In 1934 a 19-year-old Orson Welles created his first short film Hearts Of Age, mostly seen by audiences many years later on home video. In 1938, to accompany his stage adaptation of William Gillette's 1894 play Too Much Johnson, Welles created three short films to act as prologues to each act of the play. Originally including live music and sound effects, and despite starring Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles himself, the three-act slapstick was never finished, and the play opened August 16, 1938, without the filmed sections. The film never received any public screenings, Welles moved on and the film was mislaid, and lost, later believed to have burned in a fire at his Spanish villa. Then, in 2012, almost 75 years after its creation, a warehouse in Italy discovered several film cans bearing the name: Orson Welles.
"Shot after shot you can see Orson Welles trying a certain camera angle -- trying a certain framing," says Paolo Cherchi-Usai, senior curator of the George Eastman House. "What you see in 'Too Much Johnson' will be fully revealed in that masterpiece called 'Citizen Kane'."
With remarkable history recorded by a man accumulating cinematic powers, sections shot in the Meatpacking District and along the Hudson draw a staccato adorning New York City cinema history. Fresh from its world premiere October 9 and subsequent screening one week later at George Eastman House, one of the film's presenters, Orson Welles' lost film project Too Much Johnson (1938), has its New York City Premiere, and third public screening of the film, Mon. Nov. 25, 6:30 pm, at the Directors Guild Theatre on 57th Street in Manhattan, with live piano accompaniment by Philip Carli. While tickets are $50 for the public and $40 for George Eastman House members, SCREENANARCHY readers are entitled to a special price of $25 by entering code: GEH. A report next week after the New York City Premiere!
For more information about the New York City premiere of Too Much Johnson and the restoration process, visit eastmanhouse.org/lostwellesfilm
Tickets: [use code GEH for $25 ticket price] http://eastmanhouse.org/collections/orson_welles_too_much_johnson.php
All images from Too Much Johnson (Mercury Theatre, Orson Welles dir., US 1938). Courtesy Cinemazero and Cineteca del Friuli.