The Other Side Of The Wind was neither Orson Welles’ last directorial effort, nor the last project he started, but it has achieved a legendary status among the multihyphenate’s many, many unfinished projects, on account of its ambition and the convoluted legal issues that have prevented its completion. Unlike the earlier, similarly incomplete The Deep—Welles’ attempt at a commercial thriller, based on the same source material as the 1989 thriller Dead Calm—The Other Side Of The Wind was an overtly personal project, the story of an aging, narcissistic macho director who attempts to make a comeback by directing an oblique, erotic art film. Like Citizen Kane, the film is framed around the death of the protagonist, Jake Hannaford (John Huston), and probes his life story using flashbacks, mockumentaries, and scenes from his unfinished final work.
Welles shot the movie in pieces from 1970 to 1976 on money provided by the brother-in-law of the Shah of Iran. He had already had a falling out with his producers—who refused to pay for post-production—by the time the Iranian Revolution toppled the Shah. From there, things only get more complicated, with the elements and rights necessary to complete the film scattering between feuding parties, including Welles’ daughter Beatrice, who manages his estate; his partner Oja Kodar, who manages his unfinished work; and the Iranian-French production company that has been keeping the movie’s negative in a Paris vault for the last few decades.
Now, The New York Times is reporting that these parties have reached an agreement that will allow for the completion of the film, with a premiere tentatively set for May 6, 2015, the 100th anniversary of Welles’ birth. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s only the latest in a long line of completion plans that stretches back to the 1990s, when Showtime offered to fund the project. Most recently, Peter Bogdanovich––who co-starred as Hannaford’s Peter Bogdanovich-like protege––tried to finish the movie.
However, this newest completion plan seems to have some legs. Brokered by producer Frank Marshall, who got his start as a crew member on the movie, the deal involves distributor Royal Road buying the rights from all three parties. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.