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Saturday 7 December 2019
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THE ORSON WELLES DIARIES IV

THE ORSON WELLES DIARIES IV

September 1st, 1958

I’d been hired to narrate The Vikings, a rather tawdry swords and sandals tale starring my good friend and doubles partner Mr Kirk Douglas. The screenplay was ghastly and I simply couldn’t bare to utter a solitary word of the banal drivel so I rewrote the entire script during lunch and presented it to the director Richard Fleischer. He said he adored it , especially the running on the oars scene which I’d slipped in at the last moment for a giggle as I knew Kirk had an irrational fear of damp wood. Unfortunately when Richard presented my version to the United Artists board they insisted I cut the bloody epic battle between The Vikings and the House committee of Un-American activities claiming it wasn’t in keeping with the source material. I immediately resigned in disgust but after a bottle of dry sherry and some cajoling from Kirk I agreed to return as long as I was not listed in the credits.

I had a fine pheasant for lunch but the cherry and balsamic accompaniment was a little tart.

 

September 14th, 1958

My attempt to make a cinematic version of Charles Baudelaire’s exquisite work Les Fleur Du Mal has run into financial difficulty after I accidentally threw a hash brown at Jack Warner during a particularly tense breakfast meeting. Jack was insisting the dialogue should be in English rather than the original French so after an hour of trying to reason with him I was at my wits end and in a fit of pique I grabbed the hash brown and launched it in his general direction. My intention was for the hot potato missile to be nothing more than a warning shot across the bow but unfortunately it hit Jack square in the face. He immediately rose from his seat and angrily delivered a cacophony of coarse profanity before declaring he would rather burn the Warner lot to the ground then fund my picture.

Despite the unfortunate incident the English breakfast was superb though I do regret wasting the hash brown which I later discovered is something of a house speciality.

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