[[caption-width-right:283: [-Everybody denies I am a genius, [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial but nobody ever called me one]].-] ]]

->''"You know, I always loved Hollywood. [[UnrequitedLove It was just never reciprocated.]]"''

'''George Orson Welles''' (May 6, 1915 October 10, 1985) was [[RenaissanceMan an actor, writer, director, producer, artist, young genius]], sometime StageMagician, and patron saint of [[LargeHam Large Hams]] and InsufferableGenius in popular culture. When movie scholars are polled for the greatest directors ever, the top position is usually either him or Creator/AlfredHitchcock.

A great showman prodigy, praised as a natural genius in his youth, Welles started his career on the stage because of his confidence, creating ground-breaking new productions of Shakespeare that revitalised the plays and challenged the rules of what could be done in adaptation. From there, he went to radio to do ''Radio/TheMercuryTheatreOnTheAir'' with a regular troupe. The highlight of his career in radio was his 1938 broadcast of ''Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds'', which was so convincing that people actually believed aliens had landed in New Jersey. (This story, albeit true, is often highly exaggerated. There were no riots.)

From there, he made his first movie for RKO Pictures, ''Film/CitizenKane''. He got [[AuteurLicense complete artistic control]]; he directed it, produced it, wrote at least some of it, and played the lead. ''Citizen Kane'' was a groundbreaking film, generally considered one of, if not the best of all time, [[Music/KanyeWest OF ALL]] [[MemeticMutation TIME!]] - so much so that it's created HypeAversion. It's very enjoyable despite that. Unfortunately, the film tanked at the box office, as Charles Foster Kane was thought to be InspiredBy William Randolph Hearst, who was still alive and better at maintaining his influence than Kane was. The Hearst press put a lot of pressure on the studios and sabotaged the film's release, and the film became OvershadowedByControversy in its time, though it was admired enough that it recieved Oscar nominations (and Welles won his only competitive award for writing the screenplay of Kane, which he shared with Herman Mankiewicz). It was VindicatedByHistory and ironically [[StreisandEffect people remember Hearst in a large part for his association with Kane]].

Kane cemented Welles' reputation as the EnfantTerrible of Hollywood and from there, as he put it himself, Orson worked his way to the bottom. His subsequent film, ''Film/TheMagnificentAmbersons'' suffered actual ExecutiveMeddling (which his AuteurLicense contract no longer covered) and his follow-ups marked a slow retreat away from the American mainstream. Welles struggled to make movies for the rest of his career, even a brief attempt to make a comeback like 1958's ''Film/TouchOfEvil'' led to ExecutiveMeddling and he remained in the margins of Europe and independent films. He already had other means to make more films, though; by the end of the 1940s he made his movies (very cheaply) in Europe with donations from sympathetic wealthy friends and from the money he made acting supporting rules in several movies. One of these was his famous supporting role as Harry Lime in ''Film/TheThirdMan'', and Welles himself wrote the character's most memorable lines. Some of the movies he made during this period of his career [[TroubledProduction took years to actually finish]], since he would only have money to complete a few scenes at a time and had to work around the schedules of the other cast and crew members. These movies never made much money (especially in America), but they received a lot of acclaim from critics in Europe, especially from the young critics at ''Cahiers du cinéma'' who would go on to form the FrenchNewWave movement.

These critics played a major role in helping to change attitudes about Welles and his works. By the end of the 1950s ''Kane'' was "rediscovered" as the masterpiece it is, and in the 1962 ''Sight & Sound'' poll critics voted it the greatest movie ever made - despite not even showing up in the magazine's first poll ten years earlier. However, even though many directors and producers in Hollywood now began to openly praise Welles' genius, they still refused to fund his movies and he continued to make cheap European productions. Today, scholars and cinephiles now recognize that this formerly-neglected period includes some of his strongest work. One of them, ''Film/ChimesAtMidnight'' (an adaptation of ''five'' Shakespeare plays centering around his recurring character Falstaff), was his own personal favorite of his movies. Due to copyright questions, some of these movies are not ([[DigitalPiracyIsOkay legally]]) available on DVD or Blu Ray in the United States.

