The late Orson Welles spent much of his life starting movies that were never finished. And now, more and more of the fragments he left behind are beginning to surface. The latest batch came to light at a recent film seminar at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, and plans also are under way to restore 20 minutes of Welles' incomplete 1955 version of "Don Quixote" for showing at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

In the past, occasional screenings have been held of footage from Welles' unfinished Hollywood tale, "The Other Side of the Wind." Other bits and pieces that have been shown lately include 10 minutes of a 1969 Jeanne Moreau film, "The Deep"; footage from a 1942 documentary titled "It's All True"; a scene from "The Dreamers," which was taken from an Isak Dinesen book; and a 15-minute tape in which Welles tries to persuade potential investors to finance what he envisioned as a version of "King Lear" completely unlike any other filmed Shakespeare. And while he never got a chance to make "Lear," Welles reportedly did finish an early 1970s version of "The Merchant of Venice," starring himself as Shylock. 'Gung Ho': No Protest

The Association of Asian Pacific American Artists has decided not to protest the portrayal of Japanese in Ron Howard's "Gung Ho." That's news, since few films that deal with minorities get by these days without some sort of protest: "The Color Purple," remember, was branded as racist and sexist, then the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was accused of racism for not giving it any awards; Asians, meanwhile, protested "Year of the Dragon" so strongly that a disclaimer was added to the beginning of the film.

"Gung Ho" seemed ripe for similar protests, since the comedy used rather broad stereotypes to contrast Japanese workers and executives with their American counterparts. But the AAPAA, which is trying to ensure more rounded characters in the proposed "Gung Ho" television series, decided not to make a fuss about the movie itself -- partly because it's too late to do any good, and partly, they say, because the stereotyped Japanese in the film are balanced by the stereotyped Americans. Sly's Striking 'Cobra'

The buzz after last week's exhibitor screening of "Cobra" is that Sylvester Stallone and director George P. Cosmatos have delivered the kind of Stallone movie that always makes lots of money: one in which the plot is simple and violent and Sly wipes out a whole lot of bad guys. He wipes them out the way he did in "Rambo," not the way he did in the "Rocky" movies: with guns. The movie will be unveiled May 23 to kick off Memorial Day weekend with a bang or two. High-Rolling Quarter

In Los Angeles' movie theaters, the first quarter of 1986 was the biggest grossing first quarter ever. Led by "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "The Color Purple," "Out of Africa" and "Hannah and Her Sisters," the first 13 weeks of the year brought in slightly more money than the previous record -- a record that was set, surprisingly enough, in 1985, a year that wasn't much to celebrate overall. For folks who like trivia, Daily Variety has pointed out that this marks the second year in a row that the first quarter's top-grossing film had "Beverly Hills" in the title: Last year it was "Beverly Hills Cop."

The second quarter of 1986, meanwhile, got off to a reasonable start, with box office figures rallying slightly from a lackluster Easter weekend. The only big newcomer -- David Carradine in another free-the-Vietnam-prisoners tale, "P.O.W. : The Escape" -- didn't do too well, making just over $1 million. But "Police Academy 3" retained its No. 1 ranking with $5.1 million, while "The Money Pit" fell very little from the previous weekend's opening-day totals.