Welles Done

The 8 Funniest Orson Welles Impressions From Pop Culture

Eric Jonrosh Orson Welles

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There is no figure in the history of American filmmaking that weighs quite as heavy as Orson Welles, no pun intended. The actor, writer and director is most famous for Citizen Kane and his panic-inducing radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, but by the time of his death he was reduced to roles in schlock like Transformers: The Movie. Welles’ oversize personality made him rife for parody, and here are some of our favorite takes on the cinematic icon.

8. Pinky and The Brain

Probably the single greatest Welles impersonator in the world is Maurice LaMarche, a Canadian voice actor who has lent his talents to dozens of shows. His most beloved role came in 1993 when he was tapped to play “The Brain” on Animaniacs. The swollen-headed laboratory mouse could only have one voice, and LaMarche’s grandiose take on Orson Welles’ vocal tics made him iconic.

7. The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour

For all of John Candy’s many comedic talents, he was never well-known for impressions. Watching this clip of Candy doing a terrifyingly perfect Orson Welles on The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour could change all that. All of Candy’s big man zaniness is gone, replaced by the kind of self-congratulatory gravitas that Welles made famous. We’d love to see a whole movie of this.

6. Comedy Bang! Bang!

James Adomian stopped by the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast for their Christmas episode in 2014 to portray Orson Welles as the Spirit of Christmas. He absolutely nails the bilious bloviating that Welles was famous for, and the whole clip is well worth listening to, especially when he starts eating the reindeer.

5. The Critic

It’s Maurice LaMarche again, this time given the opportunity to play Welles directly. Cult animated comedy The Critic loved to get its hands dirty with Hollywood’s best and brightest, and whenever Welles showed up things were hilarious. Whether it’s narrating Jay Sherman’s parents’ video will or a spoof of the classic frozen peas commercial, LaMarche’s Welles was a joy to behold.

4.  Drunk History

On Drunk History, a wide variety of talented actors and comedians come forth to re-enact sloshed versions of important events. The making of Citizen Kane is probably one of the most seminal moments in Hollywood history, and hiring Jack Black to play Welles was an inspired choice. It’s hard for him to rein in his natural tendency to mug, but that tension makes the bit even funnier.

3. Ed Wood

Vincent D’Onofrio plays the legendary director in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, and the scene where the Hollywood legend meets the angora-fetishizing trash film king is remarkably emotionally affecting. We can’t help but think that playing Welles gave D’Onofrio some ideas for his role as the Kingpin on Daredevil. A little trivia: Vincent’s lines were dubbed for the flick by none other than our old friend Maurice LaMarche.

2. The Midnight Show

Another excellent James Adomian rendition of Welles, this one for online video production group The Midnight Show. We’re back to the scene of the disastrous Paul Masson wine commercial, fertile ground for Welles spoofs, but this selection of purported “outtakes” just get more and more bizarre as they go on.

1. The Spoils Before Dying

It’s pretty obvious that Will Ferrell’s character in The Spoils Before Dying, Eric Jonrosh, has more than a little bit of Welles in him. That resemblance becomes all too clear in this commercial for “Bagpipes O’Toole Scotch-flavored vodka,” an obviously fictional product. Ferrell’s drunken slurring is a direct homage to Orson stumbling his way through a legendarily painful commercial for Paul Masson “California champagne.”

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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