His final years involved doing mostly voiceover work most infamously for a [[http://ubu.wfmu.org/sound/365/03/365-Days-Project-03-01-welles-orson-frozen-peas-spot.mp3 frozen peas commercial]]. His tagline in commercials for the Paul Masson winery, "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpj0t2ozPWY We will sell no wine... before its time]]," became a meme in TheSeventies. He was rather overweight in his later years, leading to many jokes relating to the fact that his final role would be that of a planet. What's funny is that [[http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Unicron his last role really was a planet.]] He died five days after finishing recording the voice of Unicron for the 1986 ''WesternAnimation/TransformersTheMovie''.[[note]]In that short span of time, he blasted the movie. "I play a big toy who beats up all the little toys."[[/note]]

Welles is a popular HistoricalDomainCharacter and a favorite for impressionists. Creator/MauriceLaMarche can do a spot-on impression of him. Has also been played by actors [[Film/FullMetalJacket Vincent D'Onofrio]] in ''Film/EdWood'' (with the voice dubbed over by [=LaMarche=]), Angus [=Angus MacFadyen=] in ''Cradle Will Rock'' and Christian [=McKay=] in the Creator/RichardLinklater film ''Film/MeAndOrsonWelles''.

!!Movies Directed by Welles:
* ''Too Much Johnson'' (1938) - Based on an 1893 comedic play by William Gillette and shot as a SilentMovie seemingly from 20 years earlier (complete with straw hats, suffragettes, and orthochromatic makeup although [[HitlerCam the director's influence]] was still clear), Welles intended it to be shown in between the acts of a live performance of the play to expand on the action; unfortunately, he found out too late that the theater it was meant to be shown in couldn't accommodate a movie screen, so it was never exhibited as intended. It was thought to have become a LostEpisode when Welles's personal copy burnt up in a fire in 1970, but a work print turned up in Italy in 2009. It was first aired publicly in 2013, was shown on Creator/TurnerClassicMovies in May 2015, and can be seen online [[http://www.filmpreservation.org/preserved-films/screening-room/too-much-johnson-work-print here]].
* ''Film/CitizenKane'' (1941) - Greatest movie ever made, yada yada yada.
* ''Film/TheMagnificentAmbersons'' (1942) - The follow-up, with much of ''Kane'''s cast returning. The only one where Welles does not play any role, but he does narrate. The studio butchered it. Despite this, much like Kane, it is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made.
* ''Film/TheStranger'' (1946) - A FilmNoir thriller he made to prove his movies can make money.
* ''Film/TheLadyFromShanghai'' (1947) - A really, ''really'' weird noir thriller with a famous climax in a hall of mirrors.
* ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'' (1948) - Low-budget adaptation of the Shakespeare play.
* ''[[Theatre/{{Othello}} The Tragedy of Othello]]'' (1952) - Adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Welles famously filmed this on-and-off over a few years, taking small roles in other pictures to raise funds for this movie. (One of them was ''Film/TheThirdMan''.) Won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, sharing it with the now completely-forgotten ''Two Cents Worth of Hope''.
* ''Mr. Arkadin'' (1955) - Imagine what ''Kane'' would have been like if Charles Foster Kane was still alive, he was asking other people to search for his memory, and all of it rapped in a spy thriller package, and you have a rough idea of what this is like.
* ''Film/TouchOfEvil'' (1958) - The last movie he made for Hollywood, and one of the most acclaimed noirs ever made. There's a famous joke about this given by the Welles stand-in in Creator/TimBurton's ''Film/EdWood''.
* ''Film/TheTrial'' (1962) - Adaptation of the Creator/FranzKafka book. Very odd stuff.
* ''Film/ChimesAtMidnight'' (1965) - Combines material from five Creator/WilliamShakespeare plays centering around the boisterous but cowardly knight Falstaff, played by Welles himself. He called it his best movie.
* ''The Immortal Story'' (1968) - His most obscure movie. Set in 19th century Macao. Available on Creator/TheCriterionCollection from 2016.
