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My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  565 ratings  ·  121 reviews
BASED ON LONG-LOST RECORDINGS, A SET OF RIVETING AND REVEALING CONVERSATIONS WITH AMERICA'S GREAT CULTURAL PROVOCATEUR

There have long been rumors of a lost cache of tapes containing private conversations between Orson Welles and his friend the director Henry Jaglom, recorded over regular lunches in the years before Welles died. The tapes, gathering dust in a garage, did in
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Picador (first published July 9th 2013)
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Community Reviews

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Sketchbook
Years ago I was meeting a friend in the bar at Brown's Hotel, London. Noodged by a whisky who said, "The Fat Man is here," I saw Orson. Holding forth, he was spinning stories in his honey-baked ham voice. A little group of fleas clustered. Nothing he said was true. Flea Jaglom continues the F for Fake.
Jeff Jackson
Orson Welles newcomers should STAY AWAY from this book. Instead, check out Peter Bogdanovich's wonderful "This Is Orson Welles" which provides a much better career context and gives a more nuanced picture of the man and the artist.

For Welles fanatics, this compulsively readable volume is worthwhile. It's important to keep the context in mind, that Welles was performing for an audience of one and tailoring his comments accordingly, sometimes offering opinions that differed from his own merely to
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Chad Lind
Awesome. I don't understand why anyone would care in the least about the truth content of the stories contained in this book. The entire thing is entertaining. For those looking for a series of truthful, dry, Hollywood stories from the mouth of Orson Welles, look elsewhere during your lengthy reality check.
Daniel Russo
This isn't a formal rundown of of Orson Welles' career, but a great part of this book's appeal is how gloriously informal it is. This is Welles at his most relaxed and unguarded, free-associating across the years with Henry Jaglom over lunch, touching on both his most famous works and the ones that never got made at all. It's not an altogether flattering portrait of the man, but it's a very human one, capturing a period of quiet desperation during the last few years of his life when he was still ...more
Harriett Milnes
When I was in college, Orson Welles was IT! A friend and I headed up our college's Film Society, and we wanted to officially change the name to the Orson Welles Jean-Luc Godard Film Society. I have since changed my views on Jean-Luc Godard: although his movies are amusing, he is not enough in the narrative tradition. Anyway, I discovered this book, published in 2013. Henry Jaglom met Orson Welles for lunch and recorded their conversations. A lot of Hollywood gossip and interesting revelations: C ...more
Ted
I've long been fascinated by Welles' career: intermittently meteoric and bathetic. I can't say I've read the other books of interviews with him (which might present a more complete picture of the man), but this volume, transcribed from informal lunchtime conversations with his friend the director/actor Henry Jaglom, shows Welles at the end of his life, a rueful and self-mythologizing oracle. It is not a flattering depiction; Welles comes across as generally resentful and bitter, as well as patho ...more
Neil Griffin
In theory, this should be such a bore. A transcript of two guys sitting around a lunch table and talking movies and bullshit. Not at all. The conversations are all page-turning good and touch on basically everything: good movies, bad movies, asshole actors, egotistical critics, death, conspiracy theories, philosophy, sex, and more funny anecdotes and stories than you could believe. Above all, there is a gentle humor that underlies every page of this--well, actually some of it is pretty vicious, ...more
Allison
If you've ever wondered what having lunch with Orson Welles would've been like, here's your chance. He is an entertaining companion, though he does seem to be a crotchet-y old man at times. His stories and opinions are fascinating, though after awhile it gets tedious. Towards the end of the book I caught myself skimming pages instead of really reading them. People that are more knowledgeable about old Hollywood will probably enjoy this book a lot more than a regular person.
Ron S
Tapes recorded over the course of wide ranging lunch conversations between Orson Welles and director Henry Jaglom in the early 80s reveal Welles as a brilliant, iconoclastic raconteur in merrily uncensored fashion. You don't need to agree with or be a fan of Welles to find this wildly entertaining. The substantial introduction by Peter Biskind, author of "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" is worth the price of the book on its own. For sheer pleasure, the best non-fiction book I've read so far this year ...more
Raquel
Wildly entertaining, eye-opening, shocking and bittersweet. Orson Welles didn't hold back in his opinions in these conversations with fellow director Henry Jaglom. Welles often times showed his paranoia and seemed to perform for an audience but we do get a very candid and open Welles. This is a great book and a refreshing read after having consumed so many all-encompassing biographies. Sometimes it is good to look at the small details in order to get a better sense of the bigger picture. Read my ...more
Washington Post
At one point in these conversations with the film director Henry Jaglom, Orson Welles recalls a Newsweek review of “Citizen Kane” in which the novelist John O’Hara wrote, “This is not only the best picture that has ever been made, it is the best picture that will ever be made.”

