Chimes at Midnight
|Chimes at Midnight|
Theatrical release poster.
|Directed by||Orson Welles|
|Produced by||Ángel Escolano and Emiliano Piedra
Harry Saltzman and Alessandro Tasca di Cuto
|Written by||Orson Welles|
|Based on||Five plays by William Shakespeare
Holinshed's Chronicles by Raphael Holinshed
|Narrated by||Ralph Richardson|
|Music by||Angelo Francesco Lavagnino|
|Editing by||Fritz Muller|
|Studio||Internacional Films Esrolano|
|Distributed by||Continental Film Distributors|
|Running time||119 minutes|
Chimes at Midnight (U.K. release: Falstaff, Spanish release: Campanadas a medianoche), is a 1966 English language Spanish-Swiss co-produced film directed by and starring Orson Welles. The film's plot centers on William Shakespeare's recurring character Sir John Falstaff and the father-son relationship he has with Prince Hal, who must choose between loyalty to Falstaff or to his father, King Henry IV.
Welles said that the core of the film's story was "the betrayal of friendship." It stars Welles as Falstaff, Keith Baxter as Prince Hal, John Gielgud as Henry IV, Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet and Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly. The script contains text from five Shakespeare plays: primarily Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2, but also Richard II, Henry V, and some dialogue from The Merry Wives of Windsor. Ralph Richardson's narration is taken from the works of chronicler Raphael Holinshed.
Welles had previously produced a Broadway stage adaptation of nine Shakespeare plays in 1939 called Five Kings. He later revived this project in Ireland as Chimes at Midnight in 1960, which was his final performance on the stage. Neither of these plays were successful, but Welles considered portraying Falstaff to be his life's ambition and turned the project into a film. Welles struggled to find financing throughout the film's production and at one point lied to producer Emiliano Piedra about intending to make a version of Treasure Island in order to get money. Welles shot Chimes at Midnight throughout Spain in 1964–65 and premiered it at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival, where it won two awards.
Initially dismissed by most film critics, Chimes at Midnight is now regarded as one of Welles' greatest achievements, and Welles himself called it his best work. Welles felt a strong connection to the character of Falstaff and called him "Shakespeare's greatest creation". Some film scholars and Welles's collaborators have made comparisons between Falstaff and Welles, while others see a resemblance between Falstaff and Welles's father. The ownership of Chimes at Midnight is currently in dispute, making it difficult to view the film legally.
The film opens with Sir John Falstaff and Justice Shallow walking through the snow, then to a warm fire inside the Boar's Head Tavern as the two reminisce. After a main credit sequence, the narrator explains that King Henry IV of England has succeeded Richard II, whom he had killed. Richard II's true heir, Edmund Mortimer, is a prisoner in Wales. Mortimer's cousins Northumberland, Worcester and Northumberland's son Hotspur demand that Henry IV rescues Mortimer. Henry IV refuses and Northumberland, Worcester and Hotspur begin to plot his overthrow.
To Henry IV's great dissatisfaction, his son Prince Hal spends most of his time at the Boar's Head Tavern drinking and carousing with prostitutes, thieves and other criminals under the influence of the patriarchal John Falstaff. Falstaff insists that he and Hal should think of themselves as gentlemen, but Hal warns Falstaff that one day he will reject both this lifestyle and Falstaff. The next morning Hal, Falstaff, Bardolph, Peto, and Poins put on disguises in Gadshill to prepare for the robbery of a group of traveling Pilgrims. After Falstaff, Bardolph and Peto rob the Pilgrims, Hal and Poins jump out in disguises and take the stolen treasure from Falstaff as a joke.
Back at the Boar's Head Tavern, Falstaff begins to tell Hal and Poins with increasingly growing exaggeration the story of how the stolen money was stolen from him. Hal and Poins poke holes in Falstaff's tall-tale until they reveal their joke to the entire group. In celebration of the newly recovered stolen treasure Falstaff and Hal take turns impersonating Henry IV, complete with a cooking pot crown and vocal impression. Falstaff's Henry IV chastises Hal for spending his time with common criminals, but names Sir John Falstaff as his one virtuous friend. Hal's Henry IV calls Falstaff a "misleader of youth."
