Orson Welles hates the advertising copy he's being asked to read

Here's a YouTube clip of Orson Welles' infamous frozen/canned food advertisement voice-over recording sessions in which he berates the engineer for the inanity of the material he's being asked to read. It's a rare chance to hear a serious tantrum executed with stentorian emphasis. There's a brilliant homage to this in a Pinky and the Brain cartoon that makes for a great coda.

Orson Welles - Frozen Peas (Thanks, isaak!)


    1. I’m pretty sure that, by the end, he was actually leaving outgoing messages on answering machines in return for a small cash consideration.

  1. Maurice LaMarche also did it in The Critic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i7ycxiog40

    1. It’s a rare trip to the grocery store that doesn’t include me using the phrase “filled with green pea-ness.” (Also “most people call them green onions, but they’re really scallions,” but that’s a different thing.)

  2. Maurice LaMarche must be obsessed with this bit, he does it again on the Nerdist Podcast (with fellow Brain Rob Paulson)  http://www.nerdist.com/2012/03/nerdist-podcast-rob-paulsen-and-maurice-lamarche/

    1. If I recall correctly, it’s that same podcast where he explains that he was sort of known for that bit and he thought the Animaniacs people brought him in for that reason, that’s why Brain’s voice is essentially Orson Welles.

      1. Yeah? So listen to it.  The entire hour is pretty good.

        Also recommended:  the Nerdist episode with Billy West and John DiMaggio.

  3. I the great Orson Welles didn’t want to do the commercial, why did he agree to it (except for the fact that he needed the money)?   It’s not as if the people he was abusing were to blame for his troubles.

    1. Yeah, those scenes are pretty embarrassing.
      Don’t sign up to be a whore, and then clamp your legs together.
      It doesn’t work that way…

      1. Maybe he was still brilliant enough to know that it all lent a little something to his mystique. Which, whether he knew it or not, was the case.

    2.  Apparently there were still lines he would not cross, or read, for money.  Seems reasonable to me.  The only power an employee has is in the words “I quit”.

  4. That’s funny, the Negativland track that samples this (“Jolly Green Giant,” on Happy Heroes) came up on iTunes DJ just yesterday.

  5. Orson pops up again in futurama, in the episode Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences. He’s portrayed as a pain to work with in that voiceover as well.

    The script is a very rough paraphrasing, but still holds the original’s pompous nature.

  6. Buried in the commentary tracks for the “Mr. Show” DVDs is also a parody of this–a pompous actor visits the crew and reads advertising copy from time to time, which he invariably finds contemptible and beneath his skills.

    1. You beat me to it.  I’ve always wondered if Tom was drunk or coked up, or if that was really just his own wonderful personality shining through.

      1. In my position as ‘creative’ at a radio station I worked with the producer/poor sod on the other end of this conversation. We used Tom a few times for a variety of ads – he could sound fantastic if you were prepared to put the work in. This tbh – was normal Tom, and you were royally fucked if you didn’t have your facts spot on for anything he was reading.

  7. He’s right though. Dude’s telling Orson Welles to do the ‘broadcaster’ voice that randomly emphasises words like “in.” Every amateur broadcaster knows TO emphasise abstract, meaningless words FOR greater impact. As does every London tube announcer. “The train WILL now be leaving. All passengers ARE reminded the broadcaster voice IS necessary TO convey authority.”

    I think Ira Glass would have reacted the same way.
    4 minute mark

    1. Never mind that by this point, Welles had been involved in broadcasting for what, 40-50 years?  I suspect this would fall right in the same zone as…well, this:

  8. Warner brothers pumped out great animation in my childhood, and it was a long time until great stuff hit air again.

  9. This sent me on an Orson Wells youtube journey. Oh lordey. Here’s my current favorite, a Japanese whiskey ad:


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