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Welles' camera seemed almost to caress Rita Hayworth...
Nazi_Fighter_David3 May 2005
After all, you do not go to an Orson Welles movie to see a nice simple little plot and a burnishing of the image of a happy-ever-after star…

You go to see theatrically heightened characters locked in conflict against colorful and unusual settings, lighted and scored imaginatively, photographed bravely, and the whole thing peppered with unexpected details of surprise that a wiser and duller director would either avoid or not think of in the first place…

As usual, as well as directing, Welles wrote the script and he also played the hero – a young Irish seaman who had knocked about the world and seen its evil, but still retained his clear-eyed trust in the goodness of others… Unfortunately for him, he reposed this trust in Rita Hayworth, whose cool good looks concealed a gloomy past and murderous inclinations for the future… She was married without love, to an impotent, crippled advocate, acted like a malevolent lizard by the brilliant Everett Sloane…

There is a youthful romanticism underlying it all, and this quality came into exuberant play in "The Lady from Shanghai." Before the inevitable happened, Welles escaped – to a final triangular showdown in a hall of mirrors, which has become one of the classic scenes of the post-war cinema …

Welles did not miss a chance throughout the whole film to counterpoint the words and actions with visual detail which enriched the texture and heightened the atmosphere… His camera seemed almost to caress Rita Hayworth as the sun played with her hair and her long limbs while she playfully teased the young seaman into her web…
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Orson's Corrections
Narrator_Jack_dot_com21 February 2006
These are excerpts from a nine-page "Memo to Mr. Cohn from Mr. Welles", written after Orson had seen studio mogul Harry Cohn's edited version of the picture (he took an hour out):

"...The preview title music was written by a first rate composer, George Antheil. Although not written for our picture at all, this temporary title music had an atmosphere of darkness and menace combined with something lush and romantic which made it acceptable...The only musical idea which seems to have occurred to this present composer (Heinz Roemheld) is the rather weary one of using a popular song--the "theme"--in as many arrangements as possible. Throughout we have musical references to "Please Don't Kiss Me" for almost every bridge and also for a great deal of the background material. The tune is pleasing, it may do very well on the Hit Parade--but Lady from Shanghai is not a musical comedy...Mr. Roemheld is an ardent devotee of an old-fashioned type of scoring now referred to in our business as "Disney". In other words, if somebody falls down, he makes a "falling down" sound in the orchestra, etc., etc...If the lab had scratched initials and phone numbers all over the negative, I couldn't be unhappier about the results...Just before I left to go abroad, I asked Vi (Viola Lawrence, the editor) to make a cut which would involve dropping the near accident with the taxi-cab and also quite a bit of dialogue. I am convinced that this would have been an excellent cut...saving much needed footage in the slow opening sequence (this was not done, accounting for the main weaknesses of the film's opening reel)...There is nothing in the fact of Rita's diving to warrant a big orchestral crescendo...What does matter is Rita's beauty...the evil overtones suggested by Grigsby's character, and Michael's bewilderment. Any or all of these items might have inspired the music. Instead, the dive is treated as though it were a major climax or some antic moment in a Silly Symphony: a pratfall by Pluto the Pup, or a wild jump into space by Donald Duck...There is no sound atmosphere on the boat. A little wind and water is sorely missed. There's no point in photographing a scene on a real boat if you make it sound as though it all happened in front of a process screen...At the start of the picnic the temporary score, we used a very curious, sexy Latin-American strain...This has been replaced with a corny "dramatic" sequel--bad stock stuff...This sort of music destroys that quality of strangeness which is exactly what might have saved Lady from Shanghai from being just another whodunit...There is a big musical outburst after Grigsby's line, "I want you to kill him." This is absurd...The Hawaiian guitar music which comes out of the radio...was supposed to be corny enough to make a certain satirical point. As it stands now, it's on about the same level as the rest of the scoring. Nobody in the audience could possibly suspect that we're kidding...The aquarium scene needs more echo. "Please Don't Kiss Me" is in again!...A bad dubbing job and poor scoring has destroyed the character of Michael's run down the pier. From the gunshot through to the phone call, a careful pattern of voices had been built up with the expenditure of much time and effort. For some reason, this has all been junked in favor of a vague hullabaloo. As a result, the whole sequence seems dull...The audience should feel at this point, along with Michael, that maybe they are going crazy. The new dubbing job can only make them feel that maybe they're going to sleep...The gun battle with the breaking mirrors must not be backed with music...The closing music again makes reference to "Please Don't Kiss Me"...This finale is obvious to the point of vulgarity, and does incalculable injury to the finish of the picture."