* ''Film/FForFake'' (1973) - Kind of a documentary about falsehood and illusions. Pay very close attention to [[ExactWords what he says]] and try not to get fooled.
* ''Filming Othello'' (1978) - A documentary about [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the making of ''Othello'']].

See also,
* ''Radio/TheMercuryTheatreOnTheAir'' (1938) - His landmark radio show that includes the notorious ''Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds'' broadcast.
!!His career provides examples of:

* AchievementsInIgnorance: The innovative style and special effects achieved in ''Citizen Kane'' partly stemmed from Welles' lack of knowledge of Hollywood production standards, which allowed him to TakeAThirdOption that others had long neglected.
* AgingTropes: A common theme in all of Welles' films is the passing of time, and growing old and how people look back on their lives and the time they have left.
--> "You ain't got a future, Hank. Your future is all used up!" - Creator/MarleneDietrich, ''Touch of Evil''
* AuteurLicense: Among film-makers around the world, Orson Welles is highly regarded for being the first director to be explicitly given this by a major studio. He was given an exclusive two picture contract for a certain period of time(which expired during the middle of the production of ''The Magnificent Ambersons'' hence leaving him vulnerable) to produce, write, direct and act on any subject of his choice. This then unheard of initiative, given to an industry outsider, at the age of 25, over experienced professionals created a wave of jealousy and gossip which in a way fed to the backlash against ''Citizen Kane'' even in the year of its release. That said Welles had the support of old hands like John Ford, King Vidor and William Wyler.
** The directors of the ''New Hollywood'' generation as well as the French New Wave, recognized Welles as ThePioneer for their kind of films, the goal being that every young director should make a film before they are 25, "just like Orson Welles."
---> "All of us will always owe him everything." - Jean-Luc Godard.
* BackhandedApology: When he apologized for ''War of the Worlds'', he said he was stunned that people believed it was true. He basically called them stupid. In the actual program, the show is clearly presented as fictional, the level to which he copied the style of the news program was just that convincing.
* TheBardOnBoard: Made his name in the 1930s with memorable stage adaptations of ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar'' and ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}''. After going into Hollywood he made similarly well-regarded films of ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'' and ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'' as well as ''Chimes at Midnight'', a reworking of the ''Theatre/HenryIV'' plays or specifically a {{Deconstruction}} of the same, foregrounding Falstaff as the major character rather than Prince Hal.
* BavarianFireDrill: As detailed in ''F for Fake'', Welles's first professional acting job was when he was touring Europe at age 16 and ran out of money in Dublin. He then entered the famous Gate Theatre and [[RefugeInAudacity demanded a part, claiming to be a famous American Broadway star.]] He got one. However, Michael [=MacLiammoir=], one of the managers of the theater noted in his autobiography that the Gate Theatre knew he was lying but was so impressed with his spirit that they took him on anyway.
* BigBadassBattleSequence: The Battle of Shrewsbury in ''Chimes At Midnight'' is considered by the people who have seen it, to be one of the greatest and most original of its kind. Shot on a low budget, it uses a cinema-verite approach rather than the epic long shots of the EpicMovie to show how in-your-face and gritty medieval battle was. This sequence inspired Kenneth Branagh's ''Henry V'' and Spielberg's ''Saving Private Ryan''.
* BigEater: ''Legendarily'' so. His average dinner consisted of two steaks cooked rare and a pint of scotch, and at one time he ate 18 hot dogs in one sitting at a Los Angeles hot dog stand. This undoubtedly led to his later obesity and was a common source of jokes at his expense, [[SelfDeprecation including from himself:]]
-->"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people."
** According to Creator/GoreVidal, who lunched with Welles at his favorite restaurant a few times, Welles wore bifurcated suits with fake lapels and buttons stitched on to suggest an actual suit. [[CrazyPrepared Every time they ate together, Vidal was ready to dial 9-11 at a moment's notice]].
--->''Considering what he ate and drank, it's a miracle [[MadeOfIron he lived to be seventy]].''
* {{Chiaroscuro}} : His films are famous for featuring this, and also different gradations, moving from subtle (Film/TheMagnificentAmbersons) to expressionistic (Film/TouchOfEvil) to the almost hallucinogenic visuals of ''The Trial''.
