Orson Welles

T. alt.: Viva Italia. Scen.: Orson Welles. Int.: Gina Lollobrigida, Orson Welles, Vittorio De Sica, Rossano Brazzi, Anna Gruber, Paola Mori (se stessi). Prod.: Leonard H. Goldenson per ABC · 35mm. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Portrait of Gina (or Viva Italia, both titles created posthumously by distributors) is one of the many incomplete films by Welles discovered after his death. With a desire to recapture the pioneering role that radio had twenty years earlier, Welles multiplied his efforts in the 1950s to make a space for himself in television both with documentaries and fictional work. Between filming Mr. Arkadin (1954-1955) and Touch of Evil (1957) Welles had directed for commercial English television Around the World with Orson Welles, a series of travelogues shot in different European countries. Once back in Italy at the beginning of 1958, Welles convinced American television channel ABC to commission a new series, Orson Welles at Large, the first episode of which was to be a portrait of Italy with a focus on the actress Gina Lollobrigida. The film is a fragile patchwork of scenes unified only by the commentary of Welles, who is simultaneously field reporter and program host. Most of all, it is a self-portrait of Welles himself. He skillfully manipulates the answers of the people he interviews so that all of them, from Rossano Brazzi to Vittorio De Sica or Gina Lollobrigida, appear to demonstrate the difficulty of receiving recognition for their talent in their own country. Rejected by ABC, the documentary was never broadcast, and the series was abandoned. Long believed to be lost, the film was discovered thirty years later in a trunk that Welles had left behind at the Hotel Ritz in Paris. It was screened in 1986 at the Venice Film Festival, but Gina Lollobrigida, who was unhappy with the film, had all further screenings of it banned.

Jean-Pierre Berthomé