Hal visits the King at the castle and Henry IV scolds him for his criminal and unethical lifestyle. Henry IV warns Hal about Hotspur's growing army and threat to his crown. Hal passionately vows to his unimpressed father that he will defend Henry IV and redeem his good name. The King's army, including Falstaff, parades through the streets and off to war. Before the battle Henry IV meets with Worchester and offers to forgive of all of Hotspur's men of treason if they surrender immediately. Hal vows to personally kill Hotspur. Worcester returns to his camp and lies to Hotspur, telling him that Henry IV intends to execute all traitors.
The two armies meet in the Battle of Shrewsbury, but Falstaff ends up hiding in the shrubs for most of the conflict. After a long and bloody fight, the king's men win. At the end of the battle, Hotspur and Hal meet alone and duel. Falstaff watches as Hal kills Hotspur. Henry IV sentences Worcester to death and takes his men as prisoners. Falstaff brings Hotspur's body to Henry IV, claiming that he killed Hotspur. Henry IV does not believe Falstaff but looks disapprovingly at Hal and the ignoble company that he chooses to keep.
The narrator explains that all of Henry IV's rebellious enemies have been killed by 1408, but that Henry IV's health has begun to deteriorate. At the castle Henry IV becomes upset when told that Hal is once again spending time with Falstaff and collapses. Hal visits the castle and discovers that Henry IV is sicker than he had realized. Hal vows to Henry IV to be a good and noble king. Henry IV finally has faith in Hal and gives him advice on how to be a king. Henry IV dies and Hal informs his men that he is now King Henry V.
Falstaff, Shallow and Silence sit in front of a warm fire, continuing from the first scene of the film. They receive news that Henry IV has died and that Hal's coronation is that morning. Falstaff becomes ecstatic and goes directly to the castle thinking that he will become a great and powerful nobleman under King Henry V. At the coronation Falstaff cannot contain his excitement and interrupts the entire ceremony, announcing himself to Hal. Hal turns his back on Falstaff and proclaims that he is now finished with his former lifestyle. As Falstaff looks up at Hal with a mixture of pride and despair, the new king banishes Falstaff. The coronation continues into the castle as Falstaff walks away, stating that he will be sent for that evening. That night Falstaff dies at the Boar's Head Tavern and his friends mourn him, saying that he died of a broken heart. The narrator explains that Hal went on to become a good and noble king.
- Orson Welles as Sir John Falstaff, a knight and father-figure to Prince Hal
- Keith Baxter as Prince Hal, the Prince of Wales and the heir to the throne of England
- John Gielgud as King Henry IV, the King of England
- Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet, a prostitute
- Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly, hostess of the Boar's Head Tavern
- Norman Rodway as Henry Percy, called Hotspur, Northumberland's son and second cousin of Edmund Mortimer
- Fernando Rey as Earl of Worcester,Leader of the Rebels. Northumberland's brother and cousin of Edmund Mortimer
- Marina Vlady as Kate Percy, Hotspur's wife
- Alan Webb as Justice Shallow, a country justice and old friend of Falstaff
- Walter Chiari as Justice Silence, a country justice
- Michael Aldridge as Pistol, a friend of Falstaff
- Tony Beckley as Ned Poins, a friend of Falstaff and Hal
- Andrew Faulds as Earl of Westmoreland, an Earl loyal to the King
- José Nieto as Earl of Northumberland, an Earl rebellious of the King and cousin of Edmund Mortimer
- Jeremy Rowe as Prince John, Henry IV's second son
- Beatrice Welles as Falstaff's Page, a servant
- Patrick Bedford as Bardolph, a friend of Falstaff and Hal
- Charles Farrell
- Fernando Hilbeck
- Andrés Mejuto
- Julio Peña
- Keith Pyott
- Ralph Richardson as The Narrator (voice)
Original stage productions 
Welles's inspiration for Chimes at Midnight can be traced back to 1930 when he was a student at the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois. Welles attempted to stage a three and a half hour combination of several of Shakespeare's historical plays called The Winter of Our Discontent in which he played Richard III. School officials eventually forced him to make cuts to the production. The direct origins of Chimes at Midnight began in 1939 when Welles wrote and partially staged the play Five Kings, an ambitious adaptation of several Shakespeare plays that chronicled the stories of Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III. The source plays included Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, Henry V, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, Henry VI, Part 3 and Richard III, a group of historical plays sometimes referred to as the War of the Roses cycle. The grouping of Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2 and Henry V are often referred to as the Henriad.
