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1940_02_03--27_How_to_raise_a_child_part_iii

40 (C Olltl n ... d , ... ", P ,. •• 38) him like tell thOllsnnd Ancient Mariners on one wedding guest. and hold him while he listens to their Martian stories. He cnn detect 1\ glitter in the eye of every strallgcr: from the nature of the glit.ter. he can figure to the split second how long it will be before the stranger comes over and opens a Marlinn conversation. Welles sees on noo.rly everybody a burning time fuse which at. & given moment is going to burst into a :Martian epigram or question. He is Il pathetic figure today. Out. in Hollywood there are four time fuses burning on nearly everybody Welles sees. The first lends u» to Mars: the second, to why he weurs a. beard: the third, to how he landed the most extmordinary contmct. in Hollywood; the fourth, to how he comes to be only twenty-four yanrs old . No other newcomer' s nrrivnl in Hollywood ever caused IK) much indig nation ns Welles'. It is diNicult to understand why. His benrd is cOlisidcrod lUI intolerable provocat ion , although Hollywood is the whisker capilnl of the nn..lion. with its assortment. of Vandykes. Burnsides, Dundrearys, Pi(.'Cadilly weel>ers nnd I-louse of Davids, which ac tors are Illwnys growing for l>eriod roles. Ordinarily, n mlUI could walk down the stroot. carrying his head in his hlll1(\, or drive a chariot. drawn by a gnu and an okapi, withou t. attrncting attention in the stunt-6nted cineml\ colony. But the picture people take Orson's benrd personally. Most of the columnists have foomed at. the mouth nbout. it. I t. worked on the feelings of the ellsY-b"Oing Big Boy Williams to such an extent. that he took out. 1\ knife and cut ofT Welles' necktie in Chnsen's restauI"I\nt. Th . B.ard of th. Proph.t Somewhut more understandable is the biLter resentmcnt. at the fact. thllt Welles Ims lhe nerve to be ouly t. ..... enly( our yeurs old. 1I 01lYl"ood lOOny is 1\ sort of Old Infaut. Prodigies' I-lome. During its first. t.wo dccndes. the pieture busineSll was rich ill child colossuses. Thalberg wns tremendous before he was old enough to vote, and i'..anuck WIUI terrific at t ..... enty-five. BII t the growing complexity of the business hll.8 mnde it. more difficult for baby genius to forge ahead. Da.vid SeJz.nick and Pandro Bermnn were around thirt.y before they WOIl the infantprodi~. · . y rating. It. is in the lIature of things that the supernnnulltod infant. prodigies and their cohorts should disapprove of IL fresh young infant prodigy. Welles' youth migbt. h:a.ve been condoned if it had not. been for his ex· trnordinnry picture contract. Probably more sere ..... bllll eontrncts have been written ill Hollywood than in the rest. THE SJlTURDAY EVENING POST or the world put together. llnd ordinarily the most fantastic of them attracts no attentioll. bllt the Welles contract hM caused 8. (urious war of words. I t provides thnt he should write. produce. direct and act ill the pictureS he makes: it pays him $150,000 I~ picture plus a percentlIge or the gross; it sti lndates that neither thcpresidcn t 1I0r board or directors or unybody else can interfere wilh him ill nlly way. No olle ill Iluthority over Weltes 11M the right to see the work until it is completoo. This would seem to concern only Welles and thepicturecompnny. but that is not the way H oll,Y'l"ood sees it. There it is everybody's business. 'rheidcn that such a contract should have gone to a. twenty-(our-ycllf-old clLrpct,..oogger Welles plMded thnt he \\'as interested· in other things. but. finally yielded to an incredible bid. Hollywood ..... anted him because his Broadway 11rodu6- tions, both the hits and the failures, been marked by boldness, origi· superlative crartsmanship. policy was easy for ow, because he had d&> . not. to go to until an idea thnt. in. He finally deeided that. his whole artistic equipon ll- film version of of In , a l>ostponcmcnt :a. thriller \\'ith The Smiler Wit.h Knife. Welles is the head boss and thegroon hand ill his unit.at. the RKO studio. In his capacity of new boy he s l>ends his evenings studying picture technique: M ,.,.,.f '". cl,la."1 .f C,..".,.. MUll, N . J •• fl." ,,, t.,. ... ,..f '". M .. ,.U .. "I, lot" W I III .. m D.e" . us, ..... 1 ,. ... d" '.1.11 II I. Uf. d ... ,.I,_ with a beard is considered n menll(''(! to the public welfure. The thing has 1* come a branch of Cal if oruia 's migra toryworker problem; WeUes nnd tho actors he hns iml>orted from his l\lercury Theater in New York are lookod 011 us 8. lot. of gilded okies. One einemn..