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The Charlotte Observer, N.C., Lawrence Toppman Column

July 31, 2008

By Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer, N.C.

Jul. 31–Orson Welles has the title of Hollywood’s Most Abused Genius, because he produced one absolute masterpiece in “Citizen Kane,” a handful of near-classics and a lifetime of butchered movies studios recut or aborted.

But who can test this theory? You’d have to comb foreign countries to find all the missing work, and only a cineaste extraordinaire would go to such trouble. Luckily, Charlotte’s Ross Wilbanks is that kind of guy. He’s assembled the series “Orson Welles: The Other Side of Hollywood,” which collects almost all his films and fragments made outside the Hollywood system.

It starts Saturday with two films: “The Dominici Affair,” an unfinished made-for-TV documentary about the murder of a British family, and the reconstructed “Mr. Arkadin,” a twisty thriller that exists in multiple versions.

“It’s All True” and “One-Man Band” run Aug. 9, “Filming Othello” and “Othello” Aug. 16, “Around the World with Orson Welles” and “F for Fake” Aug. 23. The crowning glory is on Aug. 30: “Chimes at Midnight,” a blend of stories about Shakespeare’s Falstaff, preceded by “The Immortal Story.”

There’s a “variety reel” at 7:30 nightly; the first film starts at 8. They’re at Patchwerk Playhaus, inside Century Vintage at 1508 Central Ave. (See www.patch werkplayhaus.blogspot.com.) Write rosswilbanks@ gmail.com if you’d like to know more about his upcoming rarities: The films are always free, but he’s glad to get any donations.

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