All of these edits from Orson were ignored
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Highly underrated exercise in style
mrwelles27 October 1998
Orson Welles' "The Lady From Shanghai" does not have the brilliant screenplay of "Citizen Kane," e.g., but Charles Lawton, Jr.'s cinematography, the unforgettable set pieces (such as the scene in the aquarium, the seagoing scene featuring a stunning, blonde-tressed Rita Hayworth singing "Please Don't Love Me," and the truly amazing Hall of Mirrors climax), and the wonderful cast (Everett Sloane in his greatest performance, Welles in a beautifully under-played role, the afore-mentioned Miss Hayworth--Welles' wife at the time--at her most gorgeous) make for a very memorable filmgoing experience. The bizarre murder mystery plot is fun and compelling, not inscrutable at all. The viewer is surprised by the twists and turns, and Welles' closing line is an unheralded classic. "The Lady From Shanghai" gets four stars from this impartial arbiter.
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Looks Like It Could have Been a True Classic, But....
Don-10221 April 1999
Warning: Spoilers
After CITIZEN KANE in 1941, Hollywood executives turned their cob-webbed backs on the great Orson Welles. With the exception of KANE, Welles lost all creative control on MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, JOURNEY INTO FEAR, and many other films to come. Welles was an innovative and creative genius, the most unconventional of filmmakers when Hollywood was in need of a few more. THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI is yet another example of the misunderstood view of Welles' films at the time, a movie that seems a bit choppy and non-fluent. It has a conventional 1940's premise told in a most unconventional way, and I am sure some scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. It is now legend that Columbia mogul Harry Cohn stood up during its initial screening and asked what it was about. In hindsight, many old grumps that ran the studios back then had not one clue as to the cinematic techniques and master story-telling of Orson Welles and THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI is only nearly great because of their intrusion.

Beside being arguably the greatest director of all-time, Welles was also quite a performer as an actor. At 25, we all know what he did as "Charles Foster Kane", perhaps the most famous character in film history. Here, he inhabits a rare character of dim wit and not much intelligence, something unfamiliar to those familiar with Welles other great work. Instead of a slick, wise tongue, he speaks with a rough, Irish twang. Rita Hayworth (his unhappily married wife at the time) plays an unhappily married wife of a lawyer who puts Welles in a spell and is able to draw him into a job that will take him to the limits of deception and disillusionment. He is a large lug who may have even murdered a man, but the real mystery lies in the relationship between Hayworth (with stunning blonde hair) and crippled hubby Everett Sloane (Mr. Bernstein from CITIZEN KANE). A creepy partner of Sloane's is along for the sail around the country to set off a number of peculiar events that has Welles' "Michael O'Hara" head spinning. Welles narrates the picture as O'Hara, but things are still unclear throughout. See for yourself and realize that it takes at least 2 viewings to fully know exactly what's up.

An uncharacteristically strange courtroom sequence centers around "O'Hara", with Sloane defending him. It is an oddly comedic scene with some quirky courtroom methods, including Sloane cross-examining himself. I didn't really laugh here because the film stalls at this point after a first portion that never gets to take off anyway. Up to this point, the cinematography is great, some scenes are shot with craft and skill (aquarium love scene), but there is no distinct line drawing the elements and us, the audience, in. Reportedly, the court scene was re-shot against Welles' requests (10 closeups of Hayworth were ordered) and a makeshift song sung by the starlet was thrown in at Cohn's insistence. A gaudy score infuriated Welles, who once again, was left out of the editing process. Thank Welles himself for saving the film entirely with a tour-de-force ending that will always be treasured. The so-called "Hall of Mirrors" scene brings buffs back time and time again, rightfully so.

It must be seen to be believed and it does a good job of wrapping up some confusing ideas presented. The crash of the mirrors represents "O'Hara's" disillusionment and the "crazy house" itself is a masterpiece of art and set decoration. It seems more like a state of mind than an actual place and is indeed "crazy", twisted and turned like a Dali painting. This is a great ending to a flawed picture that if left alone would probably have made the AFI's Top 100. Then again, 3 or 4 more of Orson Welles films may have made all collective "best of" lists if he had been left alone to create his own magic.

NOTE: Look for the Mercury Players that are so prominent in Welles pictures. They pop up all over. RATING: 8 of 10
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This Is One Wild-And-Crazy Film Noir!
ccthemovieman-113 October 2005
Of all the film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s, this has to rank as one of the strangest, and most fun to watch. I say that because of the four main actors: Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane and Glenn Anders.

The first two names are familiar to everyone but it was the last two that made this movie so entertaining to me, especially Anders. His character, "George Grisby," is one of the strangest people I've ever seen on film. His voice, and some of the things he said, have to be heard to be believed. Slaone isn't far behind in the "strange" category. Hayworth is not as glamorous with short, blonde hair but still is Hayworth, which means a lot to ogle if you are a guy. Welles' is as fascinating as always. One tip: if you have the DVD, turn on the English subtitles. His character in this movie is an Irishman and you need the subtitles to understand everything he says.

Welles also directed the film which means you have great camera angles and wonderful facial closeups. You also have a unique ending, visually, with a shootout in a house of mirrors. Great stuff! As bizarre as this film is, I still thought the buffoon-like carnival atmosphere at the trial near the end was too much and took away from the seriousness of the scene. Other than that, no complaints.

This is great entertainment, which is the name of the game.
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Orson Welles takes on a pulp-noir novel and, at the least, makes it his own
MisterWhiplash12 January 2004
As I watched one of Orson Welles' last contributions to Hollywood as a filmmaker, I knew I was watching a great movie unfold, though at times I did not know why. The story in The Lady from Shanghai has the prime elements of a film-noir: average-Joe lead, femme fatale, conspicuous supporting characters, and a comprehensible if somewhat convoluted plot structure. It is an entertaining ride, and it's filled to the brim with Welles' unique gifts as a director, but there are scenes that tend to just not work, or don't feel complete in what was Welles' full vision (the latter is unfortunately too true- executive producer Harry Cohn and the Columbia execs are to blame for that).

