Three years before making the seminal Citizen Kane, writer/actor/director Orson Welles shot a silent film entitled Too Much Johnson, originally intended as background to a multimedia stage adaptation of the 19th century play of the same name. The film was never finished, nor was it exhibited publicly, it’s only print thought burned. 75 years later, the picture will finally see the light of day. Incredibly, a print was discovered in an Italian warehouse, and the film will screen in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, a silent film festival in Pordenone, on October 9th. A U.S. debut will follow a week later in Rochester, New York.
Wells made the film in the same year of his famous War of the Worlds radio drama. Though only in his early twenties, he’d already begun to make a splash on the theater scene before bursting onto the cinema landscape with Citizen Kane in 1941.
Too Much Johnson, a comedy, follows the misadventures of Augustus Billings, a womanizer chased across Manhattan by the angry husband of one of his former paramours. The film will a total runtime of about 40 minutes, originally split across three segments (again, to accompany a live play).