-tmde paper inquired 011 its fronlreover pugc. CA." 11' Ilt~ 1'lIt~ Bt; Alm7 It reviewed the rather imposillg list of Welles' Broadway failures: then, by the sim ple device of clnssilying nIl the Welles successes us failuretl, it. guvo him 1111 urtistic rating of zero and criod out thut. sueh things us the Welles COli tmct were not. to be borne. Columnists o l>ened fire 00 Welles for everytlting that. he did. Lie was simultaneously attacked for being a recluse lind a 1>layboy. IiTld was chllrged wilh sTlubbing Shirley Temple. It was vain for him to protest. that he was growing a beard tor the purpose of playing a. !)llrt which required a beard: the overwhelming sentiment was that the beard was a deliberate act of aggiEssion. • ill his cllpacity of big chief he sl>ends his dllYs directing his night-school teachers. This is nil in chamcter. F'rom his eurliest inflillt-prodigy days Orson has always lectured tenchers alld instructed sl>eeialists ill their speciliities. For hjs6CCoud film, Welles wanted 10 mnke Pic kwick with W. C. Fields. but that grent actor was under contract else-where to pillY the part of Dickens' LhriceJ:" orgeous obi ruddy - ' duddy. Welles (ound himself eut.husiastic I\bout. lIollywood. When n New York friondnsked him about. it at the RKO studio. Welles pointed to the wilderness of cameras. lights. sound apparatus and otherengioes of tho taJkies. '- I t's the greatest railroad train a boy ever hnd," he said. The paradox ubout. make--believe tlilln most old-timers of the thenter. Stnrting Il.8 a t.wo-yeurold Belasco manuging cardboard actors, his subsequcnt. twellty·t.\\·o years have been mainly devoted to the study and practice of showmanship. I-Ie virtunlly turned his prep school into a repertory theater. After stock-complluy eX I>erience in Dublin at. sixteen Ilnd ro.'ld-show eXI>erien<!C with Katharine Cornell at. eight(l(!n, he reachod Broadway at nineteen, and crammed t.wo or three lifetimes of experience into his five years there. His devotion to the thCl\ler touched a high whcn he put. in a summer vacation writing a book on the dram:\ solely for his own instruction. AHer reading the book with grent admiration, he d&> stroyed it.. Sollie radio stars regard olle perrorlllllnce a week as an intolorable chore : \Velles hus done liS many ItS I.wenty-five a. w(l(!k in his spure time bet \\'een producing. directing I\lld seen&> desil.,.. ning Broudwny shows. Radio Flyin.g Squadron Welles WIl.8 t.wenty when. ill 1935. he s tarted on his radio career by ItJlpear· ing on the March of Time with a COli· densed version of PIUlic. a Illay ill which he had aoted on Broadway. He grudulllly becnme a member of a select. group of anonymous radio artists who shuttle nbollt. from station to station. tllking part. in many progmms e\'ery day. Crabbing every assignment. that. he could get :\t. fees rnlll.,oing from forty dollnrs to seventy-five dollars an ap... peurance. Welles wus earning around 51000 It week within !~ yenr after his debut. It is ollly by intensified chisel· ing und corner-cutting thut. the members of this fl ying S(IUadron cun get through their I)rogrnms: the hardest. 1111rt. of their existence is t1mt of thinking up alibis for failing to Itppear i1t. rehearsals and conferences when their d Rily schedules nre full of conflicts. Becnuse of the pressure of this life. Orson frequently looked at his seript for the first. time after the show had started. I-Ie didn't know whother he wns a hero or I~ villain until he found himself enir.1ged in good or evil deeds: 011 IIOme OCCtlSiOIlS, when he \\'US shot or drowned, it. clime ns a bi~,..ger sur· prise to him than to the audience. In a. way. this is the idenl techn.ique for mystery shows: ir the :tetor doesn't. know what is going to h!tppeo to him. it ought to be d illic ult for the audienee to predict it. When he slarted rehearsals ror the Negro version of l\ lacbeth. eUrly in 1936, Welles wus broad casting 01T lllLd ( c ... "" .. . d." P .... 45} \\" elles' e.'(lraordinary contrnet WIl.8 a triumph or the policy of being hard to get. Hollywood started nfter him tour years ago with ail ofTer of $300 '" week. It gradually raised the bid until it was about thirty times the original ofTer. Welles is t.hat. al though ouly t.wentyfour yeurs old , he has hnd a greuter experience in the world of W .II.6 ...... m l,.. 1 a •• " ·.' ~.~~'.~"w ; N •• ,., .f D""""ol • . I,. add'U.,. ,. bol". "III., I " .,,'e .. ,.t ld. II . II allo t il. P,.OP.,." me". N. , ,


1940_02_03--27_How_to_raise_a_child_part_iii
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