Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Orson Welles, fully George Orson Welles

American Actor, Director, Writer and Producer in Theater, Radio and Film

"Gluttony is not a secret vice."

"An artist is always out of step with the time. He has to be."

"We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone"

"A long-playing full shot is what always separates the men from the boys. Anybody can make movies with a pair of scissors and a two-inch lens."

"A good artist should be isolated. If he isn't isolated, something is wrong."

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."

"A writer needs a pen, an artist needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army."

"As close to a genius as anyone I have ever met."

"As for my style, for my vision of the cinema, editing is not simply one aspect; it's the aspect."

"Almost all serious stories in the world are stories of failure with a death in it. But there is more lost paradise in them than defeat."

"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch."

"Create your own visual style... let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others."

"Criminals are never very amusing. It's because they're failures. Those who make real money aren't counted as criminals. This is a class distinction, not an ethical problem."

"Criticism is the essence of creation."

"Did you ever stop to think why cops are always famous for being dumb? Simple. Because they don't have to be anything else."

"A poet needs a pen, a painter a brush, and a filmmaker an army."

"A toast, Jedediah, to love on my terms. Those are the only terms anybody ever knows — his own."

"By nature, I am an experimentalist. I don't believe much in accomplishment."

"But you can't emphasize "beef", that's like his wanting me to emphasize "in" before "July"! Come on, fellows, you're losing your heads! I wouldn't direct any living actor like this in Shakespeare! The way you do this, it's impossible!"

"At twenty-one, so many things appear solid, permanent, untenable."

"Cinema as a means of expression fascinates me."

"Ecstasy is not really part of the scene we can do on celluloid."

"Every true artist must, in his own way, be a magician, a charlatan."

"Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit."

"Everything I do today took me years!"

"Even if I’d stayed [in the US to finish ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’] I would’ve had to make compromises on the editing, but these would’ve been mine and not the fruit of confused and often semi-hysterical committees. If I had been there myself I would have found my own solutions and saved the pictures in a form which would have carried the stamp of my own effort."

"Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him."

"Everybody denies I am a genius - but nobody ever called me one!"

"Faces in color tend to look like meat, veal, beef, bologna."

"Fake is as old as the Eden tree."

"Exactly, I repeated myself. I believe we do it all the time. We always take up certain elements again. How can it be avoided? An actor’s voice always has the same timbre and, consequently, he repeats himself. It is the same for a singer, a painter…There are always certain things that come back, for they are part of one’s personality, of one’s style. If these things didn’t come into play, a personality would be so complex that it would become impossible to identify it."

"For thirty years people have been asking me how I reconcile X with Y! The truthful answer is that I don't. Everything about me is a contradiction and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There is a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don't reconcile the poles. You just recognize them."

"Hollywood died on me as soon as I got there"

"Friendship creates only the illusion of not being alone."

"He is as unaffected as Albert Einstein."

"Hollywood is a gold-plated suburb suitable for golfers, gardeners, assorted middlemen, and contented movies stars. I am none of these things."

"Hollywood is Hollywood. There’s nothing you can say about it that isn’t true, good or bad. And if you get into it, you have no right to be bitter — you’re the one who sat down, and joined the game."

"Hollywood expects you to experiment but on a film that makes money and if you don't make money, you're to blame. Your job is to make money."

"I can think of nothing that an audience won't understand. The only problem is to interest them; once they are interested, they understand anything in the world."

"Hollywood is the only industry, even taking in soup companies, which does not have laboratories for the purpose of experimentation."

"I discovered at the age of six that everything was a phony, worked with mirrors. Since then, I've always wanted to be a magician."

"I don't believe in learning from other people's pictures. I think you should learn from your own interior vision of things and discover, as I say, innocently, as though there had never been anybody."

"I do not suppose I shall be remembered for anything. But I don't think about my work in those terms. It is just as vulgar to work for the sake of posterity as to work for the sake of money."

"I don't pray because I don't want to bore God."

"I don't regard my career as something so precious that it comes before my convictions."

"I don't say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could."

"I don't take art as seriously as politics."

"I don't want any description of me to be accurate; I want it to be flattering. I don't think people who have to sing for their supper ever like to be described truthfully - not in print anyway. We need to sell tickets, so we need good reviews."

"I don't think any word can explain a man's life."

"I drag my myth around with me"