The career of Orson Welles is perhaps the most singular in the history of cinema: at once utterly magnificent and ultimately unfulfilled. The fact is that despite (or perhaps because of) his protean talent, Welles didn’t make as many great films as he should have done. Indeed, after making Citizen Kane – still, arguably, the greatest film ever made – he never completely marshalled his talents as a director again, but instead often became involved with producing and directing a number of films simultaneously, to the point that he would struggle to complete any one of them.
Having said all that, perhaps Welles’s fate as a director is analogous with that of Joseph Heller as a novelist. When critics complained that Heller had never again written a novel as good as Catch-22 (the film adaptation of which Welles starred in as the preposterously named, and generally preposterous, Brigadier General Dreedle), Heller would always say, “Who has?” Similarly, if Welles never again made a film as good as Kane…well, who has? And that’s not to say he didn’t produce other treasures.
Here are his Top 10.