Welles co-stars with his then wife, the profoundly gorgeous Rita Hayworth, as Mike O'Hara, an Irish worker who can and does get angry at the right people. Hayworth is Mrs. Bannister, married to Mr. Bannister (Everett Sloane, who played Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane), who is accompanied by a friend Mr. Grisby (Glenn Anders, who has great control in his eyes). They want to go sailing on their yacht and take O'Hara along for the ride, and at first he's reluctant, but agrees since he's falling for the married Mrs. As their journey unfolds, O'Hara finds that Bannister and Grisby are not pleasant to be around, and more so with Grisby, who at first seems out of his gourd. Yet as the plot unfolds, O'Hara is drawn into a scam that Grisby is planning for insurance money, with results that I dare not reveal (although they have been discussed over and over by others).

Whatever liabilities pop up here and there in the mystery part of the story (and those few noticeable moments where shots were studio dictated), the performances and the look of the film are what remains striking after over fifty-five years. Though he doesn't have the terrific Greg Tolland (Kane's DP) at his side, dependable Charles Lawton Jr. assists Welles in creating an atmosphere that is both elegant and stark, covered in shadows, deep focus, low angles, the works. A particular accomplishment is the fun-house mirror scene, which is merely a highlight among others. Welles himself is always dependable as an actor- even if his accent isn't anything special- and Hayworth herself makes a scene a little more lush, despite her path in the story.

The Lady from Shanghai is worth checking out, especially for Welles, Hayworth, or film-noir buffs (fans of the Coen brothers might find this fascinating as well). It may just take a little while, repeat viewings (as was for Touch of Evil), for the underlying motives in the plot to sink in.
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Good film, Great ending
jkerr21610 August 2004
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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Mirror, mirror...
jotix1001 April 2004
One can only imagine the film Mr. Welles might have finished without the interference of the studio! This film is a flawed Welles, but worth every minute of it because one can see the greatness of perhaps America's best motion picture director of all times!

We can see the toll it took on Orson Welles the filming of this movie. The story has a lot of holes in it, perhaps because of the demands of the studio executives that didn't trust the director.

It is curious by reading some of the opinions submitted to IMDB that compare Orson Welles with the Coen brothers, Roman Polanski, even Woody Allen, when it should be all of those directors that must be regarded as followers of the great master himself. No one was more original and creative in the history of American cinema than Mr. Welles. Lucky are we to still have his legacy either in retrospective looks such as the one the Film Forum in New York just ended, or his films either on tape or DVD form.

Rita Hayworth was never more lovingly photographed than here. If she was a beauty with her red hair, as a blonde, she is just too stunning for words. Everett Sloan and Glenn Anders made an excellent contribution to the movie.

The only thing that might have made this film another masterpiece to be added to Orson Welles body of work, was his own appearance in it. Had he concentrated in the directing and had another actor interpret Michael O'Hara, a different film might have been achieved altogether. Orson Welles has to be credited for being perhaps a pioneer in taking the camera away from the studio lot into the street. The visuals in this film are so amazing that we leave the theater after seeing this movie truly impressed for the work, the vision and the talent he gave us.
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A Noir Experience
objxs23 March 2003
Made in 1946 and released in 1948, The Lady and Shanghai was one of the big films made by Welles after returning from relative exile for making Citizen Kane. Dark, brooding and expressing some early Cold War paranoia, this film stands tall as a Film-Noir crime film. The cinematography of this film is filled with Welles' characteristic quirks of odd angles, quick cuts, long pans and sinister lighting. The use of ambient street music is a precursor to the incredible long opening shot in Touch of Evil, and the mysterious Chinese characters and the sequences in Chinatown can only be considered as the inspiration, in many ways, to Roman Polanski's Chinatown. Unfortunately, it is Welles' obsession with technical filmmaking that hurts this film in its entirety. The plot of this story is often lost behind a sometimes incomprehensible clutter of film techniques.

However, despite this criticism, the story combined with wonderful performances by Welles, Hayworth and especially Glenn Anders (Laughter) make this film a joy to watch. Orson Welles pulls off not only the Irish brogue, but the torn identities as the honest but dangerous sailor. Rita Hayworth, who was married to Welles at the time, breaks with her usual roles as a sex goddess and takes on a role of real depth and contradictions. Finally, Glenn Anders strange and bizarre portrayal or Elsa's husbands' law partner is nothing short of classic!
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"It's A Bright, Guilty World"
stryker-529 June 2000
Michael O'Hara is a charming Irish sailor, a drifter who encounters a beautiful woman in Central Park, saves her from attackers, and finds himself drawn inexorably into her eerie world.

Orson Welles wrote this screenplay, and adaptation of of a Sherwood King novel. He had great difficulty getting it past Joseph Breen, the overseer of the Motion Picture Production Code, and in the end had to drop the ending in which O'Hara persuades Elsa to kill herself. Welles also directed the film and played the key role of O'Hara, a character with strong Wellesian resonances. As Higham, Welles' biographer, puts it, "Like Welles, O'Hara rejoices in being eccentric and poor ... and sees through and condemns all corruption."

