After going silent for almost two years, producers working to salvage “The Other Side of the Wind,” the unfinished final opus of Orson Welles, re-emerged recently with a major development: Netflix is joining their rescue party.
Yes, one of the most famous movies never released — one that has bedeviled various directors, movie companies and cinema buffs since Welles left it unfinished upon his death in 1985 — may finally be completed and shown worldwide. “I’m not going to be defeated here,” said Frank Marshall, who was a line producer on the film in the 1970s and has been among those on a quest to finish it. “We’re going to get this made.”
“The Other Side of the Wind,” a skewering of avant-garde directors, was conceptualized by Welles as a type of collage. The film is a reconstruction of a party (using various types of footage supposedly shot by guests and the paparazzi) held at the home of Jake Hannaford, a nonconformist film director, just before he dies. Scenes from Hannaford’s unfinished comeback film-within-a-film are interspersed.
After decades-long efforts to complete “The Other Side of the Wind” went nowhere — rights holders favored different approaches, to put it mildly — there was a breakthrough in 2014. A producing team that included Marshall, Filip Jan Rymsza and Peter Bogdanovich, who acted in “The Other Side of the Wind,” secured the rights to 1,083 reels of footage stored in a warehouse outside Paris.
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But their financing plans fell through. They turned to the public, hoping to raise up to $2 million through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to help pay for editing, music and other postproduction costs. They only raised $406,605.
Rymsza said in July 2015 that he had another financing plan up his sleeve, although he declined to discuss it. As it turns out, Rymsza and his cohorts were talking to Netflix.
Netflix, which has been moving aggressively to expand its original film offerings, has committed to making “The Other Side of the Wind” available to its roughly 90 million subscribers worldwide. With its backing, the footage that has been in Paris — eight pallets’ worth of reels, packed carefully by archivists — is now in Los Angeles, where Marshall and Bogdanovich will oversee editing based on handwritten notes that Welles left behind and their own memory of the production.
Frank Marshall and his wife, Kathleen Kennedy — who now heads the production company Lucasfilm — lived partly in Boise while they launched their careers. Individually and together and through their Kennedy Marshall Company, they’ve been involved in some of the biggest hits of the past 30 years, including “E.T., “ “Schindler’s List, “ “The Sixth Sense” and “Jurassic Park.”
They’ve been staunch supporters of the local YMCA over the years, bringing screenings of many of their films, including some of the “Indiana Jones” and “Back to the Future” series, as benefits.
In recent years, Marshall also supported Boise Contemporary Theater. He brought the “Bourne” films (and actor Matt Damon), “Seabiscuit” (and jockey-turned-actor Gary Stevens) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (along with Kennedy) to benefit Boise Contemporary Theater.
The Statesman contributed