Orson Welles famously struggled to finish his films while he was alive, so now, nearly 30 years after his death, Hollywood’s helping him out. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Royal Road Entertainment, a production company based in Los Angeles, had successfully negotiated to complete Welles’s final, unfinished feature The Other Side of the Wind just in time for the auteur’s 100th birthday this coming May.
What a gift it will be: Wind will get a better Hollywood treatment than the director ever received in his own lifetime. Orson Welles’s last film will not be by Orson Welles per se. But he probably would have been delighted by the way it's all panning out so that he retains directorial control. The film is set to be reconstituted piecemeal by two original members of the set—line producer Frank Marshall and star Peter Bogdanovich, a director in his own right (and Welles’s former protégé). The finished product will adhere to Welles's very detailed instructions; Welles, who worked for 15 years on the project, left behind 45 minutes of edited material and extensive notes for the remaining 10 hours of raw footage.
In his lifetime, Welles acted in commercials to finance his films, which sometimes stalled midway through as he pulled together funding. That was the case with Wind, which was also plagued by other unforeseen barriers to completion—a disrespectful producer who Welles accused of embezzling film funds, and a meddling investor, the brother-in-law to the shah of Iran, who forcibly took the film away in a fit of concern over Welles’s expenditure. Welles smuggled the edited remains out of Paris in 1975.