Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hearts of Age

[2015 will be the Centennial celebration year of the birth of George Orson Welles. This is the first in a ribbon of this blog's tributes leading up to the May 6th, 2015 anniversary day.]

Created in '56 and set in the 1920s, it is actually much closer to Méliès: stills become motion, motion becomes still again, then becoming revolving backdrops for the actors, for Welles, whose voice comes out of a beautiful blonde, and a handsome young man, and a middle-age doctor, out of everyone -- Welles the narrator rarely looking into the camera lens, but to its right or to its left. Amberson-esque tableaus, and docks becoming restaurants becoming libraries; and the tense of the story keeps changing.

"Fountain of Youth" can obviously be placed within the career-spanning Orson Welles theme of age. More important, it is yet another false step, false hope, an incompletion. Financed by Desilu in 1956, not aired until '58, this small masterpiece was to be the premiere episode of a sort of Orson Welles Presents. (At the close of "Youth," Welles describes next week's show: "a spook story with a seasoning of giggles, 'Green Thoughts,' about a man-eating tiger orchid" -- never to be seen or created.) Imagine. Let's say Welles directed 5 or 6, as did Hitchcock, of each year's 35 to 40 show output. Let's say OWP ran for 4 or 5 seasons (Desilu was at the height of its power): 20 to 30 short masterpieces as good or better than "Fountain of Youth." And let us say some orderly finds the missing Ambersons footage in a Rio de Janeiro sanatorium closet sometime in 2015 . . .

(Forgive the bad print and the even worse "Encore Entertainment" logo at the bottom. Still, it's great. And Joi Lansing ~ what a dish!)