Five Kings (1939) 
Five Kings was announced as being part of the newly revived Mercury Theatre's second season in 1938. John Houseman had secured a partnership with the prestigious Theatre Guild to produce the play for $40,000, with an initial tour of Baltimore, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia before debuting on Broadway. Welles's intention was to stage only the first part of the play (primarily taken from Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V) during the tour while simultaneously rehearsing part two, and finally debuting the full production on Broadway. Houseman stated that the play's aim was "to combine the immediate quality of the Elizabethan with all the devices and techniques possible in the modern theatre." The cast included Welles as Falstaff, Burgess Meredith as Prince Hal, John Emery as Hotspur, Morris Ankrom as Henry IV and Robert Speaight as the Narrator. The play's music was composed by Aaron Copland. Welles commissioned an elaborate revolving set to be built, but it was not completed during the five weeks allotted to rehearsals.
Welles avoided attending the rehearsals or finishing the play's final script and instead was often out drinking and socializing with co-star Meredith. This resulted in the play only ever being rehearsed in fragments or specific scenes. The Baltimore performance was eventually dropped and at the first dress rehearsal in Boston it was discovered that the play was over five and a half hours long and contained 46 scenes. Welles cut 14 scenes and shortened others, which caused the built-in timer for the revolving set to be out of sync. Five Kings, Part 1 premiered at the Colonial Theatre in Boston on February 27, 1939 and was a disaster. Critics were either scathing or apologetic, and only the play's battle scenes received praise. By the end of the Boston run the Theatre Guild was on the verge of dropping the production and cancelled the D.C. engagement. Welles then cut the show down to three and a half hours. The play finally closed after only a few performances in Philadelphia and the Theatre Guild terminated its contract with the Mercury Theater. Photographs of the play's rehearsals show similarities to Chimes at Midnight, such as the Boar's Head tavern set and the character blocking of the "chimes at midnight" scene with Falstaff, Shallow and Silence.
Chimes at Midnight (1960) 
Welles returned to the project in 1960 with performances in Belfast and Dublin. This version, now retitled Chimes at Midnight, was produced by Welles's old friend Hilton Edwards through his Gate Theatre in Dublin. The cast included Welles as Falstaff, Keith Baxter as Prince Hal, Hilton Edwards as the Narrator, Reginald Jarman as Henry IV and Alexis Kanner as Hotspur. At one point Welles and Edwards wanted Micheál Mac Liammóir to replace Reginald Jarman as Henry IV, but Mac Liammóir would only accept the role of Prince Hal. Hilton Edwards was officially credited as director, but Welles is usually acknowledged as the actual director and was often the director throughout rehearsals. Welles's biological son Michael Lindsay-Hogg also worked on the play as an actor and as Hilton Edwards's personal assistant. Welles's opinion of Falstaff had only intensified since first playing the part. This new version focused more on the relationship between Falstaff and Prince Hal than on the historical story of Hal's defeat of Hotspur. Most of the scenes from Henry V used twenty years before were cut out. Welles's intention was to perform the play in Belfast, Dublin and eventually London before filming it in Yugoslavia.
