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The Best of 2009: 'Me and Orson Welles'

Me and Orson Welles


Elegant and wonderful, this is the story of Orson Welles' first big Broadway production (his notable Nazi Germany/Mussolini Italy influenced take on Julius Caesar) and the people surrounding its development. One of these people is a young man named Richard Samuels who stumbles upon Welles' fledgling Mercury Theatre, and within a few seconds, won the coveted role of Lucius just because he entertained Welles for less than 5 minutes outside the door. I can not seem to find any information on a Richard Samuels on Wikipedia or Welles related websites, so I am not sure if this was a fictional character created as a "tour guide" through the Mercury Theatre in 1937 or an actual person who spent one eventful week with the historical director. Whether he is fictional or not, Samuels is an interesting enough guy to follow.

Zac Efron does a good enough job in the role that he did keep me intrigued for a good enough length of time, and I thought this was impressive for a very young actor that most would label as just another pretty boy. Claire Danes seems to get better and better as an actress as time goes on as she proves in this piece. I was thoroughly impressed with the casting of Eddie Marsan as actor/producer John Houseman and especially James Tupper as Welles' long time acting collaborator and friend Joseph Cotten who looked and sounded just the leading man. Of course, the real show stealer is Christian McKay as Mr. Welles. He captures the bravado, depth, energy, and perfectionism of the late artist to a tee.

Welles himself would have found the tyrannical take on him a little unnerving, but likely would have been tickled by the fact that people were even listening to him at AGE 23! I think this film is further proof that one film can not encompass all that was Orson Welles since other films have detailed his specific projects ala RKO 281 about the making of Citizen Kane and a few detailing The War of the Worlds radio phenomenon. Christian McKay offers, in the opinion of this Orson Welles fan, the closest depiction of the icon. No one else could or can be Orson Welles, but one still has to applaud the actor and the filmmakers of this little number. Any film about Welles' life is bound to be an interesting one.