Among the most pleasurable entries in director Orson Welles's filmography are those projects that find him trying to wedge his eccentricities into a standard genre template and failing to do so with fascinating results. The Lady From Shanghai, a late-'40s noir elaboration being screened on Tuesday, May 5, as part of the Denver Public Library's Fresh City Life series, is the most prime of examples.
Rita Hayworth, Welles's co-star (and then-wife), was among Hollywood's most glamorous figures of the era, renowned for her long, luxurious red hair — so, of course, he had her chop her locks and dye them blond in order to play an adulteress with more than her share of secrets. The plot, about a fake murder scheme that may be more genuine than claimed, is filled with twists and double-crosses that Welles accentuates via jagged editing and a thrillingly baroque visual style that reaches its peak in late sequences set in a Chinese theater and a hall of mirrors that reflects anything and everything — including Welles's twisted genius.
Get an eyeful of this particular Lady at 6 p.m. in the Level B2 Conference Center at DPL's central branch, 10 West 14th Avenue Parkway. There's no charge for admission. To learn more, call 720-865-1111 or visit www.denverlibrary.org.