Some of the Orson Welles quotes in this collection are from the 1941 film Citizen Kane, a big favorite on lists of the greatest films ever produced. American director, actor, screenwriter, and producer George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) is most known for his groundbreaking work in radio, theatre, and cinema. He is regarded as one of the best and most important directors of all time.
Welles directed notable theatrical plays for the Federal Theatre Project while still in his 20s, such as an all-African American cast Macbeth adaption and the political musical The Cradle Will Rock. He and John Houseman established the Mercury Theatre in 1937. This independent repertory theatre company staged several shows on Broadway from 1937 to 1941, among them Caesar, a production of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.
The visionary filmmaker George Orson Welles believed in developing his visual language, which he suggested should be distinctive yet understandable. He also held the view that work is an expression of life. He was a successful actor, director, writer, and producer.
In fact, he had a unique perspective on life that allowed him to view the world differently than the majority of his fellow creatures. Let’s now look at some of his memorable quotes, which provide us with a glimpse into his distinct thinking.
Best Orson Welles Quotes
We’re born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.
If you want a happy ending, which depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck.
The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
The cinema has no boundary; it is a ribbon of the dream.
Don’t give them what you think they want. Give them what they never thought was possible.
The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.
Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.
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Never expect justice in this world. That is not part of God’s plan. Everybody thinks that if they don’t get it, they’re some kind of odd man out. And it’s not true. Nobody gets justice – people just get good luck or bad luck.
A bad word from a colleague can darken a whole day. We need encouragement a lot more than we admit, even to ourselves.
Ignorance sheer ignorance. There is no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession that you are timid or careful.
We will sell no wine before its time.
A good artist should be isolated. If he isn’t isolated, something is wrong.
Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.
Many would never speak with a full mouth but do it with an empty head.
Funny Orson Welles Quotes
I have an unfortunate personality.
In common with all Protestant or Jewish cultures, America was developed on the idea that your word is your bond. Otherwise, the frontier could never have been opened, ’cause it was lawless. A man’s word had to mean something.
I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts.
If there hadn’t been women, we’d still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization to impress our girlfriends.
I look back on my life and it’s 95% running around trying to raise money to make movies and 5% making them. It’s no way to live.
I prefer people who rock the boat to people who jump out.
I hate Woody Allen physically; I dislike that kind of man.
Living in the lap of luxury isn’t bad except that you never know when luxury is going to stand up.
Gluttony is not a secret vice.
A poet needs a pen, a painter a brush, and a director an army.
You’re beautiful. Yes, you are, you’re very very beautiful. Extremely beautiful.
The classy gangster is a Hollywood invention.
I love moving around from town to town. I never got on a train in my life without my spirits rising.
I am essentially a hack, a commercial person. If I had a hobby, I would immediately make money on it or abandon it.
The basic and essential human is the woman.
Orson Welles Quotes on Politics
Fake is as old as the Eden tree.
The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.
Friendship creates only the illusion of not being alone.
The enemy of society is the middle class, and the enemy of life is middle age.
Look at the real prodigies, and I look like nothing compared to them.
What’s happening now is what happened before, and often what’s going to happen again sometime or other.
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If I had only one film in the world to save, it would be ‘Grand Illusion.’
A movie studio is the best toy a boy ever had.
My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.
I prefer the old masters, by which I mean John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford.
My kind of director is an actor-director who writes.
Hollywood expects you to experiment but on a film that makes money and if you don’t make money, you’re to blame. Your job is to make money.
Personally, I don’t like a girlfriend to have a husband. If she’ll fool her husband, I figure she’ll fool me.
I passionately hate the idea of being with it; I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.
I have always been more interested in experiments, than in accomplishment.
Filmmaking Orson Welles Quotes
The essential is to excite the spectators. If that means playing Hamlet on a flying trapeze or in an aquarium, you do it.
I never make my mind up about anything at all, until it’s over and done with.
I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life.
I don’t pray really, because I don’t want to bore God.
Now I’m an old Christmas tree, the roots of which have died. They just come along and while the little needles fall off me replace them with medallions.
My definition of success is not having things thrown at me!
Did you ever stop to think about why cops are always famous for being dumb? Simple. Because they don’t have to be anything else.
I don’t regard my career as something so precious that it comes before my convictions.
Why spend 18 hours watching someone else’s war, when you know how it comes out? We win, and then have to buy all their cars.
People are losing the capacity to listen to words or follow ideas.
There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror.
Human nature is eternal; therefore, one who follows his nature keeps his original nature, in the end.
A director is someone who presides over a series of accidents.
As for my style, for my vision of the cinema, editing is not simply one aspect: it’s the aspect.
When people accept breaking the law as normal, something happens to the whole society.
Orson Welles Quote We’re Born Alone
Only in a police state is the job of a policeman easy.
A toast, Jedediah, to love on my terms. Those are the only terms anybody ever knows – his own.
The truth about any man can only be calculated by the sum of everything that has been said about him.
I’m not basically a happy person, but I have all kinds of joy.
I don’t say we all ought to misbehave, but we ought to look as if we could.
Almost all serious stories in the world are stories of failure with a death in it. But there is more lost paradise in them than defeat.
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Race hate isn’t human nature; race hate is the abandonment of human nature.
A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.
An artist is always out of step with time. He has to be.
There are three intolerable things in life – cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and overexcited women…
I’d make my promises now if I wasn’t so busy arranging to keep them.
I started at the top and worked my way down.
Criticism is the essence of creation.
A man is not from where he is born, but where he chooses to die.
I love informality. I hate dressing up. I hate to be conventional – and I hate every kind of snob.
Orson Welles Quote about Love and Relationships
I never said I was a genius.
Crooks aren’t the worst people, just the stupidest. The fleas of the world.
Now we sit through Shakespeare in order to recognize the quotations.
The film is like a colony and there are very few colonists.
I’ve spent most of my mature life trying to prove that I’m not irresponsible.
I’ve always found it very sanitary to be broken.
At twenty-one, so many things appear solid, permanent, untenable.
Every true artist must, in his own way, be a magician, a charlatan.
Anybody who speaks quietly and shrivels up in the company is unbelievably arrogant.
I worry a lot about taking care of my dependents, all those perfectly ordinary middle-class preoccupations.
The laws and the stage, both are a form of exhibitionism.
I drag my myth around with me.
They teach anything in universities today. You can major in mud pies.
I have made an art form of the interview. The French are the best interviewers, despite their addiction to the triad, like all Cartesians.
Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre.
George Orwell Quotes
The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their understanding of their history.
Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.
If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them.
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The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.
This is the inevitable fate of the sentimentalist. All his opinions change into their opposites at the first brush of reality.
Man is the only creature that consumes without producing.
It is this fear of a supposedly dangerous mob that makes nearly all intelligent people conservative in their opinions.
Journalism is printing what someone else does not want to be printed: everything else is public relations.
However much you deny the truth, the truth goes on existing.
The people will believe what the media tells them they believe.
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
In the face of pain, there are no heroes.