7.7/10
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The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 24 December 1947 (France)
Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister, seaman Michael O'Hara joins a bizarre yachting cruise, and ends up mired in a complex murder plot.

Director:

Orson Welles (uncredited)

Writers:

Sherwood King (story based on a novel by), Orson Welles (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Rita Hayworth ... Elsa Bannister
Orson Welles ... Michael O'Hara
Everett Sloane ... Arthur Bannister
Glenn Anders ... George Grisby
Ted de Corsia ... Sidney Broome (as Ted De Corsia)
Erskine Sanford ... Judge
Gus Schilling ... Goldie
Carl Frank Carl Frank ... District Attorney Galloway
Louis Merrill Louis Merrill ... Jake Bjornsen
Evelyn Ellis Evelyn Ellis ... Bessie
Harry Shannon ... Cab Driver
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Storyline

Michael O'Hara, against his better judgement, hires on as a crew member of Arthur Bannister's yacht, sailing to San Francisco. They pick up Grisby, Bannister's law partner, en route. Bannister has a wife, Elsa, who seems to like Michael much better than she likes her husband. After they dock in Sausalito, Michael goes along with Grisby's weird plan to fake his (Grisby's) murder so he can disappear untailed. He wants the $5000 Grisby has offered, so he can run off with Elsa. But Grisby turns up actually murdered, and Michael gets blamed for it. Somebody set him up, but it is not clear who or how. Bannister (the actual murderer?) defends Michael in court. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Story Of A Reckless Woman! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Cantonese

Release Date:

24 December 1947 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

If I Die Before I Wake See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,927, 30 August 1998, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,927, 30 August 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Orson Welles' decision to have Rita Hayworth cut her hair and bleach it caused a storm of controversy, and many in Hollywood believed it contributed to the film's poor box-office returns. See more »

Goofs

When Michael first sees Elsa in the carriage in the park, her first close-up shows a static background, even though the carriage is moving at the time. The insert is clearly an edit from the later close-up - after the carriage has stopped and before she accepts his offer of a cigarette. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Michael O'Hara: When I start out to make a fool of myself, there's very little can stop me. If I'd known where it would end, I'd never let anything start... if I'd been in my right mind, that is. But once I'd seen her, once I'd seen her, I was not in my right mind for quite some time.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits shown over a water background. See more »

Connections

Featured in Arena: The Orson Welles Story - Part 1 (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Please Don't Kiss Me
by Allan Roberts and Doris Fisher
Performed by Rita Hayworth (dubbed by Anita Ellis) (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Not so lovely Rita
23 January 2016 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

Reading the chequered history of the making of this movie, one will always wonder how close the finished result matched Welles' original vision. Was it just a knock-off version of a cheap pulp-fiction novel Welles just happened upon or was there a deeper artistic intent at work? I personally think that while it maybe started off as a quickie stop-gap thriller for Welles, he unquestionably picked it up and ran with it as only he could and even if Harry Cohn and his cohorts did hijack the finished article in the interests of commerciality, Welles' talent and verve transcend even the skewered and compromised cut we see here.

Sure there are lots of strange, even occasionally surreal aspects to the film, Welles' "Oirish" accent, that he's almost always in three-quarter profile facing the left, the massive close-ups and occasional crazy-cutting, the talking in Chinese to name but a few, but it also contains memorable, bravura scenes which only Orson could devise, like his deconstruction of the clichéd courtroom scene, his and Rita Hayworth's rendezvous at the aquarium with massive shape-shifting marine life glowing and glowering behind them, the upshot in the Chinese Theatre and of course the terrific climax in the hall of mirrors.

The motives of the characters and consistencies of the plot are at times seemingly thrown to the wind but somehow you're swept along, rather like Welles Black Irish Michael O'Hara, like a cork on the sea and left at the end deposited on the shore, breathless, confused but exhilarated. I know there are those who think it's a terrible movie and who blame the money-men saboteurs, but I loved it, warts and all. Although you never get used to that brogue, Welles is great in the lead role, Hayworth too in a misunderstood role. Then characters like the greasy, grisly Grisby and the lame, sardonic husband (the way he drawls the word "lover") really get under your skin as they're meant to. And there's more, those close-ups showing the sweat, dread bewilderment and blankness of his characters' faces, the great dialogue, especially the analogy of humans with sharks, the little dots of humour with the various reactions of the public in the gallery of the court scene ("You're kidding, right?") and the chase scenes so reminiscent of "The Third Man", to name but a few.

Someday I'd love to see the film Welles had in his head, but then you could say that about almost all his projects going right back to "Citizen Kane". I'm a fan and in the end have to be grateful for the small mercies of just whatever he was able to get released through the studio system, flaws, tampering and all. And I love film noir, so this was great for me to watch and I think it is a great watch too.


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