* ClockTower: ''The Stranger''.
* CopiouslyCreditedCreator: Wrote, directed, produced, and starred in many of his films.
* CryingWolf: A few years after ''Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds'' broadcast, Welles was hosting a patriotic radio concert featuring poetry and music that was then interrupted with news that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Nobody listening believed it until too late.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome : Orson Welles preferred black and white to color. And with the exception of two films (''F For Fake'' and ''The Immortal Story'') all his films are in that form. He said that black-and-white made audiences put more focus on the actor's performance, especially the actor's eyes.
* DownerEnding : Welles' refusal to pay even token fealty to TheHaysCode and its insistence on happy endings was a problem on ''Film/TheMagnificentAmbersons''. His films are generally pessimistic and dark, but done with such style that they are entertaining nevertheless. The only truly happy movie of his, is ''Film/FForFake''.
--> "If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on [[RealityEnsues where you stop your story]]."
* DyeingForYourArt: Redhead Creator/RitaHayworth went blonde for ''Film/TheLadyFromShanghai''.
** Welles himself thought nothing of burying his face and body in mountains of make-up in all his films, convincingly playing a young, middle-aged and old Kane(at the age of 25), putting layers of fat on his body for ''Touch of Evil'' (not his actual weight despite his reputation, he wasn't that fat at the time) and making himself look like the God Neptune in ''Mr. Arkadin''. The only film appearance of Welles without make-up at prime physical appearance was ''The Third Man''.
* EtTuBrute : A theme that Welles returned to in his films is friendship that after a time leads to inevitable betrayal. Charles Kane and Leland, Othello and Iago, Hank Quinlan and Menzies, and Prince Hal and Falstaff. On account of pure coincidence, this theme is also present in ''Film/TheThirdMan'', with the same two actors from Kane, playing more or less the same relationship.
** On a more literal note, Welles' theatre production of Shakespeare's ''Julius Caesar'' featured him as Brutus.
* FakeBrit: in his Shakespeare adaptations ''Chimes at Midnight'' and ''Macbeth'', though only for the latter where he put on an affected Scottish accent. He plays Falstaff with his usual refined voice.
* TheFilmOfTheBook: ''The Magnificent Ambersons'', ''Film/TheLadyFromShanghai'', ''Touch of Evil'', ''The Trial''.
* FilmNoir: ''The Stranger'', ''Film/TheLadyFromShanghai'', and ''Touch of Evil''. Although not a film noir, ''Citizen Kane'' greatly inspired the photography standards of what became film noir, being endlessly studied and imitated by [=DPs=] and film directors even in the 40s.
** Although not a straight-up noir, his adaptation of ''The Trial'' still makes use of much of the mainstays of the genre, especially in terms of visuals and character archetypes.
** Film/TouchOfEvil is regarded as the end of the Classic Film Noir period, since its visual style, and genre busting story completely broke away with so many genre and censorship limitations that the category was no longer necessary.
* Creator/FranzKafka: ''The Trial''. Still probably the best adaptation of a Kafka work. Welles himself claimed that the film was among his favorites, calling it a hilarious [[KafkaKomedy comedy]], though the film's ending has a TakeThat to the general bleakness of Kafka's works because of the RealitySubtext of post-WWII.
* GenreBusting: Orson Welles never did a straight genre piece (except ''The Stranger''), taking any genre from the inside out and sometimes creating new genres.
** GenreTurningPoint:
** It can be hard to appreciate how innovative ''Citizen Kane'' is. For one thing it was a film that used the best of Hollywood production facilities and craftsmanship to achieve powerful visual storytelling and use of sound, to suggest multiple layers of storytelling and psychological complexity. The narrative itself was highly complex for the time, generally avoiding neat solutions and not backing away from DownerEnding and criticizing America's idea of success. But more specifically it did this with ideas and conceits that was only possible with cinema. Visually and technically, it pioneered the use of Deep Focus cinematography which allowed action in the foreground and the background to be seen clearly, with the framing often creating a contrast between the same.
