Celebrate Orson Welles’ Birthday With a Cold Glass of Paul Masson Champagne!

Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

In 1941, Orson Welles—who would have turned 102 years old today—was at the top of his game. Though he was only 26 years old, Welles had managed to successfully conquer every corner of the existing entertainment world.

On the stage, he introduced groundbreaking adaptations of Shakespeare’s work, including a 1937 stage version of Julius Caesar that modernized the material with imagery more reminiscent of Nazi Germany. In 1938, Welles staged what is probably the most famous radio broadcast of all time when his reading of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was mistaken for news (though several sources claim that the “mass panic” it set off is more of a myth, as very few listeners were tuned in).

It didn’t take long for Welles’ talent for innovation to get the attention of the powers-that-be in Hollywood, who quickly came calling. In 1939, Welles signed a two-picture movie deal with RKO that granted him something truly unheard of in those days: complete artistic control. Though his budgets would be limited, Welles would be the sole decider of everything from script to cast to final cut. After toying around with other projects, including an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Welles finally settled on what would be his directorial debut: Citizen Kane, the story of Charles Foster Kane, a fictional newspaper magnate-turned-lonely old man. Even today, the film is widely considered the greatest movie ever made.

Though Citizen Kane was not without its controversies (its protagonist’s similarities to real-life newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst led to various attempts to see the movie burned and/or buried, some of them successful), it also turned Welles into Hollywood’s Golden Boy. It’s a mantle that ultimately proved a bit too overwhelming for Welles—there’s really only one direction you can go after making the greatest movie of all time.

Welles would continue to direct dozens of projects over the next several decades—many of them great (see The Stranger, Touch of Evil, and F for Fake)—but no project ever came close to achieving the critical acclaim he had received for Citizen Kane.

By the late 1970s, Welles, who had once been the voice of a generation, was simply just a voice. With a lack of movie offers, Welles capitalized on his well-known mug and famously baritone pipes as a way to make ends meet. (Before he voiced Magnum P.I.’s unseen Robin Masters or the robot Unicron on Transformers, Welles was George Lucas’ original choice to voice Darth Vader.) This is when Welles signed on as the celebrity spokesman for Paul Masson, a California winery that promised to “sell no wine before its time.”

Welles made some delightfully cheesy commercials for the company, bringing a Shakespearean feel to a mediocre vino.

He explained how he likes to cast a party the way he casts a play: with very special people—and a very special California champagne.

He also informed us that Chablis is America’s most popular wine. (Who knew?)

Most importantly, Welles proved that if you wanted to get rip-roaring drunk, Paul Masson is your man. His famously inebriated outtakes from a champagne commercial might very well be the brand’s most notable achievement.

Maaa-haaaahh—the French!

Welles didn’t give the commercial’s director a whole lot of usable footage to work with, as evidenced by the final product.

So raise a glass to Orson Welles: maker of the world’s greatest movie, and star of its most disastrous commercial.

Reviews.org Wants to Pay You $1000 to Watch 30 Disney Movies

Razvan/iStock via Getty Images
Razvan/iStock via Getty Images

Fairy tales do come true. CBR reports that Reviews.org is currently hiring five people to watch 30 Disney movies (or 30 TV show episodes) for 30 days on the new Disney+ platform. In addition to $1000 apiece, each of the chosen Disney fanatics will receive a free year-long subscription to Disney+ and some Disney-themed movie-watching swag that includes a blanket, cups, and a popcorn popper.

The films include oldies but goodies, like Fantasia, Bambi, and A Goofy Movie, as well as Star Wars Episodes 1-7 and even the highly-anticipated series The Mandalorian. Needless to say, there are plenty of options for 30 days of feel-good entertainment.

In terms of qualifications: applicants must be over the age of 18, a U.S. resident, have the ability to make a video reviewing the films, as well as a semi-strong social media presence. On the more fantastical side, they are looking for applicants who “really, really lov[e] Disney” and joke that the perfect candidate, “Must be as swift as a coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon.” You can check out the details in the video below.

Want to put yourself in the running? Be sure to submit your application by Thursday, November 7 at 11:59 p.m. at the link here. And keep an eye out for Disney+, which will be available November 12.

A Handy Map of All the Royal Residences in the UK

Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Frogmore House, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's primary estate on the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Somewhere along the way, you probably learned that Buckingham Palace is home to the ruler of the United Kingdom and many unflinching, fancily clad guards. And, if you watch The Crown or keep a close eye on royal family news, you might recognize the names of other estates like Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace.

But what about Gatcombe Park, Llwynywermod, or any of the other royal residences? To fill in the gaps of your knowledge, UK-based money-lending site QuickQuid created a map and corresponding illustrations of all 20 properties, and compiled the need-to-know details about each place.

quickquid map of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip kept eight estates for themselves, and divvied up the rest among their children and grandchildren, some of whom have purchased their own properties, too. Though Buckingham Palace is still considered the official residence of the Queen, she now splits most of her time between Windsor Castle and other holiday homes like Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Sandringham House, which Prince Philip is responsible for maintaining.

quickquid illustration of royal family residences
QuickQuid

Windsor shares its grounds with two other properties: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s home, Frogmore House, and the Royal Lodge, where Prince Andrew (the Queen’s second youngest child) lives.

illustration of frogmore house
QuickQuid

Southwest of Windsor is Highgrove House, Prince Charles’s official family home with wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. They also own Birkhall in Scotland, Clarence House in London, Tamarisk House on the Isles of Scilly, and the aforementioned Llwynywermod in Wales. Much like the Queen herself does, Charles and Camilla basically have a different house for each region they visit.

illustration of highgrove house
QuickQuid

In 2011, the Queen gave Anmer Hall—which is on the grounds of Sandringham House—to Prince William and Kate Middleton as a wedding gift, but they’ve recently relocated to Kensington Palace so Prince George could attend school in London.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s only daughter, Anne, resides in Gatcombe Park with her daughter, Zara Tindall. Anne also owns St. James’s Palace in London, where her niece (Princess Beatrice of York) and her mother’s cousin (Princess Alexandra) sometimes live.

Lastly there's Edward, Elizabeth and Philip's youngest son, who lives with his wife in Bagshot Park, which architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner called “bad, purposeless, [and] ugly.”

illustration of bagshot park
QuickQuid

If you’re feeling particularly cramped in your tiny one-bedroom apartment (or even regular-sized house) after reading about the royal family’s overabundance of real estate, take solace in the knowledge that at least you’ll never have to follow their strict fashion rules.

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