“What do you do after that?” Jaglom asks.

“Nothing,” Welles replies. “I should’ve retired.”

Considering the 44 years of his life that followed the release of “Kane,” Welles may have spoken the truth.

Read the review: http://w
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Sara E.
Well... if I didn't love Orson Welles before, I most certainly do now. I'm not saying I agree with everything he said in these conversations. I'm not saying that most of what he said was politically correct. He has a very blunt, direct manner, and I appreciate that immensely. The conversations about old Hollywood and "how it used to be" are priceless. So is some of the gossip about other celebrities and directors and such. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves Orson Welles and his ...more
Benjamin
This was an interesting little read. In the mid-80s, actor/director Henry Jaglom tape recorded a number of luncheons he shared with actor/director Orson Welles. Those conversations were transcribed and made into this book, with some notes by editor Biskind.

Welles is kind of like an opinionated hurricane, dominating the conversation, constantly voicing his thoughts and memories, overrunning any statements contrary to his own. He spouts views that are terribly un-PC, which was sometimes fun, somet
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Carl
Orson Welles used to eat lunch (or hold court) almost every day at a tony restaurant in Hollywood. For the last three years of his life, which ended in 1985, many of the lunch conversations were recorded, and this book is the transcription (more or less faithful).

Welles knew everyone in the movie business, and a lot of people outside of it, and loved to tell stories about them. For example, he said John Wayne was a gentleman, but Humphrey Bogart was a coward. According to Welles, Bogart picked f
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Jeffrey
This is an absolutely fascinating book about one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of the 20th century.

From 1983 to 1985, friend and fellow filmmaker, Henry Jaglom, taped a series of conversations with Orson Welles over lunch in the years just prior to icon's death.

The tapes were stored in Jaglom's garage, gathering dust for decades, until film historian, Peter Biskind, gathered them, and edited and transcribed them into book form.

What emerges from these pages is a man of towering
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David Rush
This is not particularly insightful about Welles's character or works but I thought it was a real joy to get a feel what it was like to have a conversation with him. The talk is sometimes hyperbolic but I imagine him being relaxed and almost thinking out loud, so it doesn't bother me when he ventures into politically incorrect areas.

His area of interests was wide if not extremely deep, although certainly deeper than understanding.

It sounds like he was interested history, current events as well
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Steve
In 1983-85, the last years of Orson Wells' life, Henry Jaglom regularly had lunch with Welles in Los Angeles. At Welles' suggestion, Jaglom taped these conversations, and this book collects the transcripts. It's by turns fun and depressing to listen to Welles. Fun because he has a million stories to tell, and is really good at telling them. On more than several occasions, I burst out laughing at the book. Depressing because it's at a time when Welles is somewhat delusional about the possibility ...more
Jeffrey Falk
This book is entertaining (and, at times, fascinating). It consists of edited transcriptions of discussions between an aging and destitute Welles with his younger and temporarily more viable friend Henry Jaglom. (Several people, famous and anonymous, briefly join the discussions.) Virtually every reader will learn something notable and important about everything from French literature to late twentieth-century Hollywood dealmaking (Welles was, if nothing else, a learned and cultured cultural fig ...more
Chris
Orson is full of stories, which are all the things Soderbergh says they are on the jacket blurb. By the end, with all the dishing, negative reviews, and feuds he doles out, Welles comes off as sometimes rude, overly dismissive, and at war with the world. How much you enjoy the book will depend on how much you reconcile these things, and trust what Welles says is the truth. While I think he sometimes stretches the truth (or lies), and indulges in too many attacks on other Hollywood/ stage legends ...more
David
Transcripts of lunch table chitchat that may or may not have been taped with Orson Welles' consent. Gossip writer Peter Biskind adds a forward which leaves one with the impression that he may or may not have seen a Welles film after "Citizen Kane."