Rehearsals began in Russell Square, London with a read through. After a week of rehearsing, Welles left to secure further funding and Edwards directed the play, working on blocking and lighting. Welles returned two days before the premiere and the cast had their first dress rehearsal, which lasted until 3 a.m. After premiering at the Grand Opera House in Belfast on February 13, 1960 and receiving a good review from a Variety correspondent, the play closed after five performances due to low attendance. It then moved to the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, where it fared no better. By the end of the second week, Welles had resorted to reading portions of the works of Irish author J. M. Synge and from Riders to the Sea in order to attract an audience. Eventually the play simply became a version of An Evening with Orson Welles, which would often include a Question & Answer section with the audience and Welles's solo performance of Moby Dick—Rehearsed or the works of Isak Dinesen.
Welles continued to tinker with the play throughout its short production, and at one point moved Mistress Quickly's speech about Falstaff's death to the very beginning of the play. Welles finally abandoned the entire project in late March when his friend Laurence Olivier offered him the chance to direct him in Eugène Ionesco's play Rhinoceros on the West End. According to Keith Baxter, Welles ended the play's run due to being bored with it and at one point told Baxter "This is only a rehearsal for the movie, Keith, and I'll never make it unless you play Hal in that too." Five years later Baxter was the only cast member from the play to appear in the film. Chimes at Midnight was Welles's final performance in a theatrical play.
In 1964 Welles met and befriended Spanish film producer Emiliano Piedra, who wanted to work with him. Piedra didn't think a Shakespearian film was marketable enough and proposed that Welles make a version of Treasure Island instead. Welles agreed to make Treasure Island only if he could simultaneously make Chimes at Midnight, and Piedra agreed not knowing that Welles had no intention of making the first film. Although some B-roll footage of the Alicante departing from port was shot early in the production, no scenes from Treasure Island were ever shot or even scripted. Welles was able to get away with this trick throughout pre-production by building sets that could be used in both films, such as Mistress Quickley's Boar's Head Tavern doubling as the Admiral Benbow Inn. Welles also officially cast each actor in both films, such as himself as Long John Silver, Baxter as Dr. Livesey, Tony Beckley as Israel Hands and John Gielgud as Squire Trelawney. Welles would eventually play Long John Silver in the unrelated 1972 film version of Treasure Island.
Welles claimed that the Boar's Head Tavern was the only full set built for the film, while all other sets were simply dressed or decorated on location. Welles stated that he personally designed, painted and blow-torched the set himself, as well as designing all of the film's costumes. Early in pre-production Welles was approached by Anthony Perkins to play the part of Prince Hal, but Welles had already promised the role to Keith Baxter. Hilton Edwards was initially cast as Justice Silence, but was replaced after becoming ill. The title Chimes at Midnight derives from Henry IV, Part 2, Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 228–229. In response to Justice Shallow's reminiscing of their long-past school days, Falstaff states: "We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow". Welles scholar Bridget Gellert Lyons has said that the film's title, "which is given further resonance by the repeated intoning of bells throughout the film, is associated for the audience with sadness and mortality more than youthful carousal."
The film was shot throughout Spain from September 1964 until April 1965, with a break in filming from late December until late February. Welles's limitations on the film included only having a budget of $800,000 and actors Jeanne Moreau and John Gielgud being available for five and ten days respectively, while Margaret Rutherford was only available for four weeks. He later joked that during one scene which included seven principal characters, all of the actors were unavailable and stand-ins were used for over-the-shoulder shots of all seven characters. Filming began in Colmenar and included all of John Gielgud's scenes. Welles then traveled to Cardona, where all of the Royal Court scenes and Marina Vlady's scenes were shot, and to Madrid's Casa de Campo Park, where the Gadshill robbery scene was shot. Madrid was also the location of the Boar's Head Tavern set and Welles shot all of Moreau's and Rutherford's scenes. After that the production traveled to Pedraza for some outdoor street scenes, and then to Soria in order to shoot in the snow for the opening shots. After shooting some scenes with Justice Shallow and Justice Silence in the Basque country, Welles returned to Madrid in December to shoot the battle scenes in Casa de Campo Park for ten days.
