Orson Welles’ “Johnson” Found In Italy

A 35mm nitrate work print of Orson Welles’ long-lost 1939 slapstick short film “Too Much Johnson” has been recovered.

Welles made the never completed short for his Mercury Theatre’s stage production of William Gillette’s 19th century comedy of the same name.

The plan was to show three short films as prologues to each act of the three-part slapstick comedy. It was never confirmed why the project was never completed, though the stage production was a flop.

A then 23-year-old Welles directed the work the same year he presented his infamous radio production of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”. Two years later he created his revered 1941 cinematic classic “Citizen Kane”.

Until recently, the only known print of the film was destroyed in a fire at Welles’ home near Madrid in 1970. This newly discovered print was located in a warehouse in Pordenone, Italy, by staff from the film exhibition organization Cinemazero.

One of the reels was badly decomposed, but a preservation lab in the Netherlands was able to save 96% of the footage. Premieres will take place in October and the film could be released online towards the end of the year.

Source: The Los Angeles Times