A wildly fictional account of how Orson Welles learned everything about the Art of Cinematography in half an hour.

Or, was it a weekend?

THE CITIZEN KANE CRASH COURSE ON CINEMATOGRAPHY

By David Worth

Ship Date: August 08 Pub Date: September 08 Price: $19.95 US ISBN: 9781932907469

Published by Michael Wiese Productions Distributed by Ingram Publisher Services

CITIZEN KANE CRASH COURSE ON CINEMATOGRAPHY
THE

A wildly fictional account of how Orson Welles learned everything about the Art of Cinematography in half an hour. Or was it a weekend?

DAVID WORTH

TABLE OF CONTENTS
VIII X XII 1 FOREWORD by Bruce Campbell ACKNOWLEDGMENTS PREFACE: “ The more things change the more they stay the same” ACT I: THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD Welles & Toland / The Commissary / The Award / The Whisky / The BS / The Deal ACT II: TOES, T%&T, TITS, TEETH The Beverly Hills Hotel / The Brown Derby / Musso & Frank / The Roosevelt / The Suite / Camera / Magazine / Film / Lenses / 24mm / 50mm / 75mm / 100mm 49 ACT III: LET THERE BE LIGHT Pinks / Natural Light / Unnatural Light / Hard / Soft / Reflected / Key / Kick / Fill / Only Six Places 67 ACT IV: OBJECTS AT REST OR IN MOTION Santa Monica / The S.S. Rex / The Raid / The Pig / Blocking / Coverage / Continuity / Dolly / Track / Crane 91 ACT V: FRANKLY, ORSON, I DON’T GIVE A DAMN The Lab / The Editing / The Sound / The Premier / The Bar / The Exit 105 ACT VI: AN APPENDIX Cinematography / Biographies and Filmographies / Source Material / Tables and Charts / 130 ABOUT THE AUTHOR / Promotional
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WELLES ON THE RADIO / WAR OF THE WORLDS HEADLINE

ACT I

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD
The Orson Welles phenomenon that swept across America in 1939, after he had unleashed his radio play based on the H. G. Wells book War of the Worlds, was astounding, and the executives in Hollywood basically saw nothing but big box office dollars looming up on their horizons. So much so that RKO Studios more or less offered Mr. Welles carte blanche, even tossing in the unheard-of addendum of having “Final Cut” on his very first feature film. The additional perks, which enabled their new resident genius to remain
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deliriously content, gorging himself on imported whiskey, filet mignon, and call girls in the Presidential Suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel — well, this seemed to the RKO executives a small price to pay for having the Boy Wonder and their newly appointed Cash Cow securely inside their darkened sound stages, making them a movie. Gregg Toland was eleven years older than Mr. Welles who was just twentyfive years old in 1940. Over the preceding twelve years, Toland had amassed more than fifty feature film credits and by the age of only thirty-six he was already an Academy Award–winning cinematographer. He was considered to be at the very top of his game and was also thought to have few, if any, peers in the Hollywood community. Still, even with all of that experience and adulation, Toland somehow knew that if he attained this film with the “Boy Wonder,” Orson Welles, it would place him into another league altogether. Maybe it was because of the stir that Welles had caused with his War of the Worlds hysteria or maybe it was simply because of his age and the fact that he was the youngest Hollywood director ever. Whatever the reason, and whatever the cost, Toland knew that he had to photograph what would become Citizen Kane, and he had already resolved not to let anything knock him off course Toland had been around the block in Hollywood. He had seen and done plenty, so he wasn’t easily shocked. He didn’t care if Welles was drunk, he didn’t care if Welles took drugs, he didn’t care if Welles f#%ked every actress and actor in the Screen Actors Guild in front of him twice, he didn’t even care if Welles donned a bed sheet with KKK scrawled

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on the front of it and then whistled “Dixie” out of his ass. Toland just didn’t care, he would not be deterred, and nothing was going to keep him from his destiny. Gregg Toland was born in May 1904 in Illinois, Orson Welles was born in May 1915 in Wisconsin. These two Midwest, middle Americans guys, who were already titans of entertainment, Welles in the theater and radio and Toland in the movies, were about to join forces. The result would become what most experts on “The Cinema” still consider to be “The Best Film Ever Made” and most certainly the most advanced piece of cinematic art that had been created up to, including, and well beyond that point in time.