By late December Welles had run out of money and the film was put on hold while he searched for additional funding, however some small scenes were shot during the break. Welles later claimed that he had rejected offers for funding that were conditioned on shooting the film in color. Welles eventually secured funding from Harry Saltzman and production officially resumed in late February with most of Keith Baxter's longer speeches and the Coronation scene in Madrid. From March until April Welles finished up the film with filler shots, close-ups, the final rejection scene and most of Falstaff's speeches. According to Keith Baxter, Welles had stage fright and delayed all of his scenes until the very end of filming, except for scenes that included other actors. Welles was timid about shooting his love scene with Moreau and a double was used whenever possible. Other filming locations included the Chateau Calatanazar, Puerta de San Vincente and the Soria Cathedral. Welles was harsh with his crew members and according to actor Andrew Faulds "he spoke in five different languages to them and was pretty offensive — very demanding. I suppose he'd worked out that if you bullied actors, you didn't get the best from them whereas, to hell with the technicians. They had to do as they were told, and pretty quick." A scene depicting the assassination of King Richard II, originally intended to open the film, was cut.
Keith Baxter has insisted that the film's soundtrack was post-dubbed months after filming was completed, and that actors Fernando Rey and Marina Vlady were dubbed by different actors because of their heavy accents. Baxter also stated that such actors as himself, Welles and Michael Aldridge recorded voices for several characters in post-production. One scene that used the original soundtrack was Mistress Quickly's speech after Falstaff's death, which was disrupted by the audible hum of a power generator. However, Welles liked Margaret Rutherford's performance enough to keep it. The score was composed by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, who had previously worked with Welles on Othello. The Italian studio where the score was recorded paid Lavagnino for his work on the film in exchange for the rights to the music and later released a soundtrack album in Italy and the UK. During the editing, Welles showed a rough cut to the visiting head of the Cannes Film Festival. The festival head immediately wanted to include the film in the festival, requiring that Welles finish the editing at a faster pace than he preferred.
Welles had originally wanted the entire film to use high contrast cinematography, resembling the old engravings of the Middle Ages; only the opening title sequence uses this technique. The film's most famous sequence is the Battle of Shrewsbury. No more than 180 extras were ever available and Welles used editing techniques to give the appearance of armies of thousands. Welles also shot all of the battle scenes in long takes, but ended up cutting the shots into fragments to create the effect that he wanted. It took ten days to shoot the scenes and six weeks to edit what eventually became a six-minute sequence. In the sequence Welles often used hand-held cameras, wide-angles lenses, slow motion and speed up shots, static shots, swish pans and constant rapid movement of the characters to create a kinetic and chaotic atmosphere. Anderegg has said that "in the end, both armies have become one huge, awkward, disintegrating war machine, a grotesque robot whose power source slowly begins to fail and finally comes to a frozen halt. Verbal rhetoric—language itself—seems, for the moment, both irrelevant and obscene."
The Battle of Shrewsbury sequence has often been called an anti-war statement and likened to contemporary films like Dr. Strangelove and Culloden. Shakespearean scholar Daniel Seltzer has said that "the social consciousness of the movie is as alert as Shakespeare's, and thematically pertinent in Shakespearean terms too:...the footage of the Battle of Shrewsbury itself must be some of the finest, truest, ugliest scenes of warfare ever shot and edited for a movie." Welles scholar James Naremore said that "the underlying eroticism of the chivalric code...is exposed in all its cruel perversity." Tony Howard has argued that Welles used Shakespeare's historical plays "to denounce modern political hypocrisy and militarism."
