Orson Welles is one of the most famous actors and filmmakers who ever lived.

Even if you’ve never seen any of his movies, you’ve probably at least heard of a few.

He starred in classics like Citizen Kane and The Third Man, but he also directed some fantastic films of his own like Kane and others.

The best Orson Welles movies prove that he was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

After his incredible debut in Citizen Kane, Welles continued to push the boundaries of film by making bold political statements and redefining the way stories were told on screen.

Many of these films – especially his international classics like Chimes at Midnight and Touch of Evil – have benefited from modern restorations, allowing them to be seen in their intended form, while other films like The Other Side of the Wind remain almost completely unseen.

Best Orson Welles Movies

Here’s our list of the awesome films of Orson Welles. Bit of a tongue twister, that!

Without further ado, here’s the best Orson Welles movies.

F for Fake (1973)

F for Fake is a riveting and masterful work of art from the legendary filmmaker Orson Welles.

This documentary-style film explores the concepts of truth, authenticity, and deception through the lives and stories of several fascinating characters, including famous art forger Elmyr de Hory and his biographer Clifford Irving.

Welles weaves together a complex and intriguing narrative that blurs the lines between fact and fiction, leaving the viewer questioning what is real and what is fabricated.

The stunning visuals and captivating storytelling keep the audience engaged from start to finish, with Welles effortlessly switching between different styles and techniques.

The film is a true masterpiece of the genre, showcasing Welles’ unparalleled talent and creativity as a filmmaker.

It is a must-watch for anyone interested in the art of cinema, as well as those curious about the complexities of human nature and the power of storytelling.

F for Fake (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, Joseph Cotton (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

“The Magnificent Ambersons” is a masterpiece of classic Hollywood filmmaking. Directed by the legendary Orson Welles, this film tells the story of a once-great family’s decline in a rapidly changing world.

The beautiful cinematography and exquisite set design transport the audience to a bygone era, and the top-notch performances by the cast bring the characters to life with all their flaws and complexities.

The film’s haunting score adds an extra layer of emotional depth to the already powerful storytelling.

While the movie’s ending may leave some wanting more closure, it’s a testament to Welles’ vision that the film remains a powerful and thought-provoking piece of cinema more than 75 years after its initial release.


“The Magnificent Ambersons” is a must-see for any film lover looking for a poignant and beautifully crafted story.

The Magnificent Ambersons (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt, Agnes Moorehead (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Touch of Evil (1958)

Touch of Evil is a classic film noir masterpiece that delivers suspense, intrigue, and a powerful message about corruption and justice.

From the opening shot, director Orson Welles plunges the audience into a gritty and dangerous world, where the line between good and evil is blurred.

The film follows the investigation of a murder in a border town between the US and Mexico, and the complex web of deceit and manipulation that surrounds it.

Charlton Heston gives a strong and convincing performance as the Mexican detective trying to solve the case, but it is Welles himself who steals the show as the corrupt and manipulative police captain.

The cinematography is stunning, with long tracking shots and unconventional camera angles that add to the film’s tension and atmosphere.

The use of light and shadow is particularly effective, creating a sense of claustrophobia and unease.

Touch of Evil is a film that demands multiple viewings, as the intricacies of the plot and the layers of meaning become more apparent with each watch.

It is a testament to the power of cinema and a must-see for anyone interested in the film noir genre.

Touch of Evil [Blu-ray]
  • Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director) - Orson Welles (Writer) - Albert Zugsmith (Producer)
  • French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)


Best Orson Welles Movies

Who Is orson welles?

Orson Welles was born on May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. After his parents divorced when he was 4 years old, he and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois.

He graduated from the Todd Seminary for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois, in 1931 and later attended the Todd School of Expression in Chicago.

In 1933, he found work with an acting company and toured with them until 1937. He then moved to New York City to seek acting work.

Trouble began to follow Welles as soon as he began working professionally as an actor.

In 1934, during a benefit performance of Julius Caesar that Welles directed at the Mercury Theatre in New York City, one of the extras in the crowd turned out to be a member of the National Guard who was incensed by what he considered a subversive and unpatriotic presentation of Shakespeare’s play.

