Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles” as Want to Read:
My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  795 Ratings  ·  145 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
ebook, 320 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Metropolitan Books (first published July 9th 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Lunches with Orson, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Lunches with Orson

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Lisa Lieberman
Welles was a perfectly awful human being, and I don't like Jaglom much for egging him on. That said, I kept this book on my night table and dipped into it before bed with great enjoyment.

Henry Jaglom: Is Bogart as good as I think he is?
Orson Welles: No. Not nearly as good as you believe. Bogart was a second-rate actor. Really a second-rate actor. He was a fascinating personality who captured the imagination of the world, but he never gave a good performance in his life . . .
HJ: To me, he gives t
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
Jul 01, 2013 Sketchbook rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 29, 2015 Antigone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir-biography
The two reasons I've resisted this long:

1) The presence of Henry Jaglom on this planet taxes me.

2) Still scraping the remnants of My Dinner with Andre from the cognitive footlocker.

But it's Orson. It's Hollywood's premiere l'enfant terrible. It's the Emperor of Dish, parked with his poodle at Ma Maison, digesting soft-shelled crab as he opines on the entirety of the known artistic universe. It's stories in that basso profundo voice that may or may not be true, but always serve to make his point
Oh my god. The afterglow.

I've read books that have moved me to tears, made me ecstatic, and even given me a hard-on. This book did not do any of those things, but it did do something that I have never before experienced while reading. At one point while eagerly lapping up its onrushing constant goodness I had a genuine endorphin rush, a natural high -- and it startled me.

In this book, the late Orson Welles bares his soul and takes no prisoners. He's an atomic neutron dirty bomb spewing toxic ra
Bob Schnell
Is the art of conversation dead? Or is it just that great conversationalists have lost their place to social media? You might think about such things while reading "My Lunches with Orson". While Orson Welles is still a divisive figure (people either love or hate him) no one can say that he didn't know how to spark reactions that led to discussions ranging from witty banter to deep talk about a wide range of subjects. Henry Jaglom lets us in on the conversation by transcribing many recorded lunch ...more
Chad Lind
Jul 19, 2013 Chad Lind rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 05, 2013 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So many of the conversations transcribed in this book struck me as trivial rather than interesting. Welles comes of as bitchy, more than anything else...
Daniel Russo
Jun 11, 2015 Daniel Russo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Erik Graff
Dec 24, 2015 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Welles' fans
Recommended to Erik by: Rick Strong
Shelves: biography
This book consists of transcripts of tape recordings made by Jaglom of conversations he had with Orson Welles while they were dining in a restaurant. Younger, Jaglom obsequiously primes and pumps the Great Man so it's not just talk about food and the weather, and while Welles has a lot to say, most of it is gossip, Hollywood gossip. I suppose if I were older and more invested in the films and theatre of the forties, fifties and sixties--or in knowing about the sex lives of the stars of that peri ...more
May 23, 2016 Sem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
Oh, Orson. Even at the end, even when talking to someone as annoying as Jaglom, even when the line between 'truth' and 'fiction' was more than usually blurred, you shone.
Oliver Bateman
Feb 16, 2017 Oliver Bateman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
much more fun, and much more revealing, than bogdanovich's prior book of interviews with welles (which was much more work-focused). welles here is like a living, breathing thinkpiece, and you're left w/ the sense that a single conversation w/ him was worth dozens of films and novels by other people. is it possible to be a tremendous waste of talent in spite of an extraordinary body of work? absolutely; here's proof (and he knew it, too).
Oct 19, 2013 Ted rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 22, 2013 Tosh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
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
Nov 29, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Lunches with Orson documented a series of taped interviews at a West Hollywood restaurant with Orson Welles and Henry Joglom at the last stage of Welles’s life. At first, I was appalled by Welles, an artist of stature, who resorted to gossip and put-downs of Hollywood stars to puff himself up. My opinion switched to that he had a sarcastic, wicked sense of humor. The magnitude of his talent and genius gave himself permission to think that he was superior. A turn-around occurred midway through ...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
Ron S
May 03, 2013 Ron S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Washington Post
Jul 15, 2013 Washington Post rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Neil Griffin
Jan 13, 2014 Neil Griffin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 02, 2013 Raquel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2015 Allison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, movies, 2015
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.
Oct 19, 2013 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Randy Lakeman
I grew weary of his vitriol (especially towards Irene Dunne) and found him to be a bit long in the tooth. I am becoming less and less enamored by anger old men, see also Gore Vidal, as I try not to turn into one myself. Worth reading if you like this type of Hollywood, gossipy banter.
May 11, 2016 Charlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've always wondered what Orson Welles was like and after reading this book I have to say be careful what you wish for.
Mark Ellis
Mar 11, 2014 Mark Ellis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great dipping book. Plenty of great old Hollywood stories. Sparkling stories and insights from a genius who was probably his own worst enemy.
Jul 15, 2013 Justin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A low-rent affair that I'm mad I had to read because I'm an Orson-lover.
John Butler
Nov 27, 2016 John Butler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's like being in the room with Orson Welles. His wit, eccentricity and sheer intelligence endear him to the reader so well, it doesn't even matter if you always know what he's talking about or not--and you might not always know, because many of the conversations are about old Hollywood and the persons that era concerns. Then again, if you don't like old Hollywood, why get into Orson Welles?
Edward Waverley
This promises to be superb entertainment when it's out. Peter Bogdanovich's book of interviews with Welles is also juicy, but I'm pretty sure Biskind's book will wind up topping the former, based on the excerpts below. I wonder what Peter Joo Bogdanovich will make of Orson's remarks about the physical disgust he felt toward Woody Allen.