Due to budgetary constraints, both the on-set and post-production sound was poorly recorded. Anderegg has asserted that this, in combination with Welles' fast-paced camera movements and editing, makes the Shakespearean dialogue more difficult to understand. Many scenes are shot in long shots or with character's backs facing the camera, most likely for practical purposes when actors were not present, creating more sound problems. "In effect," Anderegg writes, "Welles generates a constant tension between what we see and what we hear, a tension that points to the ambiguous status of language in its relation to action." During the Battle of Shrewsbury sequence Welles used a complex and layered soundtrack that included the sounds of swords and armor clanking, soldiers grunting and screaming, bones breaking, boots in the mud and the film's musical score to add to the chaos of the scene.
Interpretation of Shakespeare 
Welles's adaptation of five Shakespeare plays was not a chronological transcription of the original texts. Shakespearean scholar Kenneth S. Rothwell has said that Welles "goes beyond mere tinkering with Shakespeare's scenes; [he] massively reworks, transposes, revises and deletes, indeed reconstructs them." These changes included taking lines of dialogue from one play and inserting them into scenes from a different play. Specific changes include a scene near the end of the film where Welles slightly alters a scene from Henry V, Act 2, Scene 2 in which Hal pardons an imprisoned street rabble-rouser just before his expedition to invade France. In the film it is stated that this man is Falstaff, and that the incident he is pardoning is Falstaff's disturbance of Hal's coronation. Although both the pardoned prisoner and Falstaff are said to drink wine, Shakespeare does not imply that the pardoned prisoner is Falstaff. In both Chimes at Midnight and in Henry V, this scene is followed by the death of Falstaff. Another difference from Shakespeare is the fact that the film contains no true soliloquies, since characters are never alone and do not speak directly to the audience during their speeches. Henry IV is usually shot standing or sitting with very little action involved—this, says Anderegg, makes it appear that he seems to speak only to himself even when others are present. Gielgud was known for his classical interpretation of Shakespeare and his performance consists almost entirely of words, which are unable to defeat either Northumberland's rebels or Hal's wild behavior. Throughout the film Falstaff, Hal and Hotspur all imitate Gielgud, mocking the words of Henry IV.
Critical response 
Chimes at Midnight premiered to a positive audience reception at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival; however, after New York Times critic Bosley Crowther's unfavorable advance review, American distributor Harry Saltzman decided to give the film little publicity and minimal distribution when it was released in the U.S. the next year. On its initial release, critical reception was mostly negative; the film was not regarded as one of Welles's best until years later. Crowther criticized the film's poor audio track and called it "a confusing patchwork of scenes and characters ... designed to give major exposure to Jack Falstaff." Welles's performance, he said, was "a dissolute, bumbling street-corner Santa Claus." Penelope Houston called it "a film which seems to turn its back on brilliance." A Time review also criticized Welles, stating that "[he] is probably the first actor in the history of the theater to appear too fat for the role...he takes command of scenes less with spoken English than with body English", but that he is "never entirely bad."
On the other hand, Judith Crist praised the film as "stark, simple, concentrating on word and performance, serv[ing] as a reminder of where the substance of the play lies." Pauline Kael also criticized the poor sound, but gave a favorable review overall, singling out the film's casting and calling Welles's performance "very rich, very full." She also called the Battle of Shrewsbury sequence "unlike any battle scene done on the screen before." Cahiers du Cinema critic Serge Daney also praised both the film and Welles's ability to make great films on the subject of power. Roger Ebert praised the film then and now as "a magnificent film, clearly among Welles' greatest work."
