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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Orson Welles wanted to pattern the funhouse on the expressionist images of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)." Stephen Goosson designed an elaborate set with sliding doors, distorting mirrors and a 125-foot zigzag slide from the roof of a studio sound stage down into a pit that was 80 feet long, 40 feet wide and 20 feet deep. See more »
The narrator mentions they arrive back in San Francisco in early October, but in the document (prepared by Grisby) that Michael signs verifying his killing of Grisby, it is dated August 9th, supposedly the next day. See more »
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.
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Opening credits shown over a water background. See more »
Okay, the chemistry between Welles and Hayworth was not great, and, to put an end to the "even though they were married" lines, they divorced two weeks after the release of the film. However, as a film-noir and a piece of Orson Welles' body of work, this film is top notch.
Its biggest flaw, besides Welles accent, is that the beginning of the movie is very slow. However, it is necessary for the ending to payoff. It's unfortunate that the current world is moving at light speed, and that movies are chastised for taking ample time to develop their world. A modern example of length being put to good use is The Count of Monte Cristo. Still, that film doesn't compare to "Shanghai".
Once the trial, which is often hilarious, begins, the movie reaches the heights of greatness. It all climaxes with a visually stunning ending in the mirror room of a fun house and a fantastic performance by Hayworth.
The film sticks with you.
Also recommended: The Third Man
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