The Lady from Shanghai  and Touch of Evil .
Stop by for one or both!
Ticket Information: Free and Open to the Public
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courtesy of Sony Pictures Museum:
After being fired from RKO with his reputation tarnished by Hearst’s destructive campaign to bury Citizen Kane, Orson Welles was down for the count when Columbia Pictures studio chief Harry Cohn decided to take a chance on him by green-lighting what would become a film noir classic. Lady from Shanghai stars one of the biggest movie stars and a Columbia favorite, Rita Hayworth, who was easily sold on the project since Welles was her real life husband at the time. The film follows Hayworth as the femme fatale who baits an Irish seaman (Welles) into a dangerous, tangled web of lies, deceit and murder. The climactic “hall of mirrors” sequence is among the most spellbinding scenes in cinematic history. Although the film was subsequently misunderstood by audiences and critics of the time (Hayworth’s radically altered look – short platinum blonde hair – shocked movie-goers), it is now considered a masterpiece of the film noir genre.
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courtesy of Barnes & Noble:
This baroque nightmare of a south-of-the-border mystery is considered to be one of the great movies of Orson Welles, who both directed and starred in it. On honeymoon with his new bride, Susan (Janet Leigh), Mexican-born policeman Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) agrees to investigate a bomb explosion. In so doing, he incurs the wrath of local police chief Hank Quinlan (Welles), a corrupt, bullying behemoth with a perfect arrest record. Vargas suspects that Quinlan has planted evidence to win his past convictions, and he isn’t about to let the suspect in the current case be railroaded. Quinlan, whose obsession with his own brand of justice is motivated by the long-ago murder of his wife, is equally determined to get Vargas out of his hair, and he makes a deal with local crime boss Uncle Joe Grandi (Akim Tamiroff) to frame Susan on a drug rap, leading to one of the movie’s many truly harrowing sequences.
Touch of Evil dissects the nature of good and evil in a hallucinatory, nightmarish ambience, helped by the shadow-laden cinematography of Russell Metty and by the cast, which, along with Tamiroff and Welles includes Charlton Heston as a Mexican; Marlene Dietrich, in a brunette wig, as a brittle madam who delivers the movie’s unforgettable closing words; Mercedes McCambridge as a junkie; and Dennis Weaver as a tremulous motel clerk. Touch of Evil has been released with four different running times — 95 minutes for the 1958 original, which was taken away from Welles and brutally cut by the studio; 108 minutes and 114 minutes in later versions; and 111 minutes in the 1998 restoration. Based on a 58-page memo written by Welles after he was barred from the editing room during the film’s original post-production, this restoration, among numerous other changes, removed the opening titles and Henry Mancini’s music from the opening crane shot, which in either version ranks as one of the most remarkably extended long takes in movie history.
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“A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.”
Courtesy of Turner Classic Movies:
An undeniable pioneer in both radio and film, actor-director Orson Welles used his bona fide genius to change the face of both mediums with imagination, ambition and technically daring.
Having started off as a performer on stage, most notably with John Houseman, with whom he formed the famed Mercury Theatre, Welles used his distinctive baritone voice to create innovative radio dramas. He became famous – notorious, even – following his 1938 broadcast of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, which he presented as a real time news event, sparking panic among listeners who thought Martians really were invading New Jersey.
The fame he achieved in the wake of the broadcast attracted RKO Pictures, where he made the most stunning directorial debut in the history of cinema with Citizen Kane (1941), long considered to be the greatest film ever made. Using innovative narrative and technological techniques, Welles singlehandedly changed the face of cinema, earning the nickname the Boy Wonder. He went on to direct The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), though both films were financial failures that prompted his exit from RKO.
After marrying Love Goddess Rita Hayworth and directing The Stranger (1946) and Macbeth (1948), Welles began a 10-year self-imposed Hollywood exile that saw him appear onscreen in movies like The Third Man (1949) while directing well-received films overseas like Othello (1952) and Mr. Arkadin (1955). He returned to Hollywood to helm Touch of Evil (1958), a classic film noir, while suffering a commercial drubbing with his adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial (1962).
His take on Shakespeare’s famed character, Falstaff, in Chimes at Midnight (1966) again earned international acclaim despite being largely ignored in the United States. Though he fell on hard times in the 1970s, Welles nonetheless remained busy with numerous projects in various stages of completion while appearing onscreen in a number of performances and using his distinctive voice in a variety of narrator roles. When he died in 1985, Welles left behind a legacy as a consummate artist and true auteur whose influence was profoundly felt by several generations of filmmakers.
Here is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:
11/25/15 – “What exactly is Film noir? Is it a movement, a mode, a style, or a genre? These questions have preoccupied film scholars for decades. According to filmmaker Paul Schrader, noir began with The Maltese Falcon and ended with Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil.” Drew Morton, indieWIRE – link
12/02/15 – Orson Welles was notorious for being out of sync with the studios he worked with and went so far as to write a 58 page memo to the Vice President of Universal Studios at the time, Edward I. Muhl, on how Touch of Evil was being tampered with and the corrections that should be made to fix the film. You can read the full memo here.
12/02/15 – “Restoring the Touch Of Genius to a Classic” by Walter Murch – link
12/04/15 – “…It’s greater and stranger than most conventionally good movies because of this bizarre thematic Möbius strip: Welles tried to make a personal artistic statement out of a B-movie thriller, and the thriller became the exact nightmare he was trying to make a statement about. In a way, the art was more self-aware than he was; it refused to stop being life. He had built the hall of mirrors, then found that he’d wandered into it.” Brian Phillips on The Lady from Shanghai, Grantland – link