** Likewise ''Film/FForFake'' completely turned traditional ideas of documentary around, becoming the TropeCodifier for a genre that some critics call an "essay film" in that it somehow takes a general subject but digresses to other areas and interests and somehow still fitting into the context. And its all true.
** Some critics consider ''Touch of Evil'' a GenreKiller, the end of the classic FilmNoir.
** His Shakespeare adaptations, both on stage and film, were incredibly radical and ahead of their time in the way it magnified the subtext of the plays rather than a straight, safe, adaptation. Moreover his films are cinematic versions of Shakespeare, placing the bard's texts in scenes and images that are worthy of it, all through editing, set design and shot selection and never changing a word of the text.
* GrammarNazi: His mounting rage when a commercial director kept trying to make him read some awful, awful copy has achieved immortality as an [[http://ubu.wfmu.org/sound/365/03/365-Days-Project-03-01-welles-orson-frozen-peas-spot.mp3 Internet audio file]].
* GoldenAge / EndOfAnAge : A frequent theme in his films. Welles stated that the idea of a "Golden Age" was one of the great triumphs of human civilization and believed that the past was the one treasure everyone shared.
--> '''Orson Welles''': Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can concieve of such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit. That the imagination of man is capable of creating the myth of a more open, more generous time is not a sign of our folly.
** Specifically, ''The Magnificent Ambersons'' which was essentially the landscape of Welles' midwestern childhood, encroached on by the coming of the 20th Century. The sense of loss of the good old days was a bitter theme at the coming of World War II, where other films like ''Meet Me In St. Louis'' celebrated the past with NostalgiaFilter. This was one reason why the film fell to ExecutiveMeddling.
** Likewise, Chimes At Midnight, identified Falstaff as TheRemnant of what Welles called "Merrie England", an age of freedom and zest typified by TheMiddleAges which ends in the film, when Mistress Quickly notes that Falstaff lies in "Arthur's bosom."
** This also led to his fascination and identification with ''DonQuixote'' which deals with the same theme.
* HallOfMirrors: The memorable climax to ''Film/TheLadyFromShanghai''.
* [[HilariousOuttakes Hilariously Drunken Outtakes]]: "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFevH5vP32s AAAHH..!... the... Ff-f-rencchampagne...]]"
** Also, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V14PfDDwxlE this]].
* ''Series/ILoveLucy'': Welles guest starred on an episode helpfully titled [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin "Lucy Meets Orson Welles"]], which among other things referenced his love of magic and his infamous ''Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds'' radio broadcast. Welles was also contracted to a Desilu pilot which ended in creative differences between himself and Desi Arnez.
** In addition to this, Welles planned to launch his own TV show for which he directed a pilot, ''The Fountain of Youth'' which was produced by Desilu but it didn't catch on. The pilot is considered a cult title by aficionados for its formal inventiveness.
* InkSuitActor: Teamed up (as himself!) with Franchise/{{Superman}} in ''Superman'' #62 (1950). Also appeared as his famous characters, Charles Foster Kane and Harry Lime in Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's ''The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen''.
* LargeHam: more in his later years as a character actor. Welles in his interviews with Peter Bogdanovich admitted that he took roles that were lesser than his abilities to fund his directorial efforts, he preferred that over directing commercial assignments like ''The Stranger'' which he felt was more trouble, for him, than it was worth.
* ManOfAThousandVoices: Despite having a gifted, recognizable voice, Welles was an incredible mimic and impersonator. On some of his European films, when dubbing was expensive or sound was unavailable, Welles would dub his co-stars himself. Anthony Perkins on seeing ''The Trial'' couldn't tell the difference between the dialogue he recorded and the parts which Welles dubbed in.
* TheMentor : As a young man, Welles' school principal Richard Hill encouraged his young prodigy who even then showed uncanny talent in his stage productions of Shakespeare at 15!
** Gregg Toland, the cinematographer for ''Citizen Kane'' served as this for Welles. He had seen Welles' theater work and volunteered to work on ''Kane'' because he was himself an innovative artist and felt that Welles would try out new ideas that he long wanted to do. On the set, when the crew tried to explain to Welles that he was breaking normal protocol. Toland told them to back down because he felt that on his first film, it was more important that Welles preserve his instincts, leaving a [[ConsummateProfessional professional]] like [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure him]] to watch his back. For this Welles gave Toland a shared credit on the screen, something that was rare at the time.
