Yep, I'm saying it: Orson Welles is not a good director, certainly not the greatest director of all time that every film buff seems to believe. I can name five directors off the top of my head who have proved over their careers to be better directors than Orson Welles.
I'll do it right now, looksee:
Horrors! you say, how can you barbecue that sacred cow! Orson Welles is a genius! A wonderkinder! CITIZEN KANE, you shout! TOUCH OF EVIL, you bellow! LADY FROM SHANGHAI, you plead!
Please. Sure, KANE is a great film, ok? Technically, it is a watershed. But emotionally? It's empty and unaffecting. Do you cry at the end? Do you feel bad for Kane in the end? SHANGHAI & EVIL are failures, botched by Welles's own ego, run over budget and destroyed by the studio because he couldn't keep it together. Why? He was such a genius, wasn't he! His ideas were so ahead of their time, weren't they? BAH! He was a bad director, and he left projects half-done and poorly done, and then moaned and groaned when his financiers swooped in to try to save their investments. MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, puh-leeze.
Meanwhile, each of the above directors, contemporaries of Welles, managed to make bonafide masterpieces (and often a few of them) without sacrificing their own "genius," and without running afoul of the studio financing system.
THE SEARCHERS, just one John Ford masterpiece, is a better film all around than the whole of Welles's oeuvre (and yes, I just used the word oeuvre). CHINATOWN is such a masterpiece that Polanski manages to out-Welles almost effortlessly. Kazan, even tho he's a stool pidgeon, made ON THE WATERFRONT after making STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE! Beat that one-two, Orson! And both Huston and Hitchcock completed more true masterpieces in their careers then Welles even began in his.
So there! Take that Orson!