The great Rita Hayworth was estranged from her husband Welles in mid-1946, and agreed to take the role of Elsa Bannister as part of a final bid to save the marriage. Elsa is the Lady From Shanghai, the temptress whose sexual allure ensnares O'Hara. Arthur Bannister, the complaisant cuckold, is played by Everett Sloane, stalwart of the Mercury Theatre and long-time Welles collaborator. The disturbing role of the deranged George Grisby is taken by Glenn Anders, his face distorted by wide-angle lenses to suggest the psychotic menace of the law partner with the bizarre death-wish. It has been claimed that Welles based Grisby's character on the real-life Nelson Rockefeller.

As one would expect from Welles, there are some stunning visuals in this film, and some hauntingly memorable screen moments. Hayworth sings the love song beautifully, and the Acapulco interlude is visually delightful. The cast works brilliantly as an ensemble, delivering the Wellesian dialogue with purring efficiency. The Central Park sequence involves the longest continuous dolly-shot ever filmed. Later, we see the arches of the Calle del Mercadero slip by moodily as the camera tracks down the street, and then the angle is reversed and we see the colonnade from inside. Only Welles could come up with the aquarium idea, with shots of a different, better, aquarium matted in to give the exact effect that he wanted - a silent commentary on predators. The rounded tops of the fish tanks link the aquarium thematically with the Calle del Mercadero. The famous final sequence in the fun fair was butchered by the studio, reduced to a mere sherd of Welles' original scheme, but still terrific. Our spatial perceptions are toyed with, much as O'Hara's moral bearings have been skewed by Elsa.

One part of the film which fails badly is the trial scene. Absurdities proliferate. A defence attorney finds himself called to the stand as a prosecution witness, and if that is not silly enough, he then proceeds to cross-examine himself. The surprise subpoena is nonsense.

Verdict - A relatively lightweight offering from Welles contains good things, but is marred by the risible courtroom scene.
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Visually stunning, but badly written and acted film noir
harunmushod23 September 2003
Apparently Welles made this film to help finance a Mercury Theatre production. It shows. It's sloppy.

The film noir plot is complex. Too complex for Welles, it's riddled with holes. The whole thing hinges on O'Hara behaving in ways that only a fool would even consider. Hayworth is stunning but equally idiotic as the femme fatale. However, Everett Sloane and Glenn Anders are good fun as the Hayworth's crippled, hot-shot criminal defence lawyer, husband and his giggling, slimy business partner, although their performances hinge on caricature rather than character.

The trial scene is hilarious, but in ways that were probably not entirely intended by Welles. Sloane is defending Welles on a murder charge, but then both Sloane and Hayworth, Sloane's wife, get called as witnesses for the prosecution without notice. The whole thing is farcical, so farcical indeed that Welles's character decides to scarper. Visually the section that follows is one of the most stunning I have seen.

Finally, Welles's Irish accent was awful. There did not appear to be any reason for it. His character could just as easily have been an American for all the difference it made to the plot.

In all, the whole is one of the most laughable film noirs I have ever seen.
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oconnor093010 March 2010
"The Lady from Shanghai" simply does not make sense. The plot is so complex that I don't even think Welles knew what was going on. However, it is probably not his fault since the studio cut almost a full hour out, leaving huge chunks missing.

Visually, it is very well done. Classic to the film noir style of the period, there are ominous shadows throughout. Two scenes in particular really stand out. The scene with the aquarium is visually stimulating with its use of flickering light. The finale at the Funhouse and House of Mirrors showcases Welles brilliant direction.

All in all, the mood and atmosphere of this film noir and the periodically brilliance of Welles fail to make up for the choppy viewing experience of this erratically, over-edited movie. In the end, it was too confusing—which is its biggest downfall.
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Not so lovely Rita
Lejink23 January 2016
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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Chinese Puzzle
tedg24 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
The first mystery is to guess what Welles' original film was like. That makes this a real adventure -- to see an incomplete skeleton and using cinematic forensics, imagine the beautiful woman it once supported.

If you do, you will both see and experience perhaps one of the best film mysteries ever. As mysteries go, the narrative is rather ordinary: a simple diversion, one jealous husband as red herring.

What's rather miraculous is Welles' placement of the story in an artificial eye seeing a dark, dark multifaceted world. The first real noir, but even darker. It's not an obviously twisted world, unless you think about the camera. What we can see firsthand is someone creating a vocabulary that would later become common.

For all the celebration, Kane was a success because of the great drama and story. The camera's eye was shocking, but experimental. Welles would go from there to explore the mystery narrative and the self-reference of Shakespeare with this eye. Othello and MacBeth are both begun in this period, and I consider them part of a single vision with this.

The noir feel here hinges on the notion that people are not in charge of their lives, even a little -- they are manipulated by random factors in the environment. So in telling this story, Welles has to make the environment into a character. Several characters as suspects in the mystery.

Thus we have the famous lighting, blocking and angles we know (and have since seen countless times). And we have the deliberately closed sets: the park, yacht, picnic area, aquarium, dock, courtroom, Chinese theater and funhouse. I am certain that what was cut by the barbarians was lots and lots of 'external' narrative dealing not with character but with these strange environments.