** Welles always regretted Toland's absence on ''Film/TheMagnificentAmbersons'', the DP Stanley Cortez (who did shoot Film/TheNightOfTheHunter, and ''Shock Corridor'' later) was also talented but far slower and the lack of rapport between him and Welles delayed the production, a factor that led to the [[ExecutiveMeddling famous crisis]] of its post-production.
** Welles himself served as TheMentor for Robert Wise (who started as editor on his first two films, and would go on to have a [[SidekickGraduationsStick long Hollywood career as director]]), Cy Endfield, and in his later years to the likes of Henry Jaglom and Peter Bogdanovich.
* MissingEpisode: At the time of Welles' death, he left a few projects that were partly shot but never edited, and started shooting scenes on films he intended to develop. This includes titles like ''The Deep'', ''The Dreamers'' and his decade long back-and-forth shoot of ''Don Quixote''.
** ''The Other Side of the Wind'', a late period Welles film that was supposedly "96% complete" in the 1970s but remains unreleased due to legal disputes. Recent reports indicate that the rights issues have been straightened, out, however, and the movie will be finished in time for a 2015 release (in celebration of Welles's 100th birthday).
* {{Mockumentary}}: The TropeMaker, with his famous radio dramatization of ''Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds''.
** His ''F For Fake'' is a documentary with fictional elements and conceits which specifically deconstructs the claim and pretence of objectivity that the documentary form inherently grants its premise, insisting that anything edited, shot and scored to music has a subjective perspective. This aspect is present in the newsreel opening of ''Citizen Kane'' where RKO's own newsreel department helped in making the convincing, fake cheery [[{{Narm}} ebullience]] of old-time newsreels.
* MoneyDearBoy: The only reason he was in ''Transformers'' (or commercials), which he used to fund his directorial ventures. The money he earned from ''The Third Man'' went into the production of ''The Tragedy of Othello'' and Welles used this strategy to good and bad effects on all the films he made abroad. In his interviews with Peter Bogdanovich, he justifies this on the grounds of it being a SadisticChoice between being a director-for-hire on stories he didn't care about and acting for others in roles beneath his talent, he [[DoingItForTheArt chose the latter]] as he felt he couldn't devote interest and attention on a subject he'd rather not direct, becoming in the process one of the first independent film-makers.
* {{Narrator}}: Welles in ''The Magnificent Ambersons'' and ''F for Fake''. Also applies to many of the jobs he did for [[MoneyDearBoy money]].
* TheOner: Two in ''Citizen Kane''--the long shot into Susan's nightclub and the tracking shot up the ladder as Susan is singing--a four minute take in ''The Stranger'' that starts on a dirt road and follows Kindler and Meineke into the woods, and most famously the opening shot of ''Touch of Evil'', a three minute, thirty second continuous take.
** ''The Magnificent Ambersons'' has a famous ballroom sequence that remains incredibly breathtaking, for the variety of actors moving in the frame, the multiple layers in which the action takes place and the use of the sets and space for emotional effect, all in one long continuous take, a display of impeccable craftsmanship and meticulous planning and creative vision.
** ''Macbeth'' likewise had the record for the longest take possible for a 35mm film magazine(which can go up to 10 minutes before needing to be changed) which contains an entire act of the play, the murder of Duncan, complete with dialogue and scenery, unaltered from the play, and the action takes place over multiple layers in the same frame with perfect synchonicity between the actors.
** While the opening of '''Touch of Evil'' is famous, the scene Welles prized in the film as one of his best, is a long take where Quinlan in the course of a single take misdirects Charlton Heston's Vargas and plants evidence right under his very nose. Remarkable for the blocking (the movement of actors and positions) and the amount of action conveyed in a single take. Also the first scene shot for the film.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: His first name is "George". According to him, even ''he'' didn't know this until he was in elementary school.
* PlatonicLifePartners: With Creator/MarleneDietrich, with whom he often performed his magic show (and later cast in ''Film/TouchOfEvil'').
