Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Orson Welles’ Notorious Champagne Commercial Outtakes Hook New Viewers on TikTok

Orson Welles’ Notorious Champagne Commercial Outtakes Hook New Viewers on TikTok

Orson Welles is an icon of classic film due to his many contributions to the art form. However, a new generation is discovering him on TikTok. While the filmmaker directed, wrote, and starred in what is hailed as one of the best films ever made, Citizen Kane, a less flattering bit on his resume is getting attention.

As Looper points out, it’s the outtakes from a Paul Masson wine commercial that are catching Generation Z’s attention. In the infamous footage, Welles attempts to deliver his lines while appearing intoxicated and unable to perform his part.

The nationally aired Orson Welles champagne commercial had its outtakes initially circulating only through bootleg VHS tapes. They gained new life on YouTube when it was uploaded in 2009. Since then, the video has gained 3.7 million views. Recently, @genxplore posted the outtakes on TikTok, captivating a new group of pop culture lovers.

It’s undeniably hilarious watching Welles stumble through his lines for the commercial. Fans of the iconic filmmaker likely enjoy thinking of him having a bit of fun at the expense of Paul Masson. Seeing the daring director that helmed marvels like Touch of Evil blurt out, “Mwaaaaaugh the French … champagne,” as clearly befuddled extra watch on really is something.

An Eyewitness Account of The Orson Welles Gaffe Hitting TikTok

According to Looper, there’s an official account of the day from an eyewitness. Decades after the iconic Orson Welles champagne commercial, Mel Magazine interviewed Peter Shillingford, the clapperboard operator from the outtakes. Shillingford shared the story of Welles arriving late and disoriented, mentioning his journey from a late shoot in Las Vegas to Los Angeles, during which he had taken a sleeping pill. Despite the challenging circumstances, they proceeded with filming, but Welles’s disorientation and slurred speech were unmistakable.

Recognizing Welles’ need for rest, Shillingford graciously provided him with a bed to recharge. Rumor has it that the commercial’s producers even contemplated the drastic measures of termination or legal action against Welles for his behavior. Nevertheless, after a brief intermission, shooting resumed. Welles delivered a flawless performance, as you can see above in the commercial that aired (which plays before the outtakes).

The outtakes spread unexpectedly far through the internet. They have inspired various memes and remixes across TikTok and YouTube, such as the below Beatles/Welles mashup. It adds a peculiar touch to the legacy of a remarkable director and actor.