Welles held Chimes at Midnight in high regard and considered it to be, along with The Trial, his best work. In 1982 he told BBC Arena "If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that's the one I'd offer up...because it is, to me, the least flawed...[and] the most successful for what I tried to do. I succeeded more completely with that, in my view, than with anything else." He also considered it to be his most personal film, along with The Magnificent Ambersons. Many critics, including Peter Bogdanovich and Jonathan Rosenbaum, also consider Chimes at Midnight to be his finest work. Several years after its initial release, film critic Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that Chimes at Midnight "may be the greatest Shakespearean film ever made, bar none." Joseph McBride has called it "Welles's masterpiece, the fullest, most completely realized expression of everything he had been working towards since Citizen Kane." Welles was disappointed with the film's reception, complaining that "almost nobody has seen it in America, and that drives me nuts."
The Battle of Shrewsbury sequence has been particularly admired, serving as an inspiration for movies like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan. It has also been compared to the Odessa Steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin and the Battle on the Ice sequence in Alexander Nevsky, both directed by Sergei Eisenstein. Kenneth Branagh's Henry V not only used the Battle of Shrewsbury sequence as an inspiration for the Battle of Agincourt, but also depicted Prince Hal's rejection of Falstaff in a way that was more influenced by Chimes at Midnight than from more traditional interpretations of the scene. In 1988 director Patrick Garland staged a version of Chimes at Midnight at the Chichester Festival Theatre starring Simon Callow as Falstaff. Michael Anderegg has asserted that Chimes at Midnight influenced My Own Private Idaho, Gus Van Sant's 1991 loose adaptation of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, due to its use of wide angle lenses, low-key lighting and costumes and its focus on the relationship between Falstaff and Prince Hal.
In 2011 Bonham's Auction House sold a large archive of Welles material that had once belonged to the film's executive producer Alessandro Tasca di Cuto. Most of the material was from Chimes at Midnight and included original artwork by Welles, photographs and memos. This collection was later donated to the University of Michigan for scholarly study.
At the Cannes Film Festival, Chimes at Midnight was screened in competition for the Palme d'Or and won two special awards: the 20th Anniversary Prize and the Technical Grand Prize. Welles was nominated for a BAFTA award for Best Foreign Actor in 1968 and in Spain the film won the Citizens Writers Circle Award for Best Film in 1966.
Home media 
Due to legal disputes over the rights, Chimes at Midnight has only been released twice on video in the United States, both exclusively on VHS. Neither is currently in print. Among those who have claimed ownership of the film over the years are: Harry Saltzman's widow Adriana Saltzman; the families of producers Emiliano Piedra and Angel Escolano; and the estate of Orson Welles, maintained by Beatrice Welles. The film is currently available as an all regions DVD from Brazil. Mr Bongo Records screened a restored version in the UK at Picturehouse Cinemas on August 1, 2011.
Welles and Falstaff 
Welles's views on Sir John Falstaff 
Welles considered Falstaff to be "Shakespeare's greatest creation" and said that the role was "the most difficult part I've ever played." Keith Baxter believed that making the film was Welles's life's ambition. Before the 1939 Boston premiere of Five Kings, Welles told journalists "I will play him as a tragic figure. I hope, of course, he will be funny to the audience, just as he was funny to those around him. But his humor and wit were aroused merely by the fact that he wanted to please the prince. Falstaff, however, had the potential of greatness in him." Reviews for the 1939 play mention Welles' choice to downplay the traditional comedic elements of Falstaff in his performance. This reverence for the character increased over the years and by the time Welles made Chimes at Midnight his focus was now entirely on the relationship between Falstaff, Hal and Henry IV. He believed that the core of the story was "the betrayal of friendship." Welles called Hal's rejection of Falstaff "one of the greatest scenes ever written, so the movie is really a preparation for it. Everything prepares for it." Throughout the film Hal is constantly turning his back on Falstaff, foreshadowing the film's ending.
