5 Of Cinema’s Greatest Voiceover Narrators

2) Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Orson Welles, director of what is possibly the greatest movie ever made, if such a distinction has any meaning, was really only able to make Citizen Kane because of his voice. Or rather, it was because of his famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast which he directed and narrated, and which led to RKO offering him a movie contract that gave him complete directorial control over the finished product. Although he directed, produced, starred in and co-wrote Kane, it’s the Thompson character who provides the narrative dialogue throughout the movie, with Welles playing the mysterious mogul whose life Thompson is trying to piece together.

Welles’ voice was that booming baritone stage voice you imagine when you think of a major theater actor, and so in addition to performing on stage and screen, showcasing those pipes, he narrated countless movies and television shows, and the occasional commercial for champagne or other products. One notable piece of work that he narrated is the short documentary film Future Shock based on the popular 1970s book. Welles’ flare for the dramatic served the material well, even if its style and content seems somewhat ridiculous to the modern viewer. Even late into his life, when his appearance transformed completely, Welles was forever recognizable for his signature, unmistakable, powerful voice.

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