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(TV) TV as later-day Skinny Orson Welles / Just One! - A Verlaine Rant Dennis Miller Would be Proud of
I believe Cameron makes a very good point. There are indeed
striking parallels between the arcs of the careers of Welles
and Verlaine. They both were quite precocious in their
respective fields. Welles was often referred to as the
"Boy Wonder" in Hollywood; he was 24 when he made
"Citizen Kane" (CK). When the film opened it was
universally praised by the critics, but met total indifference
at the box office. Both CK and MM broke new ground,
changed the rules, and created a new language for film
and guitar-playing, respectively.
Welles was a real control freak like Verlaine, and Welles
(and Verlaine?) was difficult to work with-----his run-ins with
the studios are legendary. His 2nd film, "The Magnificent
Ambersons" had its original ending totally changed by the
studio (who considered it too depressing for audiences),
then had it reshot by another director. Welles was fired from
his very next film after only 3 weeks of production in Brazil.
Both spent most of their careers languishing in obscurity
(unless you count Welles in his 60s doing magic tricks on
2nd-rate talk shows or selling his voice to wine commercials,
and albeit Television has its soon to be short-lived reformation,
and TV has his Music for Films for small audiences).
Of course, there are some important differences between the
two men-----on both superficial and deeper levels. After
Hollywood disowned him Welles allowed himself to balloon-up
to around 350 pounds-----a state we'll never see in the
chain-smoking, almost skeletal Tom. According to his 1997[?]
biographer, Welles was a "switch hitter" sexually, whereas
TV------from all (what little?) we know about him, through this list
and his music-----is a blatant heterosexual (I'm not making a
moral Judgement on Welles here). His most recent biographer
claims Welles despite his genius was dishonest, ruthless, and
totally without integrity-----whatever we may feel about TV's
eccentricities and his "difficult-ness" we can't accuse him of
Charlton Heston almost single handedly revived Welles film
career temporarily in the late 1950s, when Heston refused to
co-star in " A Touch of Evil" unless the Hollywood moguls let
Welles direct (and act in) it.
What we need in 2001 to complete the parallels between
Welles and Verlaine is for a latter-day Charlton Heston to
step up to the plate for Television/Verlaine, i.e., one influential
and powerful admirer of TV, just one of the many musicians
with money and cachet, one musician who wields considerable
power in the biz, one of the many musicians (who we
sometimes read/hear about the MM list) who claim to have
been deeply influenced by Tevision/Verlaine, one of those
who talk about how much they love TV's guitar playing, just one
of these people step forward or phone Tom The Recluse and
use Television as the supporting act on their (next) multi-million
dollar world tour. (The Edge and others are you listening?)
From: Cameron Pulley [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2001 11:21 AM
Subject: RE: (TV) Re: Verlaine Studies / A better example
Scrap Shakespeare. That was probably not the best example.
Orson Welles, however, fits my point much better. Welles made great film
after great film. None of them made money in his lifetime. Despite the
praise he received from critics at the time, he found it very difficult to
get films made in Hollywood. By 1958, the man responsible for Citizen Kane
(which still sits atop the AFI's list 100 best films of all time) couldn't
get a movie deal from anyone in Hollywood. He eventually went to Europe and
paid his way by taking cameos in films, and making his own films on
incredibly small budgets.
By comparison, the man who wrote Marquee Moon (which is on its fair share of
all-time great lists) can't get a record deal here and now.
Welles had a number of unreleased films at the time of his death (The Other
Side of the Wind, It's All True, etc.) Verlaine has unreleased albums, and
lots of critical praise to go along with them.
Fame is strange beast. Today, Welles' legend is beyond famous, his place in
history (for right now) looks to be secure. In his lifetime, I don't think
he ever would have imagined that would happen, considering the way he had
been treated in North America.
Now, there are entire film courses devoted to Welles and his style of
filmmaking. Oddly enough, all of these events happened rather recently
(within the last 20 years).
That's not say that Verlaine is "guaranteed" the place in rock 'n' roll
history that he so richly deserves, once he dies. The "anything can happen"
notion works both ways. However, he might just end up joining the scores of
composers, poets, painters, who struggle throughout their entire lives, only
be canonised as soon as their gone.
P.S. Or Leo's story will come true. It was pretty cool, man.
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