July 31, 2008

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

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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