Lost Orson Welles Film to Premiere in October

Orson Welles' Too Much Johnson
A scene from Orson Welles' 'Too Much Johnson'
An Orson Welles film thought to have been lost forever has been restored by the George Eastman House and will have its world premiere October 9, 2013 during the La Giornate del Cinema Muto (the first film festival of silent cinema). Welles’ 1938 movie Too Much Johnson, which was never shown to the public, was found in an art house in Italy and meticulously restored to screening condition. Before this print had been found, it was thought the only print had gone up in flames in 1970 when Welles’ house burned down.
 
“To think that a silent film by Orson Welles has been dormant for more than thirty years in the same city where a major festival of silent film has been held for about as much time is mind-boggling. It almost defies belief,” said Cherchi Usai, co-founder of the silent film festival.
 
“This is by far the most important film restoration by George Eastman House in a very long time,” stated Paolo Cherchi Usai, senior curator of film. “Holding in one’s hands the very same print that had been personally edited by Orson Welles 75 years ago provokes an emotion that’s just impossible to describe.”
 
The world premiere will be followed by a U.S. premiere on October 16th in Rochester, New York.
 
“The Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House is one of the oldest and most prestigious film archives in the United States and we are honored to host the U.S. premiere of this iconic film in the fall,” said Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director of George Eastman House. “Under the leadership of Paolo Cherchi Usai, our museum is being widely recognized for its efforts in the field of moving image preservation. We are proud to be a key contributor to the restoration of one of the greatest long-lost treasures in motion picture history.”
 
Details on Two Much Johnson:
 
Too Much Johnson was originally intended to be used in conjunction with Welles’ stage adaptation of an 1894 play by William Gillette. The Mercury Theatre planned to show the three short films as prologues to each act of the play. The three-part slapstick comedy was meant to be shown with the accompaniment of music and live sound effects, but was never finished. Joseph Cotten was cast in the lead role, with supporting roles going to Mercury Theatre actors, including Eustace Wyatt, Edgar Barrier, Ruth Ford, Arlene Francis, Mary Wickes, Orson Welles, and his wife Virginia Nicholson. The play ultimately opened without the film on August 16, 1938, and flopped.”
 
Source: George Eastman House