An Evening with Orson Welles

An Evening with Orson Welles is a series of six short films created in 1970 by Orson Welles, for the exclusive use of Sears, Roebuck & Co. Welles produced the recitations of popular stories for Sears's Avco Cartrivision machines, a pioneering home video system.[1]:166 Five of the films are regarded as lost; footage from one, The Golden Honeymoon, is known to exist.

An Evening with Orson Welles
Directed byOrson Welles
Written byOrson Welles
StarringOrson Welles
CinematographyGary Graver
Distributed bySears and Roebuck
Running time
Six films 30 minutes each
CountryUnited States


In 1970, after he had begun filming The Other Side of the Wind, Orson Welles was contacted by Sears and hired to make a series of half-hour short films that would be available for rental by subscription. Welles wrote, directed and acted in six 30-minute recitations including Ring Lardner's The Golden Honeymoon, Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, writings by G. K. Chesterton and P. G. Wodehouse, and speeches by Socrates and Clarence Darrow. The films were available exclusively through Sears, on special tapes that could be used only with the retailer's high-end Cartrivision — cartridge television — home video machines.[1]:18, 166

Cinematographer Gary Graver photographed the half-hour videos beginning August 31, 1970, shortly after he met Welles.[2]:439

"We shot them in a little studio inside Orson's house on Lawlen Way," Graver wrote in his posthumously published memoir, Making Movies with Orson Welles (2008):

Shooting the shorts for Sears was a simple job. We finished them and sent them off. But we never received any feedback and we never heard anything about them again. Now, in hindsight, I wish I'd saved copies of those, since they seem to have completely disappeared from the face of the earth! Only one of those shorts, Ring Lardner's The Golden Honeymoon, is known to exist today. I would love to see those again.[1]:19

What footage survives from the short film The Golden Honeymoon has been supplemented by audio from the 1946 Mercury Theatre radio play.[1]:166 Other titles that appeared on Cartrivision cassettes were American Heritage, Vol. 1, American Heritage, Vol. II, Noah and Socrates, and My Little Boy.[3]

See also


  1. Graver, Gary, with Andrew J. Rausch, Making Movies with Orson Welles; A Memoir. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8108-6140-4
  2. Welles, Orson, and Peter Bogdanovich, edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum, This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers 1992 ISBN 0-06-016616-9
  3. Purchase List, Cartrivision advertising supplement to the Oakland Tribune, June 10, 1973

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