Tonight's Saturday Night Cinema is a gem. Full disclosure: I love anything and everything Welles does (even his wine commercials). He was a master, a genius. And Rita Hayworth? Atlas readers know Rita is so my girl. I. just. love. her. This looms as the pivotal work of Welles's career, one of the greatest glories of the American cinema, and undoubtedly the trashiest masterpiece in motion picture history.
One of Orson Welles' best films, this highlight of 1940s film noir stars Rita Hayworth at her most desirable. French director Francois Truffaut said it best: The raison d'etre for this work is "cinema itself"--the climactic mirror sequence is a stunner
Filmsite: The film was made when major stars Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth (in her last film under contract to Columbia Pictures) were still married although estranged and drifting apart. [Their divorce decree was issued in November 1947, thereby making the film itself and their characterizations a visualization of their own personal breakup.] Believing that Hayworth's sexy screen image (after her success in Gilda (1946)) was tarnished forever with her role in the film as a wicked and evil temptress, studio chief Harry Cohn was also incensed to find that his reigning, top box-office star's magnificent auburn hair was bobbed, waved and bleached blonde for the film.
Orson Welles served as director, producer, screenplay writer, and actor, basing his screenplay upon Sherwood King's 1938 novel If I Die Before I Wake. The film was shot on locations including Acapulco and San Francisco (such as the Sausalito waterfront and the Valhalla Bar and Cafe, Chinatown, the Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park, and Whitney's Playland amusement park at the beach), and on Columbia studios sets, and features numerous classic set-pieces including: the aquarium scene, and the funhouse and Hall of Mirrors climax. [The numerous close-ups of Rita Hayworth in the film were later added by Welles in Hollywood upon orders of the studio, to lend strength to her 'star' power.] Ultimately, the film's length was severely cut down by one hour, creating an almost incomprehensible, discontinuous, cryptic patchwork from numerous retakes and substantial edits. This was Welles' last Hollywood film until the making of Touch of Evil (1958) ten years later.