When Welles’ Mercury Theatre put on a production of William Gillette’s 1894 comedy Too Much Johnson, he made silent film counterparts to be shown throughout the live production. The film never made it into the production though and was unseen by the public until it was discovered in Italy in 2013, and has only been shown publicly a handful of times since its uncovering.
The National Film Preservation Foundation put the work on its website Thursday so viewers can watch both all 66 minutes of footage and an edited version that seeks to replicate how Welles’ might have edited the film. “If this edit is only a guess, it strives to be an educated one,” the foundation wrote on its site, “informed by research into the unpublished play scripts left behind by Welles and the Mercury Theatre company.”
Only a few years later, Welles directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane, which went on to win multiple awards and earn the filmmaker lifelong critical acclaim.