Truth and Lies are the beating heart of the cinema — as this “Preview of Coming Attractions” makes clear.
And here’s a very astute analysis of it by Benjamin Sampson:
F For Fake emerged from the edges of Welles last, unfinished and perhaps never-to-be-seen dramatic fiction The Other Side of the Wind
which starred John Huston
playing a very macho “man’s man” director with an open secret of a yen for the best looking of his male performers. Now who could Welles be thinking of? (cough John Ford Cough)
Anyhoo it boasted a cast that included Susan Strasberg, Peter Bogdanovich, Lily Tomlin, Rich Little, Lili Palmer, Edmund O’Brien, Cameron Mitchell, Mercedes McCambridge, Joe McBride and of course Welles’ collaborator and muse Oja Kodar.
Principle photography was executed (more or less) in 1972, so if and when we get to see it The Other Side of the Wind will be, quite inadvertently, a “period piece” about Hollywood in that era.
A couple of years ago you were talking about “The Other Side of the Wind” finally coming out. Do you have any updates?
Well that’s a very difficult saga. Frank Marshall and I have been trying to put it together for many years. Orson died in 1985 and we’ve been trying ever since. It’s just ridiculous. The problem is that a lot of different people own parts of it or claim to own parts of it. And so the chain of title is difficult to establish. But it keeps inching forward and we keep getting closer and closer and things fall apart again. It’s just a very, very difficult situation. I think it will get done some time but not in the near future.
You can see some of it here:
“On December 11, 1976, de Hory’s live-in bodyguard and companion, Mark Forgy, informed him that the Spanish government had, after lengthy negotiation, agreed to turn de Hory over to the French authorities. Shortly thereafter, Forgy found de Hory near death in their home. He had taken an overdose of sleeping pills, and within minutes of being discovered, died in Forgy’s arms. Clifford Irving has expressed doubts about de Hory’s death, claiming that he may have faked his own suicide in order to escape extradition, but Forgy has dismissed this theory.
Following his death, de Hory’s paintings became valuable collectibles. His paintings had become so popular that forged de Horys began to appear on the market.”
As the film makes plain Mark came into Elmyr’s life as one of those well-mannered, well-turned-out, Smokin’ Hot Twinks every gay man should have to make his twilight years comfy.
Elmyr is but one of the literal hordes of gay men who can be found along the course of Orson Welles’ life. No he wasn’t gay himself. He was that rarest of rara avi – the straight male Fag-Hag.
Among his more important gays there’s Micheal MacLimmoir, seen here with his lover Hilton Edwards.
And in the last film Welles completed in his lifetime Filming Othello
As you can see it’s an essay film like F For Fake. He also shot, but left uncompleted Filming the Trial in which yours truly appears towards the end.
The Trial starred a gay man whose efforts to “go straight” did not end well.
No surprise the above clips don’t mention The Trial, or Welles’ friendship with Perkins
But then they don’t mention Stephen Sondheim either
Back to the Gay Parade —
There’s John Houseman
And The Cradle Will Rock’s composer Marc Blizstein (seen here with his one-time boytoy Lenny)
Plus there’s the Orson/Oja screenplay The Big Brass Ring (rewritten and rather indifferently filmed by George Hickenlooper in 1999) which concerns a gay advisor to a Kennedy-like Presidential candidate. Welles and Kodar obviously modeled him after JFK pal Lem Billings
Next to Elmyr the principle gay in F For Fake is Francois Reichenbach
He is billed as the “presenter” of F For Fake (lovely moment where Reichenbach’s billing comes up – Welles juxtaposing Elmyr’s paintbrush with the “Death Ray” from Earth vs. The Flying Saucers used throughput the film as a visual evocation of Welles’ notorious radio broadcast of H.G. Welles’ War of the Worlds.
Reichenbach was a running buddy of ubergay George Platt Lynes
Though he wasn’t the sort of guy Platt Lynes took for a bedmate
He was at the heart of that scene. Being that he was heir to the Guerlain perfume fortune and a considerable bon vivant Reichebach was always on hand to fly the soigne photographer and his bevvy of beauties to parties in Paris.
Still Reichenbach’s circle of friends wasn’t limited by his sexual orientation. Among his intimates was screenwriter-director Danielle Thompson
When Reichenbach was in hospital dying of Guess What she paid him what turned out to be one of her last visits. As those of us who lived through the darkest days of the epidemic recall going to the hospital to visit sick friends was as common as going to the grocery store. Consequently one could sometimes forget what was really going on. Thompson did as she confessed to being shocked when Reichenbach brought up his plans for his funeral. “Well I’ve decided that I’m going to be buried in the family plot in Limoges” – which is the largest in Europe. Trying to lighten the atmosphere Thomson said “Oh Francois. You don’t want to be buried there. Limoges is so far. All your friends are in Paris” To which Reichenbach replied
And now to sing us out with a catchy little ditty by Benny Herrmann that I think y’all know, here’s Kiri Te Kanawa