It's All True (1993)
January 27, 2024 12:48 PM - Subscribe

A documentary about Orson Welles's unfinished three-part film about Latin America, narrated by Miguel Ferrer.

"My Friend Bonito" was supervised by Welles and directed by Norman Foster in Mexico in 1941. The lyrical, black and white sequence of the blessing of the animals is lovely.

"Carnaval" (also known as "The Story of Samba") and "Jangadeiros" (also known as "Four Men on a Raft") were directed by Welles in Brazil in 1942. Carnival was intended to have extensive Technicolor sequences. Brazilian legend Grande Otelo was to be featured. Jangadeiros was a dramatic recreation of a decent news event that had riveted Brazil: the dangerous 61 day, 1,650 mile journey made by four fishermen on a tiny, primitive raft to protest for better treatment.

The project was a co-production of RKO and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs that was later terminated by RKO. Essentially, Welles was bullied into making a film to help US/Latin American relations as part of the war effort, then when RKO got new upper management, the project was canceled, most of the way through.

Available streaming in the US on Kanopy. JustWatch.
posted by DirtyOldTown (3 comments total)
RKO and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs: Orson, we need you to go to Brazil and make a documentary about the people there.

[Orson films Black people at Carnaval, recreates the jangadeiros protest]

RKO: Not like that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:24 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]

While Welles was in South America shooting this, RKO took over the final editing of The Magnificent Ambersons, cutting over 40 minutes from Welles’ cut, and replacing the original ending with new photography to give the film a happier ending.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on January 31

Yep. They also terminated the Mercury team's production contract and kicked them off the lot entirely.

Somewhat hilariously/depressingly/scream-inducingly, the test screening that made RKO panic and start hacking away was overwhelmingly attended by teenagers. Literally, they were like, "What do you think of this Oscar bait drama, bobbysoxers?" and when the kids said they hated it, they decided to rework it, based on that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:49 PM on January 31

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