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Int. — RKO Commissary — Day Gregg Toland cautiously approaches Orson Welles at his corner table in the commissary. It is already after lunch and the place is nearly empty, except for Mr. Welles who is presently having his second rib eye steak cooked rare and is washing it down with a tumbler glass of whiskey, while behind him a tuxedoed waiter stands dutifully by. In one graceful motion Mr. Toland places his Academy Award down on the table.
Gregg That’s the Academy Award, Mr. Welles. Orson I know what the f#*k it is, Gregg, I’ll have three of those doozies by this time next year. Gregg I won it working with Willy Wyler... I should have won it working with Mr. Ford... and I’d like to win another one working with you, Mr. Welles.

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Orson Only three great American Directors, Gregg... John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford. Gregg I won’t argue with you... but I think that I can help you become the next great American Director, Mr. Welles.

Mr. Welles liked the sound of that; he liked it well enough to refrain from placing the next morsel of rare rib eye into his mouth, smile and unctuously gesture for the Academy Award-toting cameraman to sit down.
Orson Sit, Gregg... have a drink. Gregg Whatever your having, Mr. Welles, only I’ll have a double.

Mr. Welles regarded his tumbler glass of whiskey as though he had just been given a challenge, albeit one that he could easily handle and no doubt better.
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Orson Spoken like a true professional... Hastings...

Hastings, who gave the impression that he had been predestined by The Creator to fawn over the Boy Wonder’s every culinary desire, flicked a bit of lint off of his impeccable tuxedo, then adeptly poured Mr. Toland two large glasses of whiskey. Gregg immediately polished off half of the first glass and smiled at Mr. Welles.
Gregg Fifty films, Mr. Welles, I’ve already done fifty feature films and most of them were pretty big deals too. Orson Bullshit. Most of them were studio drivel and you know it. The only good ones were Les Miserables, Dead End, Wuthering Heights, and The Grapes of Wrath.

Gregg forces a half smile and then finishes off his first glass of whiskey.

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Gregg Thanks for giving me credit for four films out of the fifty... By the way I got most of my acclaim for one of the films that you apparently didn’t like, The Long Voyage Home.

Mr. Welles savors another succulent bite of rare rib eye before answering.
Orson Too homoerotic for my taste, Gregg... big men... on a big boat... big deal. Gregg And they say Mr. Ford is an SOB. Orson Do they? Then maybe that’s what it takes.

Gregg starts in earnest on his second glass of whiskey as he casually cleans a smudge off his Academy Award and muses to himself.

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Gregg It’s not all that complicated, Mr. Welles. Orson Oh, for Christ’s sake, Gregg call me Orson. All this “Mr. Welles, The Boy Wonder” stuff is just so much bullshit. Gregg That’s not what Mankiewicz says.

Mr. Welles smiles at the mention of his maverick co-screenwriter on Citizen Kane and gestures for more whiskey. Hastings never misses a beat as he silently and precisely refills the Boy Wonder’s glass, then turns to the Academy Award winner. Gregg nods and he also receives another brimming glass of the imported spirits.
Orson Herman, that lush... so what does the “Oracle of the San Fernando Valley” have to say?

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Gregg Mank’ says whenever he sees you prowling the various sound stages with your cape blowing in the wind, “There but for the grace of God... goes God!”

Orson chortles loudly, causing Hastings to imperceptibly raise an eyebrow as Mr. Welles then hastily sops up the succulent remnants from his rib eye with several pieces of sourdough bread, and not wanting to waste a drop of the amber sauce hurries them into his mouth.
Orson The old f#%ker’s probably right.

Orson pauses to swallow the tasty morsels, then he locks eyes with Gregg who attentively waits for Mr. Welles to continue.
Orson You want to shoot my movie, right, Gregg? And by the way what’s... “not all that complicated?”

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Gregg Yes, I want to shoot your movie... and learning how to make movies, Orson, it’s actually not all that complicated. Orson Fine. Here’s the deal then... I know nothing at all about filmmaking... I’ve got a big ego and a bigger IQ, I’m a quick study and I want you to teach me what you know.

Gregg leans back savoring the moment, weighing the offer. Then he takes a long, slow quaff of his whiskey.
Gregg That’s really the reason that I want to work with you, Orson... because the only way to learn something... is from someone who doesn’t know anything.

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Orson smiles at this young man’s wisdom and insight as Gregg takes another slug of whiskey and continues.
Gregg Cinematography, Mr. Welles... Orson... it’s like becoming a concert violinist... it takes a lifetime of... practice... of sacrifice... of dedication... Orson OK, that’s the “Life magazine” answer Gregg... Now cut the bullshit and give it to me straight... How long?

Gregg sees that Mr. Welles is deadly serious. He takes a deep breath, then glances at Hastings, who knowingly nods, then turns and busies himself with a bottle of bitters. Gregg guardedly looks around the empty commissary to make sure that nobody hears what he’s about to say, then he leans in close and whispers.
Gregg Two days...

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