Welles consciously conceived The Big Brass Ring as a companion piece to his masterpiece Citizen Kane. Here he is again concerned with the idea of the great man, and with what happens at the convergence of great talent, public ambition and the undertow of obscure, private longings rooted in the past.
As director and actor Welles needs no introduction, but his brilliance as a writer has yet to receive its due. The Big Brass Ring allows us the rare privilege of hearing his voice, resonant and unmistakable, still in the present, addressing us directly; it is a startling, exhilarating experience. Supplemented by Welles's frequent and fulsome asides on the plot and his characters' backgrounds, as well as scenic and shooting directions, this tragicomic thriller, written with almost demonic energy, reads as richly and at least as vividly as any novel.
A film of The Big Brass Ring, its script heavily edited, appeared in 1999, with William Hurt in the lead role.
'The script in its present form, with its witty and extensive stage directions, gives a tremendous sense of what it might have been like in the company of the great raconteur himself. The whole script is sexier than almost anything else of his output too, and the authors have taken great care to let us "see" what the film might have been enthralling, sexy, funny, and politically as trenchant as anything being made today.'
'The screenplay registers like a living, breathing, finished work on the page, almost as if Welles suspected it might not be allowed to live elsewhere…one of the most remarkable and revealing works in the entire Welles canon.'
Sight and Sound
'More than a footnote to a brilliant career; it is a playful, witty and moving tale of hollow ambition, lost love and loyal friendship stands in its own right, either as a surprisingly readable cine-novella or, for Welles scholars, as a valuable insight into the filmmaker's personal and artistic preoccupations.'
With a foreword by James Pepper and an essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum.
Paperback 160pp, ISBN 0 948238 16 X; £9.95