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Orson Welles Accepts the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1975



you will be remembered as a creator of films mr. whoreson waddles my father once told me that the art of receiving a compliment is of all things the sign of a civilized man and he died soon afterwards leaving my education in this important matter sadly and complete I'm only glad that on this the occasion of the rarest compliment he ever could have dreamed of that he isn't here to see his son so publicly at a loss in receiving a compliment or trying to the words are all worn out by now they're polluted by ham and corn and when you try to scratch around for some new ones it's just an exercise in empty cleverness what I feel this evening is not very clever it's the very opposite of emptiness the corny old phrase is the only one I know to say it my heart is full with a full heart with all of it I thank you [Applause] this is Samuel Johnson on the subject of what he calls contrary tees there are goods so opposed that we cannot seize both and in trying failed to seize either flatter not yourself he says with contrary tees of the blessing set before you make your choice no man can at the same time fill his cup from the source and from the mouth of the Nile well this business of contrary tees has to do with us with you who were paying me this complimented with me who have strayed so far from this hometown of ours not that I'm alone in this are unique I am never that but there are a few of us left in this conglomerated world of ours who still trudge stubbornly along a lonely rocky road and this is in fact our contrary T we don't move nearly as fast as our cousins on the freeway we don't even get as much accomplished just as the family size farm can't possibly raise as many crops or get as much profit as the agricultural factory of today what we do come up with has no special right to call itself better it's just different no if there's any excuse for us at all it's that we're simply following the old American tradition of the Maverick and we are a vanishing breed this honor I can only accept in the name of all the Mavericks oh sure and also as a tribute to the generosity of all the rest of you to the givers to the ones with fixed addresses the Maverick may go his own way but he doesn't think that it's the only way or ever claim that it's the best one except maybe for himself and don't imagine that this raggle taggle gypsy-o is claiming to be free it's just that some of the necessities to which I am a slave are different from yours as a director for instance I pay myself out of my acting jobs I use my own work to subsidize my work in other words I'm crazy [Applause] but not crazy enough to pretend to be free but it's a fact that many of the films you've seen tonight would never have been made otherwise or if otherwise well they might have been better but certainly there wouldn't have been mine the truth is I don't believe that this great evening would ever have brightened my life if it weren't for this my own particular contrary tea [Applause] let us Rose our cups then standing as some of us do on opposite ends of the river and drink together – what really matters to us all to our crazy and beloved profession to the movies the good movies to every possible kind you

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Comments
  • Orson misspoke when — perhaps due to his magnanimous nature — he claimed he wasn't unique. Dear Orson was nothing if not distinctly unique.

  • A very magnanimous speech from a man the movie industry tried to destroy. Very noble and very ethical indeed.

  • very nice, his accent is kinda different, it's american but has traces of Britishness in it or is just me? But he's well spoken dude!

  • The BEST American voice to ever speak………amazing, it pulls you in, commands you to listen-not by force but by the sheer elegance of pronunciation, timing and cadence.

  • I have got to the point of searching out any channels that has Orson Welles speaking, which is just fascinating. A true genius and unique individual.

  • This is odd. Orson's genius was NEVER welcome in Hollywood, so, to bestow upon him its highest honour is a perverse joke. AFI should have granted other film makers whom could function in that system first. Surprizingly, Welles excepted! Orson forever, but he was never a company man…

  • Welles fought the Hollywood system and lost but he never gave up and lived to see his genius recognized before he died

  • I do find it kind of funny that they are giving him this kind of award when Hollywood essentially wouldn't even hire him or give him any worthwhile projects or fund his own Beyond Citizen Kane. He wasn't a commercial director and was ahead of his time in the studio did not want that. It's all about profits and not about the art. And then all these years later they decide to give him a general award for his work. It's a bit hypocritical.

  • I miss this guy, even though ive never known him, he seemed like an endearing, gentle, honest guy with no shortage of talent, the best voice i have probably ever heard, im glad he started his career in Dublin, where im from.

  • Welles made four masterworks in his lifetime as a director. Citizen Kane and Chimes At Midnight are unsullied and exactly as intended – but AMBERSONS and TOUCH OF EVIL were butchered by the studio executives.

  • Elegant, Intelligent, Erudite, and Eloquent.
    Imagine this, as a life-long curse:
    You've made an entire career out of great movies, and great performances…
    …and they're all merely footnotes to your very first movie, made when you were in your early 20's, acted in, and directed by you…
    …and generally considered to be the Greatest Film of All Time.

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