top of page


"ORSON WELLES & JOE FRANK" by Louis Antonelli

Fascinating.  Orson Welles, Joe Frank.  Their singular visions converge thisweekend for a Chicago screening of filmmaker D.P. Carlson's mesmeric, wildly engaging motion picture "Joe Frank - Somewhere Out There" on the big screen at The Wilmette Theater as a unique part of the Orson Welles Creative Arts Festival.

How very enchantingly apt! The melding resonates on a multi-plane level of kinship through mediums, themes, larger than life personalities, creative prowess - seemingly at times uncontrollable (yet never so; one small part of the magicians slight of hand) yet always ready to delight and confound in a hot bed of alchemical voices, modes, masks, cloaks, layers of mirrors reflecting ravishing anger and uproarious laughter.The resulting brew is a priceless phantasmagorical vintage.

For those of you who may scoff, "hyperbole!" I put to you...oh, but that is the carnival ride of fun with these grand artists in the mind's eye. Ponder, Orson Welles - boy wonder, vagabond, enfant terrible, maverick, trailblazer, outcast, haunted by obsession, adored by women, a man of epic appetites with the greatest of them being an unquenchable lust for life.  A lonely genius.

Is this not all, unquestionably, a mirror facing a mirror of Joe Frank as well?  Those initiates, intimates of both will beam at the ready reflections; the visages, so bold, brash, unafraid nor unapologetic to be wholly, themselves on their own terms, in art, and in life.  Is this not at last call what we so love about them?  Of course we know the intrinsic answer and beam as this kinship resonates with our own humanity, and ultimately mortality.

What to me is the most enchanting aspect of this mirrored marriage of two legends is that it is the art and audacity of another like soul who brings the mirrors uniquely in aligned, deep focus:  Filmmaker D.P. Carlson, without whose own maverick, audacious, damn the torpedoes art and sensibility we would not have the seminal beauty of this meeting, via his motion picture "Joe Frank - Somewhere Out There."  Parallel's - oh indeed.  A resounding, kaleidoscopic YES!  Visit the festival, experience the film.  All will be vividly apparent...for those with eyes and ears to see.



A brilliant, one-of-a-kind radio monologist, the late Joe Frank (1938-2018) was nonetheless a contemporary cultural anomaly. Nationally syndicated through NPR over the last four decades, Frank developed a strong cult following among night owls who would hear his strange and mesmerizing radio pieces, typically broadcast well after the sun went down.  It jibes then that Frank’s monologues evoked the nocturnal, the subterranean, the darker aspects of the human condition; serial killers & dictators, penguins lining themselves up for massacre, and bad sexual encounters are just a few of his decidedly offbeat topics.  Sometimes the pieces were autobiographical and others were fully imagined, and they inspired a multitude of artists from all backgrounds, including radio talents like Harry Shearer and Ira Glass, filmmaker Alexander Payne, and comedian/actor David Cross, who all offer testimony to Joe Frank’s talents in this new documentary.  Director D.P. Carlson has also included generous snippets of the best Frank recordings, along with interviews with Frank’s closest associates and Joe Frank himself to complete this portrait of an artist who, Ira Glass says, “invented an aesthetic, and he fulfilled it.”

bottom of page