Video Essay: That’s Just Too Much Johnson Welles!

Continuing my series of resource links, today I want to share a short video essay that interestingly brings to light the more humble beginnings of Orson Welles.

74-years after crafting a picture that tells a simple, subtle story that works brilliantly in capturing our attention from the first frame onwards, Orson Welles still inspires. And for many cinephiles, the greatness of Citizen Kane is inextricably linked to the fact that the masterpiece was Welles’ debut work. Even so, whether it was his first or thirteenth film – there ought to be no disagreement that it stands as one of the most arresting films ever produced.

Having said that, Welles did in fact have pre-Kane films.  The relatively recent 2014 surfacing of his 1938 work Too Much Johnson is an excellent case in point. Though somewhat rudimentary – we can see elements of the master technician practising his craft at least 3-years before Kane’s release. The work also does a lot to dispel the occasional assertion that Welles was a cinematic naif unschooled in the basic grammar of film. Oh, there is so much that may be discussed about this… but rather than bore you with my own verbage, let me rather introduce you to this little video essay by Kevin B. Lee on the whole matter.

Note:  allow me to add this – I find it absolutely fascinating that the surviving film elements of Too Much Johnson somehow ended up in an Italian warehouse before being acquired by the USA’s National Film Preservation Foundation! It is almost as fascinating as the man himself!

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