The ensuing riot led to Welles’ brief arrest and caused him to lose a job as assistant stage manager for Broadway’s Federal Theatre Project.

On November 11-12, 1938, Welles staged his production of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds over the radio–a dramatization of an invasion from Mars that convinced many listeners that Earth really was under attack by aliens.



Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane is a true masterpiece of American cinema, directed by the legendary Orson Welles.

The film tells the story of Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy and powerful newspaper magnate whose life is explored through a series of flashbacks after his death.

The film’s innovative use of non-linear storytelling, deep focus cinematography, and striking visual imagery make it a true cinematic tour de force.

Welles delivers a career-defining performance as the enigmatic Kane, whose rise to power and subsequent downfall is both captivating and tragic.

The supporting cast, including Joseph Cotten and Dorothy Comingore, are equally impressive, bringing depth and nuance to their respective roles.

The film’s themes of power, wealth, and the corrupting influence of both are as relevant today as they were in 1941.

Citizen Kane is a film that demands multiple viewings to fully appreciate its brilliance, and it remains a towering achievement in the history of cinema. Highly recommended.

Citizen Kane (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Macbeth (1948)

Macbeth is a haunting adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, directed by Orson Welles.

Welles’ signature style is on full display here, with the use of shadows and light creating a dark and eerie atmosphere that perfectly suits the story.

The performances are top-notch, with Welles himself delivering a powerful and magnetic portrayal of the titular character.

His Macbeth is both ruthless and vulnerable, a man consumed by his own ambition and haunted by the ghosts of his past.

Jeanette Nolan is also excellent as Lady Macbeth, bringing a fiery intensity to the role that perfectly complements Welles’ performance.

The cinematography is stunning, with Welles and cinematographer John L. Russell using innovative camera techniques to create a sense of unease and foreboding.

The use of deep focus and long takes adds to the film’s immersive quality, drawing the viewer deeper into the story.

Macbeth [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Jon Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw (Actors)
  • Roman Polanski (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

The Immortal Story (1968)

The Immortal Story is a hauntingly beautiful film that tells the story of a wealthy merchant who hires a young sailor to help him fulfill his lifelong dream of creating his own version of a legend.

Directed by the legendary Orson Welles, this film is a masterpiece of atmospheric storytelling, with every frame filled with rich symbolism and poetic beauty.

The performances in The Immortal Story are absolutely mesmerizing, with Jeanne Moreau delivering a stunning portrayal of the merchant’s mistress, and Welles himself giving a powerful performance as the enigmatic and mysterious merchant.

The film is shot in stunning black and white, with Welles using light and shadow to create a powerful sense of atmosphere and mood.

The Immortal Story is not a film for everyone, as its slow pace and dreamlike narrative may not appeal to those looking for a more straightforward story.

The Immortal Story (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Norman Eshley (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

The Stranger (1946)

The Stranger is a classic film noir that delivers a gripping tale of deception, betrayal, and redemption.

This Orson Welles directed film follows the story of a war crimes investigator who tracks down a notorious Nazi war criminal who has taken on a new identity in a small town in Connecticut.

The film boasts of brilliant performances from its cast, particularly from Edward G. Robinson who plays the relentless investigator and Loretta Young who plays the unsuspecting wife of the Nazi.

Orson Welles himself delivers a chilling performance as the Nazi war criminal, showcasing his acting prowess and his directorial talent.

The cinematography of the film is another standout feature, with its use of shadows and lighting to create a sense of tension and danger.

The suspenseful score also adds to the film’s overall atmosphere, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats until the very end.

The Stranger
  • Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, Loretta Young (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Mr. Arkadin (1955)

Mr. Arkadin is an enigmatic and captivating film that leaves you guessing until the very end.

Directed by Orson Welles, the film follows the story of Guy Van Stratten, a small-time smuggler who is hired by the mysterious and wealthy Mr. Arkadin to investigate his own past.

