How great was the late Orson Welles? So great that he's even making movies from beyond the grave.

Rare recordings of Welles narrating Christmas Tails, a self-published novel by Robert X. Leed, will be used to create a new 3D live-action/animation film, according to reports. The project will be directed by Todd Tucker, a veteran make-up effects artist, and produced by Drac Studios, who created the outstanding effects for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Welles recorded the book in 1985 as a favor to Leed, who was a personal friend. Welles died a few months later, and the tapes have gathered dust in Leed's La Vegas home ever since.

The story, about what happens when Santa's reindeer get sick and his dog comes to the rescue to save Christmas, will be adapted by Matt Thompson. Welles' voice will be used for narration.

Welles' reputation wasn't great at the time of his death -- he was largely considered to be a failed artist, and a caricature of himself, appearing on hammy talk shows and doing commercials for cheap wine (see below). But the last decade has found cinephiles looking back with increasing fondness at the director of Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, considered two of the greatest films in cinema's history. A restored version of Welles' brilliant Touch of Evil was released in 1998, bringing new, younger fans to the director; new books and critical studies abound; and the 2009 Richard Linklater film Me and Orson Welles presented the legend as a wunderkind, brimming with genius and ambition.

As for Christmas Tails, "It's a movie about how Santa's dog saves Christmas, but on one level, this a story about the discovery of Orson's lost tapes," Drac Studios president Harvey Lowry told the Hollywood Reporter. "This is a substantial find. It's something that a filmmaker dreams of."

categories Cinematical