From Citizen Kane to Macbeth, Simon Callow's brilliant biography of Orson Welles explores the breakdown of his Hollywood career.
When Citizen Kane, his first film, opened in 1941, Welles was universally acclaimed as the most audacious filmmaker alive. But instead of marking the beginning of a triumphant career in Hollywood, the film proved to be an exception in Welles's life and work. He found it increasingly impossible to function within Hollywood's system. Project after project foundered, either abandoned incomplete, or was released in very different form from the one he intended. Finally, in 1947, he left America for Europe where for the best part of twenty years he lived in self-imposed exile, occasionally and briefly returning to stage a play, make a film or shoot a television drama.
Hello Americans reveals the immense complexities of Welles's temperament as well as some of the monstrous personalities with whom he had to contend. At the same time, the book gives full weight to the almost bewildering range of his activities beyond Hollywood. The thread that runs through this apparently incoherent blur of activity is an often-frustrated engagement with his native land, its faults, its arts, its history. But by 1947, he had said all that he had to say to his fellow citizens; it was Goodbye Americans for two decades of experimental, innovative but essentially European work.
"Simon Callow is to be commended for Hello Americans, as it is not only the best biography of Welles that we can possibly have, it is also one of the best biographies in any field I've read in years" -- Sunday Express * Roger Lewis * "The research is breathtaking. The book is bursting with details, references and anecdotes" -- James Christopher * The Times * "Hello Americans is full of witty asides...As a biographer, Callow is a match for his subject in terms of showmanship, but he has gifts of analysis that eluded Welles... enchanting" -- Christopher Silvester * Sunday Times * "There is here some of the most vivid and instructive writing on the craft of movie and stage acting I've ever read" -- Philip French * Observer * "This is a bitter-sweet book: we say goodbye to the very best of company but we also look forward to Callow bringing that company back to life in his third volume" -- Tom Dewe Matthews * Independent on Sunday *