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Too Much Johnson1938

The Films Reimagined

  • 3.1
In 1938, three years before CITIZEN KANE, New York theater tyro Orson Welles filmed comedy sequences for his stage production of TOO MUCH JOHNSON, a rapid-fire farce of mistaken identities. The slapstick prologue features Joseph Cotten doing Harold Lloyd antics through the streets and across the rooftops of New York City, a lively tribute to silent comedy and Keystone Kops chaos, while two shorter sequences open the second and third acts of the play with chases and duels. Welles edited a rough cut but the project was abandoned and the footage was never screened. Long assumed lost, the reels were found in 2008 and then preserved through an international collaboration between the National Film Preservation Foundation, George Eastman House, the Cineteca del Friuli and Cinemazero. Seventy-five years after the images were created, the footage was given a world premiere at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in 2013. Though ragged and never designed to play as a stand-alone work, the sequences (assembled here as "The Films Reimagined" by film historian Scott Simmon for the National Film Preservation Foundation) are dynamic and exciting and show Welles already experimenting with intricate editing patterns, deep focus photography and labyrinthine imagery. It is a huge leap from his first film (the imaginative short THE HEARTS OF AGE) and the most exciting cinematic find of the new century to date. - Sean Axmaker

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"Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the slapstick stylings of Orson Welles, the boy wonder of Broadway!. . .a thrilling piece of filmmaking, whimsical and sophisticated, fast and furious, clever and funny and just plain fun." - Sean Axmaker, Keyframe


3 members like this review

Clever directing and fine use of locations in this slapstick comedy that is every bit a riot. Set during the woman's suffrage movement, this silent film pleasantly explores all of the common themes: love, jealousy, infidelity. While it explores women's increasing independence and right to choose her own partner, it also offers a humorous look at men who try to control them -- and fail miserably. The scene chases throughout the streets and industrial area of New York, including numerous walk-ups and scenes of characters clinging to their lives while hanging atop tall rooftops are not to be missed. Definitely a tribute to Chaplin and other silent film geniuses. Welles definitely had artistic control of those 'Cuban' mountains at the time of filming. A pleasure to behold. Wonderfully restored.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (2)

E3c0ef15d3401075340dcd342d006208?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0052
top reviewer

Clever directing and fine use of locations in this slapstick comedy that is every bit a riot. Set during the woman's suffrage movement, this silent film pleasantly explores all of the common themes: love, jealousy, infidelity. While it explores women's increasing independence and right to choose her own partner, it also offers a humorous look at men who try to control them -- and fail miserably. The scene chases throughout the streets and industrial area of New York, including numerous walk-ups and scenes of characters clinging to their lives while hanging atop tall rooftops are not to be missed. Definitely a tribute to Chaplin and other silent film geniuses. Welles definitely had artistic control of those 'Cuban' mountains at the time of filming. A pleasure to behold. Wonderfully restored.

3 members like this review
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top reviewer

boy times have changed_super silly_ Joseph Cotton does a great job_i think it's so cool how he & Orson worked together from the start_glad it's short i would have gotten bored if it was longer_also love how the film quality is really fucked up_adds to my pleasure