While Orson Welles might be best known for landmark film Citizen Kane (and getting angry at a bag of frozen peas), he long held a fascination for trickery, illusion, and magic. Allegedly taught magic at a young age by Harry Houdini, Welles performed fantastic feats of deception throughout his career in live magic shows with his Mercury Theatre troupe, and even on television as a solo act.
In fact, one of his final works – a television special about magic – went unfinished at the time of his death, and was nearly lost forever. Filmed over the course of nearly a decade, Orson Welles’ Magic Show was to be a compilation of Welles’ obsession with magic, featuring illusions performed by Welles himself (promising no trick photography) and musings on the nature of the art. When Welles died in 1985, his partner Oja Kodar donated all of his unreleased work to the Munich Film Museum, who then recompiled the unfinished clips into a single 27-minute presentation.
It’s been featured on television and at film festivals around the world, but you can watch it in its entirety below thanks to the magic of YouTube.