My own solution to the mystery is that the funhouse did it, among the other character-environments introduced as suspects. In other words, the manipulation of Black Irish (who we know from notes and one scene typing at the union hall was an aspiring novelist) was neither: a force of human conspiracy (the park or the civilized version, the courtroom) nor of nature (the picnic or the civilized version, the aquarium).

Instead it was a matter of deliberate caprice by the gods for amusement. This is of course a self-reference to what Welles is doing: putting these people (including himself) through hell for our own caprice, a matter underscored by the Peking Opera set with Welles doped up. And of course leading to the funhouse where the environment directly tinkers with perception.

More about the self-reference: surely there is conscious comment on his relationship with his soon to be exwife. But I believe there is strong subconscious comment on his own taunting the environment in which he worked, the studio environment. Surely Welles was as much screwed with, and in much the same way, as his character. And that screwing took the form of the murder of this film, leaving the rotting corpse mentioned at the beginning of this comment.

That poor Rita comes from China ties up the whole thing, the Chinese theater, the expected rape from above, the loss of the woman. The investment in environment beyond all.
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Michael O'Hara's Femme Fatale
bkoganbing10 March 2007
At the point in time that The Lady from Shanghai was being made, the marriage of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth was disintegrating. The film was as much an effort by Welles to rekindle the old flames as it was to make a classic noir. Not received well at the time, The Lady from Shanghai has gotten more and more critical acclaim as years pass. Gotten better with age so to speak.

Welles is Irish seaman Michael O'Hara who on a fateful night rescues the beautiful Rita Hayworth from three muggers in Central Park. Sparks do fly, but then comes the rub, turns out the lady is married to crippled, but brilliant criminal attorney Everett Sloane. Nevertheless Sloane takes an apparent liking to Welles and hires him to skipper his yacht.

So far this film is starting to sound a lot like Gilda. If Orson had seen Gilda and was not at this point thinking with his male member, he would have skedaddled back to the seaman's hiring hall in Lower Manhattan. Instead he gets himself involved in a lovely web or intrigue and finds himself pegged for two murders and Sloane as his eminent counsel.

Welles for whatever reason decided that his wife would be a blond in this film. Supposedly Harry Cohn hit the roof as Rita was internationally known for her coppery red hair. This may have soured him on the picture as he joined the legion of studio bosses who saw Welles's vision of independent film making a threat to their power.

Stage actor Glenn Anders plays Sloane's partner Grisby who is one slimy dude, he winds up a corpse. The other corpse to be here is Ted DeCorsia, a bottom feeding private detective who tries to go in business for himself.

It's a good noir thriller, showing Rita at her glamorous best even if she was a blond here. The final shoot out in the hall of mirrors is beautifully staged, but I wouldn't recommend seeing it if one is on any controlled substance.
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Amazing visual intensity and piercing acting make up for any flaws by far
secondtake11 February 2011
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

There is no getting around talking about the director of a movie like this. Orson Welles made this on a lark, to fulfill an obligation, and you can tell it is loose to the point of careless in some ways. And the plot isn't totally clear as you go, nor are the motivations of the characters.

But this slightly off, slightly illogical, slightly (or very) bizarre construction is exactly what makes the movie work. So, first off, I think this is a masterpiece. The way it veers from telling a story to suggesting one, the way it shows reactions by heightening them to the point of surreal drama, the way scenes that are improbable and invented and made fabulous, as in some kind of dream, all of this is great movie-making, and makes for an interesting movie, too (the one not always leading to the other).

If you asked Godard, he would say this is Welles's best film, and I'm inclined to at least see why. It has the total excess and expressionist eye candy of the best of both "Kane" and "Touch of Evil" but it also has something they don't have, and that's this feeling of being on a journey, floating through the world in a beautiful way, regardless of what happens. And this is what the main character experiences, the man called Michael played by Orson himself (with a terrible and irritating accent that is an attempt at a brogue).

There are fascinating tidbits behind the movie, but maybe the one that you need to know for it's layering of meaning is that the leading woman, Rita Hayworth, had just ended a relationship with Welles. They were still married but were separated, and you can kind of feel their lingering feelings mixed with doubts, on screen. Or so I thought.

The filming--the photography and lighting--is amazing, truly phenomenal stuff. It ranges from moody water scenes (the twilight party is terrific, visually) to close-ups of sweaty faces to the legendary (rightfully) final scene with the mirrors, shattering, multiplying, dissecting. So just for what it looks like this is a terrific ride. But in fact the acting is intense and edgy, and the plot, once it starts to gel halfway through, is clever and fun. The whole Asian slant to the title, and the opening conversation, comes around full tilt with a great ending in San Francisco's Chinatown.

If you like Orson Welles, you've probably seen this by now, but if not, do so. But don't expect the kind of tightly constructed movie you get with his other films. It's almost an art film, with a bigger budget, and is rightfully in its own category. Great stuff.
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For Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth fans only
wemogil6 July 2003
If you are studying Welles and want to see just how far he fell after Citizen Kane, this film will prove it. The cheap excuse of making the protagonist a self-admitted dummy to explain how he might fall into such a half-baked scheme fails to explain the absurd courtroom theatrics and ridiculous plot twists that eventually ensue. Don't be taken in by the high rating of this film in the db as I was; all I can guess is that there are a lot of die hard old Welles and Hayworth fans out there.
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trimmerb123420 November 2016
Boxer Mohammed Ali's reputation and super-confident show-boating in the ring used to over-awe opponents before a punch was thrown. And any appearance of Orson Welles seems to have a similar effect on reviewers - a page full of his oeuvre and comparisons therein. I've always taken Orson Welles as I found him without necessarily assuming he is the worlds greatest actor and or director.

