Long-lost Orson Welles film is found in Italian warehouse

Restored footage will be shown at silent movie festival to be held next month

Varigotti

A long-lost film by Hollywood legend Orson Welles has been discovered in a warehouse in Italy, and will finally premier this Autumn – 75 years after it was made.

Welles, who leapt to stardom in 1941 as the director and star of Citizen Kane, stopped work on the comedy Too Much Johnson three years earlier.

The 35mm nitrate work print was found in a warehouse by the staff of the arthouse cinema Cinemazero in Pordenone, north-east Italy earlier this year.

Until the discovery, it was thought the only known copy was lost in a fire that destroyed Welles’s home near Madrid in 1970. How it ended up in Italy “is still a mystery,” said Kellie Fraver, a spokeswoman for the George Eastman House museum of film and photography in Rochester, New York state, which announced its restoration of the film on Wednesday.

The actor-director had intended to show the film as part of the stage adaptation of an 1894 Willam Gillette play. There were plans for the Mercury Theatre, which Welles co-founded, to show the film in three short sections as prologues to each act of the play, according to the US film cinema weekly Variety.

Welles wanted the three-part slapstick comedy to be screened with music and special effects and even got to the point of editing it, but failed to complete the project. It has been suggested that Welles tussled with Paramount Pictures, which owned the film rights to Too Much Johnson, for artistic control over the project. It starred Joseph Cotten, who would later appear in the Welles masterpieces, Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons.

“This is by far the most important film restoration by George Eastman House in a very long time,” Paolo Cherchi Usai, who supervised the restoration, told Variety.

All of the reels, said Usai, were in “relatively good shape. But one was badly decomposed, and we initially thought it was too late to save the image.”

But Haghefilm Digitaal, a preservation lab in the Netherlands, was able to save 96 per cent of the footage. “I’d call it a masterpiece of craftsmanship,” said Usai. “Holding in one’s hands the very same print that had been personally edited by Orson Welles 75 years ago provokes an emotion that’s impossible to describe.”

The actor-writer Simon Callow who is currently working on the third volume of his biography of the film-maker, said:”The discovery of the long-lost footage from Orson Welles’ out-of-town production of  Too Much Johnson is thrilling; a very significant piece of the jigsaw of Welles’ art.”

The restored film will premiere on 9 October at Pordenone, at Italy’s silent film festival. Its US premiere will be on 16 October.

Welles, who won the best screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane, was also famed for his 1938 radio drama The War of the Worlds that scared many listeners into believing the Earth was really under attack from Martians. He died in 1985 at the age of 70.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas