By Bill Dudley

Film legend Orson Welles would be 100 years old if he was alive today. His great legacy of films is being celebrated this weekend by The American Cinematheque at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. Tonight the grandaddy of all his great achievements Citizen Kane will be screened along with The Magnificent Ambersons.

While still in his early 20s, Welles came from the theater world to create Citizen Kane. Many consider it one of the very best films of all time. Tomorrow night his Shakespearean efforts shine with Othello, and the seldom seen Chimes At Midnight (AKA: Falstaff).

Sunday night you can catch what I consider one of the greatest “Film Noir” efforts ever made, Touch Of Evil. This is a very decadent film about police corruption both directed by and starring Welles as an aging cop. He is both huge in size and depravity.

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh also star in this complex, trashy mix of evil and late 1950s nostalgia that also features the mature beauty Marlene Dietrich” and a young Zsa Zsa Gabor. This film was one of many that Welles was never quite allowed to finish in the edit he wanted to.

Fortunately, Touch Of Evil was restored to Welles original cut about 15 years ago with the help of Charlton Heston, who also attended the restored screening, along with Janet Leigh. Heston was sitting right in front of me for this, fortunately he was not armed, (as far as I know).

All films will be introduced by author F.X. Feeney, who will be signing his new book,”Orson Welles: “Power, Heart And Soul” before every screening. Following Touch Of Evil Sunday night, is a new documentary, Magician:The Astonishing Life And Work Of Orson Welles.

Chuck Workman has assembled stories and clips from all of Orson’s best known known works including stage, radio and film, including archival footage of Welles himself. This will be very informative for those of you who only remember the later life of this great talent, when he was reduced to doing commercial voice-overs selling “No wine before it’s time.”

For details and tickets to the screenings at Aero Theatre, visit americancinemathequecalendar.com.

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