Orson Welles at 100

  • December 12, 2015 — January 3, 2016

The late film scholar Gilberto Perez referred to Orson Welles as “a director with an immediately recognizable style if there ever was one.” Perhaps no other filmmaker, with the exception of Alfred Hitchcock or Stanley Kubrick, has been as globally discussed by film critics and connoisseurs. Welles’ films—many of which were made under considerable scrutiny and now precariously exist in contested multiple versions—remain enduring cinematic pleasures of the highest order.

On the occasion of his centennial year, the Northwest Film Center offers a primer of Welles’ work. While it proudly features some of his most lauded masterpieces, the series also dives deeper into some of Welles’ lesser-known work, as well as a handful of films he acted in and sometimes surreptitiously produced and directed. In grasping to capture Welles’ allure, film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum’s reflection speaks for many cinema lovers: “Though I wouldn’t necessarily call him my favorite, he remains the most fascinating for me, both due to the sheer size of his talent, and the ideological force of his work and his working methods…a major part of Welles’ talent as a filmmaker consisted of his refusal to repeat himself—a compulsion to keep moving creatively that consistently worked against his credentials as a ‘bankable’ director, if only because banks rely on known quantities rather than on experiments.”


Citizen Kane

Directed by Orson Welles

Routinely voted—by critics, scholars, and filmmakers—as one of the best films ever made, Citizen Kane is many things at once:


The Magnificent Ambersons

Directed by Orson Welles

Following the success of Citizen Kane, Welles embarked upon one of the most famously disastrous productions of the 1940s. The


Journey Into Fear

Directed by Orson Welles

Packed to the gills with his Mercury Theatre players, Journey into Fear is a Welles product through-and-through (though it was

Jane Eyre 2

Jayne Eyre

Directed by Robert Stevenson

Charlotte Brönte’s gothic 1847 novel about a penniless girl’s resolute journey through life stars Welles as the mysterious, brooding Edward

The Third Man 1

The Third Man

Directed by Carol Reed

Pulp novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) travels to shadowy postwar Vienna at the invitation of an old friend, black-market opportunist

Lady from Shanghai 4

The Lady From Shanghai

Directed by Orson Welles

Here writer/director Welles smolders alongside bombshell Rita Hayworth (Welles’ second wife) in a wildly stylish film noir that was years

Macbeth 3


Directed by Orson Welles

Welles’ passion project was made at the scrappy Republic Pictures on discarded lots previously used for Roy Rogers Westerns. At


Black Magic

Directed by George Ratoff

Meteoric rise and precipitous fall—hallmarks of Welles’ work, especially in the 1940s—are given the magical treatment in Black Magic, an

Othello 1


Directed by Orson Welles

Among Welles’ finished films, Othello has one of the most troubled production histories. Financed largely out-of-pocket and shot intermittently over

The Stranger 3

The Stranger

Directed by Orson Welles

Welles’ post-war thriller tackles Nazism head-on as UN War Crimes Inspector Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) searches for Welles’ fugitive Franz

Touch of Evil 2

Touch of Evil

Directed by Orson Welles

Celebrated as one of the greatest film noirs ever made, Welles’ mid-career morality tale sees him writing, directing, and starring

confidential report 1

Confidential Report AKA Mr. Aradkin

Directed by Orson Welles

Bearing key similarities to The Third Man, Welles’ noir concerns small-time smuggler Guy Van Stratten (Robert Arden), who overhears a

Compulsion 1


Directed by Richard Fleischer

If anyone was born to play a high-powered, world-weary lawyer defending two murderers against the death penalty, it was Orson

The Trial 4

The Trial

Directed by Orson Welles

Welles translates one of Franz Kafka’s best-known literary works into a disorienting black-and-white cinematic world of crime and punishment. After

MAGICIAN - 2014 FILM STILL - Orson Welles - Photo Credit: Cohen Media Group

Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles

Directed by Chuck Workman

“Oscar-winner Chuck Workman’s (famed for his Academy Award clip montages and iconic trailers) impressive, comprehensive documentary tells the tragic, extraordinary


Chimes at Midnight AKA Fallstaff

Directed by Orson Welles

His third “finished” Shakespeare adaptation, Chimes at Midnight, sees Welles dulling his edges a bit in offering up a highly

f for fake 3

F for Fake

Directed by Orson Welles

F for Fake, a pseudo-documentary revolving around the shadowy world of art forgery, sees Welles at his most globe-trotting and


The Immortal Story

Directed by Orson Welles

Welles’ first color film—significant considering the development of scores of color processes since the 1920s—tells the story of Clay (Welles),