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As film lore tells us, director Orson Welles made his feature film debut with "Citizen Kane," widely considered to be the greatest movie of all time.

But as it turns out, "Citizen Kane" wasn't Welles's first film; he made a three-part slapstick comedy called "Too Much Johnson" in 1938 that was never seen by the public. The trio of short, silent films were meant to be screened as part of Welles's production of an 1894 William Gillette farce -- but the director never finished editing the footage, and the play closed early after terrible previews.

For years, film scholars have been intrigued by Welles's first movie project, but there was no known print in existence. Until now.

A copy of "Too Much Johnson" was unearthed in an Italian warehouse and is being restored at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York. "Too Much Johnson" will get a world premiere on October 9 at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, an Italian silent film festival, then get screened at the Eastman House a week later on October 16.

Said Paolo Cherchi Usai, senior curator of film at the George Eastman House, "Holding in one's hands the very same print that had been personally edited by Orson Welles 75 years ago provokes an emotion that's just impossible to describe."

[via NY Times, Variety]

Orson Welles Biography
CATEGORIES Movies