and Peter Bogdanovich.
For fans of Orson Welles, this is an exciting peek behind the curtain which might even match the likes of Filming Othello. For those who only know the man by reputation (or, God forbid, from lesser roles like voicing Unicron in the animated Transformers movie from the eighties), this may prove to be a much-needed corrective to the particulars of his legend.
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead plays at next month’s London Film Festival before launching globally on Netflix on November 2 2018.