Prescient Orson Welles warns against homage, "the most detestable habit in cinema"

What I understand is

Interrogate your work


Rule 1: If you must make homage, know that is what you are doing
Rule 2: Don’t make homage


My problem is that I can’t listen to Orson Welles now without thinking of The Brain, whose voice is basically Maurice LaMarche’s impression of Orson Welles. I bet Orson would really hate that homage.


I was just thinking about this the other night when we re-watched Young Frankenstein. I’d remembered it as having a lot of great bits but also some stretches that are kinda dull. I realized this watching that those two traits sync up with whether the movie is doing parody or homage at that particular moment.

1 Like

Yup, this was the first thing that came to mind:


[ Edited again – Rob Paulsen is the voice of Pinky, not Jess Harnell! ]

[ Edited to replace video with a version with Rob Paulsen’s and Maurice LaMarche’s voices instead of the original Orson Welles “frozen peas” dubbed over it ]

Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche recorded the Orson Welles rant in character as Pinky and the Brain in what is one of the most obscure references ever in what is ostensibly a children’s cartoon*:

  • Yes, I know Animaniacs and Pinky & The Brain are possibly enjoyed even more by adults than by kids.

It’s almost as if creativity fundamentally works through principles of appropriation and remix, and not from wholly new ideas springing ex nihilo from the minds of individual (largely white and male) geniuses.

1 Like

Haha, came here to say that. Man, I’d love to see him tear apart Kill Bill (don’t get me wrong, I love Kill Bill, but maybe the homage to literally every movie ever was a bit much).

1 Like

What Welles is getting at, I think, is homage for its own sake, where “getting the reference” becomes the be-all and end-all of the work.

These days, the apotheosis of that tendency (for me at any rate) would be something like Ready Player One, where pop culture references completely swamp both the work and the whole worldview behind the work.

Many Gen-Xers (like me) first learned about various stars-movies-icons of the 30s-40s-50s from parodic references in Looney Tunes cartoons. But those moments of reference in the cartoons are not – by a long shot – the most artistically or comedically interesting aspects of those cartoons.


Two pieces of homage I tire of seeing:

  1. The Wilhelm scream. It seems to be in everything now. As soon as I hear it all suspension of reality ceases.

  2. The text A113 in any recent animated movie (not just Pixar). For me I can’t get into any recent animated feature until I find this easter egg. Once it is spotted I can get on with watching.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.