Here his acting is not especially good, not for the first time he has difficulty fitting his dramatic girth into a lesser figure, this time the Irishman - or rather Hoirishman - Mike, the well travelled drifter who knew danger when he saw it yet couldn't do a damned thing to stop himself. Yet perhaps Welles was stepping aside as an actor and giving the stage to the others. It is not the plot as such that grips, its the chemistry of the trio. It takes a certain worldliness and imagination to connect great beauty with great danger. It's the things that great beauty can make men do -the jealousy, competition to a murderous degree or to take self-annihilating risks.It is that same elemental male instinct which has animal rivals fight to the death over a female. Welles clearly knows first hand and it shows - Rita Hayworth never smouldered more. Everet Sloane, the crippled rich husband, manages to put such an edge on his term of endearment, "Love-er" for and to his wife as to constantly provoke doubts if he really is the easy cuckold or rather a cynical arch-manipulator. The oddball Grisby with his seemingly insane scheme. There is a constant pervasive discordant edginess perfectly evoked causing alarm bells to constantly ring in the audiences ears.

It's this rather than any standard film criticism judgements which deeply impresses A 7.5
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"When I start out to make a fool of myself there's very little can stop me."
elvircorhodzic7 August 2016
I wonder, if necessary with a clear story to make a complex movie. Welles is probably knew what he was doing. I think that some segments are superfluous. While looking at the totality of the movie I really like. I must admit that at times I had the impression that director is bored. Scenery is at the level. Expressionist style is commendable. The atmosphere answer noir, particularly in instances where the narrator sounds dazed. The story of an ordinary guy (sailor), the mysterious femme fatale, murder, love, hate, greed, jealousy, and of course money. Nothing special.

The tension in the shadow of confusion of the main character. He initially acts like he does not feel selfishness, crime or pathetic. The vicious young man, charming blond beauty, a criminal lawyer and frantic enthusiast correspond with noir themes.

Rita Hayworth as Elsa "Rosalie" Bannister is a balm for the human eye. Redhead, blonde ... who cares. A victim of its own deception in hazardous locations. Performance is solid. Its role is perhaps a little vague.

Two lunatics. Sloane as a successful, self-centered lawyer and sick husband. Anders as annoying, vague and delighted enthusiast. Both actors are the right choice.

Orson Welles as Michael O'Hara is playful in its own particular incident. I've used a couple of times a sweet laugh, when the main protagonist tries to be serious. Romance is not passed the exam. The culprit is solely Welles. The best is in the narrative. It was discovered absolutely everything about this movie.

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI is very exciting movie, in which a little more experimentation. Anthology scene a final settlement in the house of mirrors will certainly be remembered. I will remember the final monologue.
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Lady from Shanghi
simplesimon41910 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The Lady from Shanghai did not impress me, although it was visually appealing and interesting to watch the scenes with the long-takes. I especially liked the scene in the fun house-that was suspenseful and really gave you the confused drug induced feeling. The plot was confusing and I expect that is the way the Orson Welles intended it, but it lost me. I felt no sympathy or concern for Welles' character. I think that Rita Hayworth was beautiful and mysterious. I noticed how they lit her face to make her more beautiful. I also loved the courthouse scene, it kind of reminded me of the similar scene in Alice in Wonderland-sort of comical but surreal.
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Complex and outlandish thriller in which an Irish sailor , magnificently played by Orson Welles , joins a bizarre yachting cruise
ma-cortes3 December 2014
This suspenseful as well as courageous movie contains intrigue , thrills , plot twists and layered dialog prevail . Fascinated by gorgeous Mrs. Bannister (Rita Hayworth), a somewhat naive seaman Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) joins a sea cruise along with a seductive and amoral wife , her lawyer husband (Everett Sloane) , his colleague (Glenn Anders) and ends up mired in a complex murder plot . At the final takes place a riveting and known climax in the hall of mirrors at San Francisco's old Oceanfront Playland .

Noir film with a twisted and offbeat intrigue in which an Irish man becomes involved a pawn in a game of killing . This excellent and utterly compelling thriller is packed with thrills , emotion , betrayals , turns and a hard plot , including a climatic ending scene . Well based on novel by Sherwood King , being scripted , produced and directed by the same Orson Welles who includes a tongue-in-cheek approach to retelling . ¨Lady from Shanghai¨ is an interesting and fascinating flick , other titles considered for the film were "Black Irish" and "If I Die Before I Wake," the title of the novel upon which the film was based . The yacht on which much of the action takes place was the "Zaca", which was rented from its owner, Errol Flynn . Flynn skippered the Zaca between takes, and he can be spotted in the background in a scene outside a Cantina . Awesome acting by main cast , Orson Welles is top-notch as an ingenuous adventurer , made cat's paw in a criminal scheme, who joins seductive Rita and accompanies her husband aboard a bizarre sea cruise . 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 . Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn thought the movie would ruin his star, Rita Hayworth, and held the release of the picture back for one year . Cohn ordered director Orson Welles to insert "glamour" close-ups of Hayworth . Very good performance by support cast such as Everett Sloane as a repulsive advocate in law , and Glenn Anders as his scheming partner . Evocative and atmospheric cinematography in black and White by Charles Lawton Jr , including usual lights and shades from Noir Cinema .

