Picture Orson Welles, the director of Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil, scrounging for money, filming in rented houses, and lying his way onto shooting locations, spending more than a decade trying to get a movie made. The saga of Welles’ last (and as yet unreleased) movie, The Other Side of the Wind, is an often-shocking portrait of a great artist on his last creative legs. Karp, who pieced together the story from interviews with some of the people involved in the movie’s production (which spanned the 1970s) and various other sources, charts the course of the movie from its early days as Welles’ would-be comeback vehicle; through its difficult, on-again, off-again production; to its rather dismal fate as an unfinished might-have-been. The text also charts the course of the end of Welles’ life, as his declining health and his frustrations at not being able to get his movie made without begging for money and equipment took their toll on him. A fascinating story, much more than your typical making-of book.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, March 2015.