Just clearing up some more information on in “Yes, Always”, the funny/sad Orson Welles recording we linked to the other day. Much more info has come to light via the comments section. Here at fudgeland is a link to a LONGER version of the tape that includes Welles asking “What is a gonk?” And also, shhhhh, a link to some Pinky and the Brain goodness.
Finally, this interview with the voice of The Brain, Maurice LaMarche explains why they did it — he used to drive around listening to the tape endless and knew it by heart.
It was brilliant. It was absolutely brilliant. And I couldn’t stop listening to it, and I put it in my tape player in my car and literally listened to the thing. I had auto-reverse, so I just never took it out. Whenever I started my car, no matter where it was, I listened, and of course learned to ape it perfectly. And from there, there was one time – the first time that I was in a session that was going too long, and I just went… jokingly, I went, “What is it you want? In your depths of your ignorance, what is it you want?” And they looked at me for a second. The director looked at me for a second. The engineer stared. And all of a sudden they burst out laughing and went, “Oh, you’re doing that tape! Oh, it’s great!” And really, I was like just expressing myself, wishing I was Welles, wishing I had the facility to… this guy’s not gonna let me in.
We should note that here at SBM we’re pretty much obsessed with Orson Welles. If we had a time machine, we’d go back and rescue the lost cut of THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS that included the great tracking shot at the end.
Alarmed by advance reports that Ambersons was too bleak for an audience that would be seeking escape from wartime stress, RKO test-screened the full version. Predictably, the film tested too “down beat,” allowing the studio to order self-justified cuts and re-shoots. Welles, making a documentary in Latin America at the time, was aware of the mess. Despite having ample opportunity to defend an ending he had added to the novel (which had Joseph Cotten visiting the superb Agnes Moorehead in a nursing home), Welles entrusted the editing and re-shoots to his editor Robert “Sound of Music” Wise. RKO had Wise shoot an entirely different ending.
The whereabouts of the excised 44 minutes are unknown. Though the script survives, gone for good is a decidely more powerful final sequence that included extensive tracking shots showing the now-empty, dead Amberson mansion. Surviving in truncated form, The Magnificent Ambersons retains a haunted, elegant feel that takes the viewer inside an era Hollywood has largely sidestepped. This is Orson Welles’ lost movie, one he might have been able to rescue, had he been less brash — and a film he and others believed to be superior to Citizen Kane.
Alas, we will never know.