As the story unfolds, we are taken on a thrilling journey through Europe, as Van Stratten uncovers secrets and lies that lead him deeper into the heart of Arkadin’s world.

The cinematography is stunning, with Welles’ signature use of light and shadow creating a sense of unease and tension throughout.

The performances are top-notch, with Welles himself delivering a masterful turn as the enigmatic and charismatic Arkadin.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with Michael Redgrave and Robert Arden delivering standout performances.

The film is not without its flaws, however.

At times the plot can be convoluted and difficult to follow, and some of the characters are thinly drawn.

  • Mr. Arkadin ( 1955 )
  • Mr. Arkadin ( 1955 )
  • Orson Welles, Michael Redgrave, Akim Tamiroff (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director) - Mr. Arkadin ( 1955 ) (Producer)
  • French (Subtitle)

Othello (1951)

Iago’s machinations are brought to life in this stunning adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello.

The film showcases the incredible talents of its lead actors, with Orson Welles delivering a powerful and nuanced performance as the tragic titular character.

The black and white cinematography adds a layer of depth to the film’s themes of jealousy and betrayal, while the score enhances the emotional impact of each scene.

Director and star Welles masterfully captures the essence of Shakespeare’s play, delivering a timeless and unforgettable cinematic experience.

Othello is a must-watch for fans of Shakespeare and classic cinema alike.

Othello (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Suzanne Cloutier, Micheál MacLiammóir, Orson Welles (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

The Lady from Shanghai is a classic film noir that takes the audience on a thrilling ride through the dark alleys of San Francisco.

Orson Welles, who also directed the film, stars as Michael O’Hara, a cynical sailor who falls for the seductive charms of Rita Hay character, Elsa Bannister.

The film is a visual feast, with stunning cinematography that captures the shadows and light of the city.

The iconic scene in the hall of mirrors is a masterclass in filmmaking, with Welles using every trick in the book to create a disorienting and unsettling atmosphere.

The plot is convoluted and twisty, with double-crosses and betrayals at every turn.

The characters are all flawed and morally ambiguous, making it hard to know who to trust. But it’s the chemistry between Hayworth and Welles that really makes the film shine.

Their scenes together are electric, with a palpable tension that keeps the audience on edge.

The Lady From Shanghai
  • Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

The Trial (1962)

The Trial is an enigmatic and surreal adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novel of the same name, brought to the screen by the visionary director Orson Welles.

Set in an unspecified time and place, the film follows the protagonist Joseph K. (Anthony Perkins), a bank clerk who is arrested and put on trial for an unknown crime.

From the first frame to the last, the film is a haunting and disorienting journey into the mind of a man trapped in a labyrinthine bureaucracy that seems to have no end.

Welles’ signature style is on full display here, with elaborate camera movements, chiaroscuro lighting, and distorted angles that create a sense of unease and paranoia.

Perkins, too, is perfectly cast as the bewildered and anguished Joseph K., whose descent into madness is both tragic and inevitable.

While the film’s plot may be frustratingly opaque at times, it is the mood and atmosphere that make The Trial a masterpiece of existential dread.

Themes of alienation, powerlessness, and the absurdity of modern life are all present, and Welles delivers them with a sense of urgency and intensity that is unmatched.

In short, The Trial is a must-see for fans of Kafka, Welles, or anyone who appreciates cinema as an art form that can challenge and provoke its audience.

It is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll, haunting your thoughts and sparking endless discussions and debates.

The Trial (Der Prozess) [Blu-Ray Region B Import - Germany]
  • The Trial (1962) ( Le procs ) ( Der Prozess (Il processo) )
  • The Trial (1962)
  • Le procs
  • Der Prozess (Il processo)
  • Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Orson Welles (Actors)

Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Chimes at Midnight is a masterful work of art that showcases the sheer brilliance of director Orson Welles.

This Shakespearean adaptation features incredible performances by the entire cast, with Welles himself delivering a powerful turn as the conflicted Falstaff.

The film’s visual style is stunning, with Welles using inventive camera angles and stark lighting to create a haunting and atmospheric tone.

