A Filmmaker’s Diary: Orson Welles Talks about the Friend Who Used a Diary to Think Through the Film Version of Othello

Filmmaker and raconteur Orson Welles (Citizen Kane) made a film version of Othello with a friend who kept a diary of the entire process and published the diary in 1952. The book is called Put Money in Thy Purse: The Diary of the Film of Othello by Micheál Mac Liammóir, for which Welles has written the Forward.

In the Forward, Welles, in his cheeky humor, eviscerates anyone who would keep a diary, calling such a habit one’s “darkest secret.” Welles notes that his friend is a wonderful person who lavishes the atmosphere with “pleasant oils and balms of good humor.” However, the “addiction to diaries” is a vice, he says, like any other, which leads to bad character, such as being “an incurable snoop,” a vice to which Welles himself confesses. Knowing the habits of your friends, and possibly writing them down, keeps one’s friends ever dependent on your kindness to jot them down in a pleasant light.

All the mock horror aside, I do enjoy that Welles describes a diarist as one who has “arranged a sort of rendezvous with posterity.” What a lovely thought! You and I who write in diaries, journals, logs, or whatever you want to call them, are meeting with those in the future, if we so choose to leave our diaries behind to be read, giving them a weight and importance that the banality of everyday life often shrouds. Just a thought.

Peace,

Deborah

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