The long-awaited release of The Other Side of the Wind wasn’t the only piece of Orson Welles history that cinephiles have been clamoring for in the decades since the legendary director’s passing. While many directors are still obsessed with recreating moments of his life on the big screen, one of his actual films has yet to see the light of day in its fully realized form. The film in question is, of course, The Magnificent Ambersons, and now the best chance yet of finding the lost footage is on the horizon.
For a quarter of a century, Joshua Grossberg has attempted to track down the footage, amounting to 43 minutes in length, cut by RKO when Welles lost control of post-production. Now, as others attempt to recreate some of the footage using animation, Grossberg has received the backing of none other than TCM to actually find the lost prints.
In advance of the 80th anniversary of the theatrical cut of the film next year, TCM is sponsoring Grossberg’s trip to Brazil, where he believes the footage may exist considering reels were sent to Welles there in 1942. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we will find the print,” Grossberg told Wellesnet, while also saying this trip “is our last, best chance of finding the original version of The Magnificent Ambersons.”
He added, “Considering the missing full-length version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was discovered in an Argentine museum in 2008, it’s entirely possible the lost print of Ambersons survives somewhere in Brazil. To finally be able to track down the leads I developed is exciting and I’m grateful to TCM for their support.”
The journey, along with the history of Ambersons, will be captured in Grossberg’s long-planned documentary The Search for the Lost Print: The Making of Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, which TCM will release in July 2022, along with––fingers crossed––a newly restored Orson Welles cut of The Magnificent Ambersons if the adventure yields the sought-after treasure they are looking for.
Check out a sizzle reel for the documentary below and more information on the search at Wellesnet.