Film Review: THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD (USA 2018) ***1/2

They'll Love Me When I'm Dead Poster

In the final fifteen years of the life of legendary director Orson Welles he pins his Hollywood comeback hopes on a film, The Other Side of the Wind, in itself a film about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie.


Morgan Neville

THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD is a 2018 American documentary film, directed by Morgan Neville, revolving around the making and filming of the infamous never completed and now just completed THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, directed by Orson Welles.

A bit of background knowledge is necessary in order to appreciate the Orson Welles/Neville doc, THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD.  The doc should be watched together with THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, though best before or after could be argued.  WIND was Welles’ comeback movie that took him umpteen  years tin the making but never competed due to his craziness and lack of funding.  WIND was supposed to be autobiographical though Welles claims it was never so.  He had directed his best friend John Huston play the director and Peter Bogdanovich play another director who was not Peter Bogdanovich.  He has impressionist Rich Little hired to act in his film and then edited him out.  More information and madness are revealed as Neville’s doc unfolds.

The doc is immensely entertaining for several reasons.  Firstly, Welles was a charismatic and intriguing character.  It is also about filmmaking and  filmmakers implying that all cineastes should love the doc.  And Neville has done a wonderful job revealing both sides of Orson Welles.

Neville also includes short clips (wish he had shown more) of Welles’ famous films like CITZEN KANE, THE TRIAL and A TOUCH OF EVIL while mentioning his never completed films like THE DREAMERS (not to be confused with the Bertolucci film of the same name).

The title takes the words from from a prophetic comment Welles made to Peter Bogdanovic that centred on Welles’ return to the U.S. in the early 1970s to shoot his ill-fated Hollywood comeback film.  The documentary concludes with his death in October 1985. “Welles is the protagonist of my documentary,” Neville said. “(The Other Side of the Wind) is so autobiographical, even though he said it was not.

The doc is also a study of the madness that goes with genius.  Welles’ not only drove himself crazy but those around him.  Like his cameraman, Gary Graver.  After working him to death to the point that Graver would strangle him and call Welles a fucking fat idiot, Welles would put his arm around Graver and tell him that he was doing a great job.

The film is all about great directors.  Besides its subject Orson Welles who made arguably the best film (as polled by critics over the years) of all time CITIZEN KANE, the film features Peter Bogdanovich who accomplished three great films during the making of THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, PAPER MOON and WHAT’S UP DOC?. This film is directed by Morgan Neville who directed the Best Documentary Oscar winner, 20 FEET FROM STARDOM as well as the well critical received BEST OE ENEMIES and WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?

This film should be seen together with the recently completed THE OTEHR SIDE OF THE WIND, thanks to additional funding provided by Netflix.   THEY’LL LOVE ME WHEN I’M DEAD is also a Netflix original film now playing on Netflix.