A “Lost” Orson Welles Film Has Been Found

Unearthing cinematic history

Orson Welles
Orson Welles on the set of 'Verites et mensonges' ('F For Fake' or 'Truths and Lies'), 1973.
Apic/Getty Images

In the last 10 years, cinephiles have had plenty of reasons to celebrate when it comes to the work of Orson Welles. The restoration of his acclaimed Chimes at Midnight marked one such reason, as did the restoration and completion of his unfinished feature The Other Side of the Wind, which debuted on Netflix in 2018.

Welles’s career is one that, unfortunately, abounds with “lost” and unfinished projects, and even these two — both cinematic holy grails of a sort — don’t represent all of the projects of his that might be lost to history. But it turns out we might be closer than previously believed to unearthing some of Welles’s other projects.

An article at the Welles-centric website Wellesnet offers details on a short film Welles made in the early 1970s that was believed to be lost for good. The film, Two Wise Old Men: Socrates and Noah, was released in 1972 in a video format called Cartrivision. According to the article, Welles made six short films total; the format was a precursor to both VHS and Betamax.

Wellesnet’s report notes that the short film “contains separate performances by Welles on the Greek philosopher and the biblical patriarch” and “is a fairly simple production that relies heavily on the power of Welles’ voice.” Welles’s estate is currently working on finding a wider audience for the production.

This was one of six short films Welles made for Catrivision. Another video was obtained at the same time, but had been erased at some point between the early 1970s and today.

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