Eye For Film >> Movies >> They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018) Film Review
They'll Love Me When I'm Dead
Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze
Special Events selection They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead with Peter Bogdanovich, Oja Kodar, and Joseph McBride on the making of The Other Side Of The Wind is an early bird highlight of the 56th New York Film Festival. Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) chronicles the goings on around the chaotic assembly of Orson Welles's never completed film with Alan Cumming as an unobtrusive narrator.
In 1970, Hollywood was changing and Welles intended to make two films in one. The titbits are fascinating: Peter Bogdanovic, acting in The Other Side Of The Wind, was given the instruction to play his role "like Jerry Lewis", there is Claude Chabrol popping up like a chubby lemur in the party sequence, while the lead part of Hannaford, famous tough-guy movie director, isn't even cast yet.
John Huston soon will bite on the role and chew and grin his way through a sheer endless Hollywood industry party that contains the interrupted screening of the unfinished movie within the movie, which parodies and intends to combine the likes of Ingmar Bergman's Persona, Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse, and Jacques Demy's Model Shop.
Neville shows quick clips from these, following right after a narrative excursion into the fact that Welles loved to change noses in his roles, usually the larger the better, a commentary accompanied by a cat seen nibbling on one such discarded fake nose.
Oja Kodar, Orson's lover at the time, is more or less in a state of undress throughout. The party scenes, we learn, were filmed in 1974 in Arizona, in the house next to the one Antonioni blew up in Zabriskie Point. With no script, Welles was constantly re-shooting and coming up with new, rather telling ideas.
Midgets are running through people's legs and a young blond teenager with no acting experience was hired as a stab at Cybill Shepherd, who was 19 when Bogdanovich discovered her. John Huston as slimy Hannaford takes the girl under his wing. The documentary lifts the various stones around the movie's creation and lets us have a good look at the monsters hiding underneath Welles's barely watchable, misogynistic hate parade.
You could call it the anti-Mr Rogers (Morgan Neville's Won't You Be My Neighbor?, on Fred Rogers, I predict will be Oscar shortlisted). There is an early clip with Bogdanovich being interviewed by Dick Cavett about the title quote and we learn about how much Welles loved "divine accidents."
So why did it take so long for us to see The Other Side Of The Wind, almost half a century after it all began? The clips from it, shown at an American Film Institute awards show, followed by Welles begging from and simultaneously attacking the industry, did not go over too well. And then there was 1979 and the Iranian revolution and the complications from the fact that the Shah's money was financing so much of the movie. Plus the usual culprits of change in the public's taste, Jaws and Star Wars.
I only wish there were a little more of Lilli Palmer in They'll Love Me When I'm Dead. Her expressive face and dead-pan commentary are the rare anchor of sanity in Welles' histrionic film.
The ugly truth is out there for all to see with the open eyes of 2018 as The Other Side Of The Wind will be shown right after the Alice Tully Hall screening of They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead this Saturday afternoon, September 29. There will be an extended conversation with Frank Marshall, Filip Jan Rymsza, Peter Bogdanovich, Bob Murawski, and Morgan Neville, moderated by Kent Jones and Martin Scorsese.Reviewed on: 28 Sep 2018