A recently discovered, incomplete manuscript may give us more insight into the work process of the great Orson Welles and why he left behind so many unfinished projects.
The previously unknown document is the beginnings of a memoir Welles was writing titled Confessions Of A One-Man Band and was found by University of Michigan archivists cataloging new acquisitions that they had recently received for the University’s special collection of Wells memorabilia donated by Oja Kodar, the director’s partner of 24 years, from her home in Croatia. The typewritten draft contains numerous handwritten edits and editions and discusses topics ranging from Welles’ parents to his second wife Rita Hayworth to his friendship with Ernest Hemingway.
Philip Hallman, curator of U-M’s Screen Arts Mavericks and Makers collection, explained that while the unfinished book will probably not be published right away but it will provide plenty of information for Welles and film scholars.
If you think of it as puzzle, this is another important piece that brings us closer to being able to see the bigger picture. Having an opportunity to look at him as a father, as a husband, as a friend—you get to see what was happening behind the scenes, including the struggles and the missed opportunities and the agony that he was experiencing….
It doesn’t appear to be anywhere near a final draft, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be important for scholars or researchers. There’s a lot of evidence that we’ve found that explains why he didn’t—or couldn’t—finish some of his projects.
Also within the new material were a number of previously unseen photographs, notes he exchanged with his first wife and letters from other Hollywood directors. It should be several months before the new acquisition will be available to the public.