Blu-ray review: Around the World With Orson Welles

Orson Welles eventually became a familiar figure on British telly through his regular appearances in sherry commercials and the like, but this short series of six travelogues made for ITV shows he could easily have earned a decent living as a TV presenter and pundit. We see the director of Citizen Kane meeting Basques, quizzing Chelsea pensioners and speaking knowledgeably about Spanish bullfights. The undoubted highlight, though, is the episode devoted to Vienna, in which Welles gloats in undisguised glee over some of the city’s rich confectionary and tells a few favourite stories. This is the same laid back bon viveur and raconteur extraordinaire that was later to be caught so wonderfully in the BBC’s classic 1982 Arena profile. Throughout, there’s a pleasantly impromptu feeling as Welles fluffs lines without bothering to cut and then breezily moves on to the next ad lib (the series was recorded with live sound). The segment on Paris is a bit of a disappointment – it seems to have been cut together from library footage plus an unending interview with Raymond Duncan, Isadora’s crackpot brother. On the whole, though, Welles fans will be pleased at this opportunity to spend Around_the_World_with_Orson_Welles 1time in the company of one of cinema’s most brilliant personalities. 6/10

The series was shot on b/w film, and the transfers are generally very nice, with a scattering of grain but generally smooth, silky tones. 7/10

52-min documentary which explores the background to an unfinished documentary Welles made about a notorious murder case in rural France, and then presents a reconstruction of the piece. ~ 27-min interview with Bernard Levin, recorded in 1967. Even more so that the Around the World series, this interview shows Welles in sparkling form, running rings around Levin as he speaks articulately about American politics and cinema as an art form. Food for thought for any doubters out there who see Welles more as a showman and pseud than a genuine intellect. 8/10


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