Read Peter Bogdanovich's book length "This is Orson Welles" instead.
Jonathan Rimorin
A chatty, de-mythtifying series of conversations held between Welles and the filmmaker Henry Jaglom during some lunches at Ma Maison, from 1983 to 1985. They talk over a few topics: Welles' latter years, where he scrambles endlessly trying to get financing for a few projects and ultimately fails; Ronald Reagan; the women in Welles' life; and Jaglom's own films, which sound horrible. Welles' image as a pompous/sophisticated/arrogant/artiste and enfant sauvage is fully put to rest here as his conv ...more
Mark Ellis
A great dipping book. Plenty of great old Hollywood stories. Sparkling stories and insights from a genius who was probably his own worst enemy.
Jeff
A collection of transcripted conversations between indy director Henry Jaglom and the bigger than life Orson Welles, auteur of Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, among others. The conversations were reconstructed from taped luncheon chats at Welles' favorite hangout, Ma Maison. Fascinating glimpses of the famous, such as Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart, and Rita Hayworth, as well as lesser known actors, producers and film professionals. Welles' ego is as large as his physical girth, and there is mor ...more
Justin
A low-rent affair that I'm mad I had to read because I'm an Orson-lover.
Tosh
Totally a readable can't put it down book, but in the end, it is also a very depressing book. Over a period of time, the independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom had a series of lunches with Orson Welles at his favorite restaurant, and taped all their conversations. The first question that comes to mind is why would Welles want to have his conversations taped, especially when it deals with nitty gritty business issues? The second horrible thing is that Welles comes off as a bitter broken down guy who ...more
Tracy Alan Hughes
It took me almost a year to finish this book. Not because I didn’t like it, I did. This is what I call a ‘time filler’ book that I’ve been carrying with me everywhere for months. For me, this is material for when you need something quick to read while at an appointment, dining alone, traveling, etcetera. I say that because it is a written transcript of recorded conversations between actor, director, playwright, Henry Jaglom, and one of my personal heroes, Orson Welles. ( from the early to mid 19 ...more
TinHouseBooks
Tony Perez (Editor, Tin House Books): It’s September, so literary agents are back from their Châteauneuf-du-Pape binges in St. Tropez, the kind of large living that 15% of a quiet, literary novel enables (I’m from Portland: is my New York Publishing Worldview accurate?). This means the manuscripts are piling up again, and my pleasure-reading time resembles the sleep schedule of a single mother whose newborn has an ear infection. My fall reading comes in fits and starts, and it’s nice to have som ...more
Mike
Orson Welles was a fascinating person. Listening to him talk must have been a great experience.

Having said that, "My Lunches With Orson" is only an okay book. The "table talk" rambles, as opposed to actual interviews such as "Orson Welles Interviews" in the U. of Mississippi Press series or "This Is Orson Welles" by Peter Bogdanovich. Jaglom doesn't bring out the best in Welles, or, perhaps, Welles was running out of energy by this time. If you have read either of the two earlier books, you'll n
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Jack Gattanella
I was originally going to give this book, which is as the title suggests an epic length version in the most insider way possible a My Dinner with Andre thing between Welles and Jaglom over the years, four stars or Maybe four And a half. It wasn't that I never didn't enjoy the boom, far from it, it's a wonderful look at how this man Orson Welles was basically holding court, like if the Barathian king from Game of Thrones didn't die but became an old man and got to laugh it up and tell his war sto ...more
Karen Sweeney
The book provided a partial portrait of the larger-than-life Orson Welles. Henry Jaglom was friends with Welles and taped their lunch conversations for a couple of years. Welles gave Jaglom permission to do so, which means Welles was aware the things he said would likely be publicized at some point.
Do you have a friend or relative that is difficult, opinionated in a negative way, temperamental and generally draining to be around? If so, you are acquainted with the way Welles comes across in the
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Who By Fire Onlin...: Director, screenwriter Henry Jaglom 2 6 Jun 06, 2013 05:45AM  
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Peter Biskind is a cultural critic and film historian. He was the editor-in-chief of American Film magazine from 1981 to 1986, and the executive editor of Premiere from 1986 to 1996. His writing has appeared in scores of national publications, including Rolling Stone, Paris Match, the Nation, The New York Times, the Times of London, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as film journals such as Sight ...more
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