Lady from Shanghai was well directed by Orson Welles , a genius who had a large and problematic career ; though Orson Welles' original rough cut of this picture ran 155 minutes, numerous cuts made by Columbia Pictures executives included a shortening of the famous "funhouse" final ; in fact these scenes were supposed to be unscored, to create the sense of terror. In 1938 he produced "The Mercury Theatre on the Air", famous for its broadcast version of "The War of the Worlds" . His first film to be seen by the public was Ciudadano Kane (1941), a commercial failure , but regarded by many as the best film ever made , along with his following movie , The magnificent Ambersons . He subsequently directed Shakespeare adaptation such as Macbeth , Othelo and Chimes at Midnight or Falstaff . Many of his next films were commercial flops and he exiled himself to Europe in 1948. In 1956 he directed Touch of evil (1958); it failed in the U.S. but won a prize at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. In 1975, in spite of all his box-office flops , he received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1984 the Directors Guild of America awarded him its highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award. His reputation as a film maker has climbed steadily ever since.
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Welles' jazz eye of seduction
chaos-rampant6 December 2008
I'm in awe of Welles and all he achieved. Look, Welles at the time was already on his way out of Hollywood, and this was far from his ideal film, not a pet project. And yet you wouldn't know it from the end result which just oozes creativity. Here is genius, being able to throw yourself in the circumstances, and creative joy, working for the work itself.

But for all intents and purposes, this is simply not the film Welles conceived of and shot—that has to be one of the great lost films. Once more, the studio botched the thing, the third time for Welles at this point. It's not just that an hour is missing, but that extensive reshooting and editing has fundamentally altered the original piece. Miraculously it still works, because every studio imposed decision goes to cement the thriller, and so long as you have the girl and gun a thriller generally works.

But in feel and tone, this is a much more ordinary noir than Welles intended. And yet it's still a masterpiece.

The film is in the manner of a jazz improvisation between narrators for room in the music, and each change of narrator subtly transforms the music, and the new music mysteriously repositions the walls and and even who the viewers are. This is likely what many viewers identify as surrealism, though I find it deeper than anything conceived by that group.

First is Welles' himself - narrating when we first see him, the story as already in the past and being recalled. At some point, there's even talk of a book he's planning to write. In his story he is fascinating and desired—a fanciful storyteller trying to pass himself as a schmuck, in both senses. Of course he meets a dreamy blonde out of thin air. Of course he valiantly rescues her from crooks. The husband is anxious to hire him and not any other in a roomful of stooges.

Inbetween, we get interjections: her song and dreamy swimming, tropical animals slithering all around, all intrusions in his story of seducing the woman. All the while, you'll quite literally see the chorus change, from the roomful of sailors and later the Acapulco band in Welles' story-space, to the gossipy crowds at the docks, aquarium and court-room, to the mysterious faces in the Chinese opera.

During the Acapulco picnic, Welles silences the villains with the shark story and coolly walks away, still in control. Even the killing of the Franco spy as backstory smacks of a narrator's conceit, allowing him to portray himself as both noble and dangerous. Can you imagine the character as played by Welles having killed anyone? I could buy Bogie, Mitchum, even Gable. Not Welles, any more than Astaire. The spaces in his sailor-world? Open, seductive seas, evocative tropics.

Banning, the lawyer husband, takes over, initially through his stooge Grisby. His main centerpiece is the trial, his natural space. Here the dynamics shift to a cheaper mockery and satire—the meaningless legalistic objections, the gossipy spectators, the self- interrogation, the judge's whimsically oversized chess game, the slapstick hullabaloo of O'Hara's escape by mingling in a jury. The spaces are confined and stagy. The air stringent.

And then we wander off to her world, one of veiled Chinese intrigue and lying mirrors, both calling attention to staged image. Previously, the aquarium: dark, submerged, hushed. Once in the Chinese opera, our narrator is fully under her spell: the sleeping pills. And of course the mirrors, where discovering her deception is rendered as his stumbling through staging gear, odd architecture. Imagine! This scene was to run for 20 minutes in the original.

So wonderful overall. Welles takes the erotic thriller and turns it into layered drift through inner worlds. As characters enter his story, originally a story where he'd seduce a beautiful woman, they acquire life, dictate new spaces, change the watching chorus, creating their own currents in the story that fool with the seduction. Just beautiful.

And yet I find myself coming back to that alluring and lost original.

Welles' main intention was simple, challenge both the cinematic language and our eyes— in two ways, first a capricious self- awareness of the dark elements of noir in the sailor losing control of his story. This is preserved throughout the movie, easy to spot, its function being that Welles is fooling with what we're accustomed to take serious. The Maltese Falcon was based on this stance.

