Passionate about Orson Welles, an American documentary maker is about to relaunch the highly uncertain quest for a missing film of the Hollywood master: the original version of The Splendor of Ambersons, which moviegoers have not heard from for three quarters of a century.
Director Joshua Grossberg has announced that he wants to leave for Brazil in the fall of 2021, where he hopes to find traces of this film. A documentary on this research is to be shot at the same time for the American channel TCM.
The Splendor of the Ambersons, shot in 1942 just after Citizen Kane, has become a classic, but in its version reassembled by the major of the time RKO, remind the initiators of the project. “The original shots that were deleted were melted down to recover nitrate during WWII”, they specified.
Dissatisfied with Orson Welles’ editing, RKO had dismissed the latter, cut 43 minutes of film, while adding despite the opposition of the director of the takes and a reworked end. But a working copy may have been in the hands of Orson Welles when he traveled to Brazil to shoot his next film. It’s All True, hopes Joshua Grossberg. These are the images he hopes to find and restore, to project this “director’s cut” (director’s version) on the big screen.
“The long version of Metropolis by Fritz Lang was found in an Argentinian museum in 2008, so it’s entirely possible that the lost copy of Amberson remains somewhere in Brazil “, he said, quoted in a statement.
Asked by AFP, film restoration specialist Serge Bromberg underlines the highly uncertain nature of such a quest. “Me too, I looked for these coils, which supposedly were in France, but they were not there”, he commented. While stressing that finding them would represent “the holy cross” lovers of cinema history.