Hat tip to Dangerous Minds.

"Oh is this good. It’s almost too good.

Director Henry Jaglom and the great Orson Welles knew ea
May 28, 2017 Nicola rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ein tolles Buch! Orson Welles redet frei von der Leber weg und herausgekommen ist dabei ein interessantes Buch für Kinofans. Mann, war der Mann ein Lästermaul! Aber genau das macht viel von dem Buch aus, weil kein Weichspülprogramm läuft, sondern Klartext geredet wird.

Mir hat es sehr gefallen.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Who By Fire Onlin...: Director, screenwriter Henry Jaglom 2 6 Jun 06, 2013 05:45AM  
  • This Is Orson Welles
  • The New Biographical Dictionary of Film: Expanded and Updated
  • City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s
  • Conversations with Wilder
  • Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard
  • Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in Transition
  • The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies
  • Who the Devil Made It: Conversations With Legendary Film Directors
  • A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Stone, Kubrick, Scorsese, Spielberg, Altman
  • Picture
  • Godard on Godard: Critical Writings
  • A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking
  • Film as a Subversive Art
  • Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo
  • The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929-1968
  • Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?)
  • Orson Welles, Vol. 1: The Road to Xanadu
  • Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood
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
More about Peter Biskind...

Share This Book

“Every man who is any kind of artist has a great deal of female in him. I act and give of myself as a man, but I register and receive with the soul of a woman. The only really good artists are feminine. I can't admit the existence of an artist whose dominant personality is masculine.” 11 likes
“I believe that we're much healthier if we think of our selfishness as sin. Which is what it is: a sin. Even if there is nothing out there except a random movement of untold gases and objects, sin still exists. You don't need a devil with horns. It's a social definition of sin. Everything we do that is self-indulgent, and that is selfish, and that turns us away from our dignity as human beings is a sin against what we were born with, the capacities we have, what we could make of this planet. Our whole age has taken the line that if you feel bad about yourself, it's something that you can be relieved of by your goddamn analyst. Psst!—it's gone! And then you'll be happy, you know? But that feeling is not something you should be relieved of. It's something you should deal with. And there's no remission for what I mean by "sin," except doing something useful. The confessional does the same thing as the shrink, rather more quickly and cheaper. Three "Hail Mary"s, and you're out. But I've never been the kind of religious person that thinks saying "Hail Mary" is gonna get me out of it.” 9 likes
More quotes…