* PopCulturalOsmosis: For people who never saw his movies he is forever associated with ''Film/CitizenKane'' and being an obese cigar smoking bearded man who spoke in a powerful voice and did wine commercials, as well as the guy who fooled New Jersey into believing that an alien invasion was imminent.
* PosthumousCollaboration: Welles performed magic on stage with David Copperfield over a decade after his death. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaXjCfr5PA0 see for yourself]]
* PrettyFlyForAWhiteGuy: Interesting aversion; his production of ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'', set in a Hatian court invoking Voodoo and with an all-black cast, put him on the map as a theatrical prodigy. Welles was a progressive for his time however, and made the production with the intention of giving employment to talented African-American artists. Writer James Baldwin wrote in his memoirs that the production had a big impact on him.
** Welles also provoked controversy when he discussed on radio the case of Isaac Woodard, an African American war veteran who was beaten a few hours after being discharged from service. Welles' stance led to his effigies being burnt in the South and years later he cited this experience for his anti-Racist ''Touch of Evil'' where he played the racist police officer Hank Quinlan who hated Mexicans.
* ReCut: A "director's cut" of ''Touch of Evil'' based on a contemporary Welles memo of how he wanted the film to be is now available on video.
** Similarly, there are at least five cuts of ''Mr. Arkadin'' floating around out there, three of which are included in the Criterion DVD release.
* ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'': Narrated the original trailers for the film.
* ''Radio/TheShadow'': Welles played the voice of Lamont Cranston and the Shadow from 1937 until 1938.
* RomanticismVersusEnlightenment: Welles ran a middle-ground. On the one hand he was sentimental about the past, admired the concept of the GoldenAge and the iea of a dream-like past, but on the other hand he refused to write off progress altogether, and generally presented a GrayAndGreyMorality version of the conflict.
* TeenGenius / ChildProdigy : Welles is the definitive example of this in film history. He made Citizen Kane at the age of 25, and spent years before that changing the landscape of American theatre and radio with his innovative productions and was a workaholic of epic proportions. The failure of ''Kane'' at the box-office and the disappointment of ''The Magnificent Ambersons'' post-release halted this flow. In ''F For Fake'' he lamented:
---> "I guess you could say that I started at the top and [[HeroicSelfDeprecation worked]] my way to the bottom."
* SophisticatedAsHell: Welles admitted that he loved highbrow culture and lowbrow culture but hated middlebrow culture.
* ThoseWackyNazis: ''The Stranger'', in which actor/director Welles plays a Nazi war criminal hiding out in America under a fake identity. Although unlike most portrayals, this one pays considerable attention to the atrocities committed by the Nazis, notably being the first fictional feature film to show newsreel footage of the liberation of the concentration camps.
* {{Tragedy}} : All his films are essentially this. His protagonists are either TragicHero, TragicVillain, haunted by a DarkAndTroubledPast, or burdened by a TragicDream.
** It's tempting to many observers to apply this to Welles' own life.
* TroubledProduction: Most of the films he made, or unsuccessfully tried to make, in his later career.
* UnreliableNarrator: Welles was notorious for making up tall tales about his own life and background. Even the book This Is Orson Welles, a compilation of interviews between him and Peter Bogdanovich, had interludes and exchanges that were inserted by Welles for dramatic effect.
* VideoCredits: ''Citizen Kane'' and ''The Magnficent Ambersons''.
* WagTheDirector: Even when doing [[MoneyDearBoy paycheck work]], Welles still insisted on rewriting his dialogue, and in a few cases, directing his own scenes. This generally resulted in him being [[OneSceneWonder the most memorable thing]] [[TropesAreNotBad in the movie]].
** The most famous example is the "cuckoo clock" speech which became legendary among Welles imitators. Welles added that to the screenplay which was otherwise written by Graham Greene.
--> ''"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed - they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love and five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!"''

->''"We know a remote farm in Lincolnshire where Mrs. Buckley lives. Every July, peas grow there..."''
->''"Don't you think you really want to say ''"July"'' over the snow? Isn't that the fun of it?"''