Film and TV

The Lady From Shanghai

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

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts