THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND – Review by Susan Granger

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When legendary filmmaker Orson Welles (Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil) died in 1985, he left this unfinished film, which he’d worked on intermittently between 1970 and 1976. It’s been called the most famous movie that was never released.

The concept revolves around a 70th birthday celebration for a celebrated but notoriously hard-drinking, game-hunting filmmaker, macho Jake Hannaford (John Huston) and his complex relationship with an overeager young protégé, Brooks Otterlake (Peter Bogdanovich) – which mirrors Welles’ own bond with Bogdanovich.

Set at the sprawling desert home of actress Zarah Valenska (Lilli Palmer), it’s peppered with appearances by Mercedes McCambridge, Paul Stewart, Edmond O’Brien, Dennis Hopper, Paul Mazursky, Henry Jaglom and Claude Chabrol, plus a Pauline Kael-like film critic played by Susan Strasberg. The debauchery is punctuated by clips from Hannaford’s uncompleted comeback movie.

Co-written by Welles and his longtime lover, Croatian-born actress Oja Kodar, this satirically raunchy, politically incorrect movie-within-a-movie stars Ms. Kodar as a nude Native American woman – whom Hannaford calls “Pocahontas” – and hunky Robert Random; their sex-in-a-speeding-Mustang scene is among Welles’ most memorable.

Producers Frank Marshall and Filip Jan Rymsza raised funds to patch together and complete Welles’ work, sorting through more than 100 hours of footage that was stored in a Paris warehouse, wrapped and boxed into eight pallets and shipped to the Technicolor offices in Hollywood.

The result is an episodic hodge-podge of black-and-white footage, mixed with color, shot in various formats: 35 millimeter, 16 millimeter and Super 8 – set to Michel Legrand’s jazzy score

According to Marshall: “No one really knew if we had enough material to put together a movie that actually made any sense.”

Eventually, the narrative settles on a key line of dialogue, “Your guy’s a big, pink lobster,” revealing Hannaford’s tough-guy protagonist is hard on the outside, yet soft on the inside.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Other Side of the Wind is a salvaged 6, a chaotic, cinematic curiosity for avid film buffs, streaming on Netflix.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.