The battle scenes are particularly impressive, with the chaotic and brutal nature of warfare captured in visceral detail.

At its core, Chimes at Midnight is a tragic tale of loyalty and betrayal, with Welles deftly exploring themes of honor, duty, and friendship.

The film’s final moments are heart-wrenching, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer.

Chimes at Midnight (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau, Keith Baxter (Actors)
  • Orson Welles (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

The Other Side of the Wind (2018)

The Other Side of the Wind is a cinematic masterpiece that finally saw the light of day after decades of being trapped in limbo.

Directed by the legendary Orson Welles, the film is a satirical look at Hollywood and the filmmaking industry, told through the perspective of an aging director trying to make a comeback.

The film’s editing style, with its jump cuts and rapid-fire pacing, is a nod to the French New Wave movement, while its themes of ambition, power, and ego are timeless and universal.

The performances by the cast, particularly John Huston as the lead character, are exceptional and bring a sense of authenticity to the story.

What makes The Other Side of the Wind truly remarkable is its meta-narrative.

The film was partially completed by Welles before his death in 1985 and was later finished by a team of dedicated filmmakers, who used modern technology to seamlessly blend the old footage with new material.

This process not only allowed for the preservation of a lost masterpiece but also added an extra layer of commentary on the nature of filmmaking itself.

What Is Orson Welles Best Film?

The 1951 adaptation of Othello is an extraordinarily clear, fast-paced and exciting version of the play.

It is a film that almost seems to be designed for a visual-oriented audience, as though it is being performed on stage.

This film has a lot going for it, which makes it a very good film.

The story of Othello is about a powerful general in the army who falls in love with his wife’s handmaiden, Desdemona.

He is so overcome with love that he cannot see the evil intentions of his ensign, Iago.

Iago wants Othello’s position and will do anything to get it.

There are plenty of twists and turns during the story and this movie handles them all well. The acting also helps to make this movie as good as it is.

Micheal Redgrave plays Othello and he does an excellent job of playing his part.

He plays the role very well and makes you feel sorry for him when he should.

His acting style fits perfectly with the time period the movie was made in because you can tell that he is old fashioned, which works well with the setting since everything else about the movie fits well too.

Where Do I Start Orson Welles?

Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin on May 6, 1915.

He was the son of Richard Head Welles, a magician and vaudeville performer whose stage name was Richard “King” Welles, and his second wife Beatrice Ives Welles.

His first name came from his father’s stage name as he was named after Shakespeare’s character “Orson” in the play “Henry VI”, Part 2.

Troubled Childhood: Orson Welles grew up in Westport, Connecticut.

His mother nicknamed him “Old Sorrowful” because of his facial resemblance to the famous statue in Italy, The Mourning Cavalier.

During his childhood, he developed a love for magic tricks, but his alcoholic father disapproved of this interest and tried to discourage it by making him read books on magic instead of playing with magic tricks. He also developed an interest in other art forms such as music and theatre.

In 1920 Welles moved with his parents to Chicago where they were divorced two years later.

Walking on the Moon: After graduating from Todd School for Boys in June 1930, at the age of fifteen, Orson moved from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin where he attended Edgewood High School for one year.

What Is Orson Welles Best Known For?

Orson Welles is best known for his radio adaptation of “War of the Worlds,” which caused a panic in New Jersey and New York City in 1938.

The broadcast told listeners that Martians had landed in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, and were engaged in a battle with Earth’s military forces.

Though the broadcast was presented as news, many listeners believed it was real and panicked.

When Welles was 19 years old, he directed his first film, “Citizen Kane.” It was ranked by critics as the best American film ever made at the time of its release and has been cited by many critics as one of the greatest films ever made.

Welles had a notable acting career that included appearances on the television show “The Twilight Zone” and roles in several movies such as “Touch of Evil,” “Chimes at Midnight,” “The Long, Hot Summer” and “Kane.”

In 1958 he married actress Rita Hayworth after she divorced her second husband. They divorced three years later.

He then married Paola Mori, who acted in some of his films. They also divorced.

Welles died in 1985 at age 70 from a heart attack.

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