The Many Literary Adaptations of Orson Welles

It’s notable that in My Lunches With Orson — the collection of taped conversations between Orson Welles and Henry Jaglom in the last years of the Citizen Kane director’s life — Welles mentions writers Jean-Paul Sartre, Jorge Luis Borges, Dwight Macdonald, James Agee, Joan Didion, and John O’Hara… but in the capacity of their film criticism, not their novels or nonfiction. Reading the conversations, it becomes clear that Welles was a big reader and obviously had a love for great literature — something also evidenced by the many film adaptations of literature he had a hand in. Here’s a selection of the most interesting.


Don Quixote

Terry Gilliam may have documented his own failed attempt at bringing Cervantes’ novel to the screen, but Welles is sort of the standard-bearer when it comes to trying and failing to bring Sancho Panza to the silver screen. It took nearly 20 years, and the death of Francisco Reiguera, the actor playing Quixote, before Welles finally gave up.