Welles explained that "the film was not intended as a lament for Falstaff, but for the death of Merrie England. Merrie England as a conception, a myth which has been very real to the English-speaking world, and is to some extent expressed in other countries of the Medieval epoch: the age of chivalry, of simplicity, of Maytime and all that. It is more than Falstaff who is dying. It's the old England dying and betrayed." Many film theorists and Welles biographers have noted the recurrent theme of the "Lost Eden" in Welles's work and of character's who are nostalgic for an idealized past, which Welles called "the central theme in Western culture." Welles elaborated to Peter Bogdanovich that "even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive of such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit." Film scholar Beverle Houston argued that this nostalgia made Welles's depiction of Falstaff infantile and called his performance a "[p]ower baby...an eating, sucking, foetus-like creature." Welles also called Falstaff "the greatest conception of a good man, the most completely good man, in all of drama", and said that "the closer I thought I was getting to Falstaff the less funny he seemed to me. When I played him before in the theater, he seemed more witty than comical. And in bringing him to the screen, I found him only occasionally, and only deliberately, a clown."
Welles's personal connections to Sir John Falstaff 
Keith Baxter compared Welles to Falstaff, since they were both perpetually short of money, often lied and cheated people to get what they needed and were always merry and fun loving. Film scholar Jack Jorgens also compared Welles to Falstaff, stating that "to a man who directed and starred in a masterpiece and has since staggered through three decades of underfinanced, hurried, flawed films, scores of bit parts, narrations, and interviews which debased his talent, dozens of projects which died for want of persistence and financing, the story of a fat, aging jester exiled from his audience and no longer able to triumph over impossible obstacles with wit and torrential imagination might well seem tragic." When Joss Ackland played Falstaff on the stage in 1982, he claimed that he was more inspired by Welles himself than by Welles's performance as Falstaff, stating that "like Falstaff, I believe he could have achieved so much, but it was frittered away." Kenneth S. Rothwell has called Hal's rejection of Falstaff allegorical to Hollywood's rejection of Welles. Welles had become deeply depressed in the late 1950s after the disappointment of making Touch of Evil, his intended Hollywood comeback.
Welles's biographer Simon Callow has compared Falstaff to Welles's father Richard Head Welles, stating that like Falstaff, Welles's father was "a drunkard, a trickster, a braggart, a womanizer, a gentleman and a charmer — and he is rejected by the person he loves the most." Welles's father was an alcoholic and womanizer who would often take a teenage Welles along with him when he was indulging in his vices. Welles observed his father much like Falstaff is observed by Hal and depends on his young protégé to bail him out of trouble. The love-triangle between Prince Hal and his two father figures, Henry IV and Falstaff, is also similar to Welles's relationships with his father and the two men who became surrogate fathers to him: family friend Dr. Maurice Bernstein and Todd School for Boys headmaster Roger Hill. Both of Welles's surrogate fathers disapproved of Richard Welles's lifestyle and negative influence on Welles. When he was fifteen Welles took the advice of Roger Hill and told his father that he would not see him again until he cleaned up his act and stopped drinking. Welles's father died shortly afterwards, alone and lonely, and Welles always blamed himself for his father's death, stating "I always thought I killed him."
Welles's biological son Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who was born out-of-wedlock to Welles and actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, first meet Welles when he was 15 and later worked on the 1960 stage play Chimes at Midnight. This was the only significant amount of time that the two spent together and afterwards Lindsay-Hogg only saw Welles sporadically. Like Welles, Lindsay-Hogg had two surrogate fathers in addition to his biological father. In the late 1950s Welles's eldest daughter Christopher Welles Feder cut off all ties with Welles at the age of 16 under pressure from her mother, who disapproved of Welles's influence on her. Welles and Feder later reconnected but their relationship never fully recovered. Welles's youngest daughter Beatrice, who resembles her father as a young boy, appears in the film version of Chimes at Midnight.
- Anderegg, Michael (1999). Orson Welles, Shakespeare and Popular Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-11228-9.
- Callow, Simon (1996). Orson Welles, Volume 1: The Road to Xanadu. New York: Viking Penguin. ISBN 0-670-86722-5.
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- Chimes at Midnight at the Internet Movie Database
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- Chimes at Midnight at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Roger Ebert "Great Movies" review
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- Google Video
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