But the real loss for me is the second challenge Welles imposed, the authentic world and camera. Supposedly, the original was done in long, distanced sweeps of camera, which is completely unlike the film we have. Studio reshoots and patchy editing ruined the effect, completely altering the fabric, leaving us with some of the location work but a different feel. Oddly enough, the patchy and hyper-edited tone is not unlike Welles, though it does not show his mastery.

But I was happy that I could spot one occasion that was left intact, a simple shot from which we can somewhat reconstruct the intention: it's when Grisby approaches the yacht for the first time, Welles is at the bulwark looking out, he is standing in soft focus and very close to the camera and moves out to meet Grisby. It's all in that movement from soft focus, the creation of lived space. Epstein had been doing it before, others. But, a studio film with the visibility of Welles and Hayworth behind it would have changed cinema as much as Kane did. It'd be a different world.

Alas, we can only imagine. Amusingly, Welles' violent fistfight in the judge's rooms, another remaining instance of Welles' original plan of real impact in the eye, was kept in the film, because it's a fistfight and there the immediacy was apparently desired by the studio, still is if you look at Hollywood blockbusters..

Noir Meter: 4/4
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Brilliant jumble of a film
jem13226 April 2006
This could be well have been THE definitive film noir of all time, had not the Columbia Studios cut so much of Orson Welles's original. What we are left with is a flawed, yet brilliant film that showcases the overwhelming talent of Welles as an actor/director and Rita Hayworth as a serious dramatic talent.

'The Lady From Shanghai' is film noir at it's most sizzling and confusing. Welles, with an uneven accent, portrays Michael O'Hara, a journeyman Irishman, who, after a fateful encounter with the seductive, dangerous Elsa Bannister (Hayworth, in a GREAT performance)finds himself virtually coerced into accepting a job as a crewman on her and her crippled husband's (Everett Sloane) yacht. Elsa, or 'Rosalie' as Michael likes to call her, plays the innocent, helpless doll very well, ensnaring O'Hara in her web. As the lovers conduct a not-so-secret affair at sea, Arthur Bannister's partner in his law firm, George Grisby (Glenn Anders)comes aboard. He is a weird, untrustworthy figure who offers Michael a unique proposal: He will get $5000 to assist Grisby in the faking of Grisby's death, so it looks murder. The plan is for Michael to get off a technicality, and run off into the sun with Elsa. But things do not go to plan.

Hayworth delivers us one of the best femme fatales of all time in a very ambiguous portrayal. At times she seems genuinely vulnerable and child-like, at others brutal, world-weary and hard. Always she is brilliantly beautiful, whether he situation calls for her to be dripping wet in a swimsuit or dressed in black, brandishing a gun. Hayworth is beautifully photographed here, and she is a far-cry from her famous 'Gilda' role. Her then-husband Orson Welles cut off her trademark auburn locks for a dyed blonde crop (angering Columbia boss Harry Cohn). It was a terrific marketing ploy, and he change suits her changed attitude wonderfully. She is not the sympathetic femme fatale that 'Gilda' is, here- instead she is a predatory, black-hearted dame who sees murder as a very useful option.

The Welles and Hayworth pairing came at a time when the couple were having extreme difficulties in their marriage. They would divorce after the film was made, so this is also a curiosity for providing some view into the complicated relationship. They are hateful, not romantic, lovers in this, so it's hard to gauge whether or not they had real chemistry on screen. Certainly every encounter is potent and filled with raw sexuality, with Welles as the 'fall guy' (he even admits it himself in the film!) and Rita as the double-crossing babe.

Welles character is the typical noir 'drifter' with not much sense. As Welles voice-over proves to use, O'Hara indeed does not use his brain very much 'expect to be thinking of her (Elsa)'. Welles usually played intelligent, charismatic fellows, so his turn here as the dim-witted Michael is unusual and very interesting. Indeed, Welles was an actor of fine talent and he pulls off it well.

Everett Sloane is suitably slimy as Hayworth's crippled husband. One wonders why he hires Michael. It is obvious that his wife is interested in him romantically, so why does he invite a 'threat' on board? One interpretation could be that Michael provides the 'service' to his wife that Bannister cannot in his crippled state. There is definitely something to that theory, with a lot of implications toward Elsa's behaviour before she met her husband (was she some sort of prostitute?)and Grisby's knowledge of Bannister's most intimate secrets being hinted at in several scenes.

This is a jumbled, convoluted film with a plot that is ultimately flawed. We are more interested in the love triangle than the murder plot, as with most noirs. Welles provides us with many of his usual brilliant cinematic touches, including the justifiably famous 'hall of mirrors' climax. It's a terrific scene, one ending that can almost obliterate the faults earlier on in the movie and lift it into greatness. This fun house scene is visually stunning, with a Dali-like feel to the painted sets (apparently Orson painted them himself). Subtle visual imagery utilized throughout the film by Welles enhances the plot and makes this a thought-provoking experience.

The dialogue is scorching and confusing, delivered superbly by Rita's alternately breathy low voice and helpless, high-pitched little-girl voice. Hayworth proves her acting capabilities in this one, and proves that SHE is the ultimate femme fatale of 'noir'. It's a pity (only a slight one , as Rita was a brilliant dancer) that she did so many delightful yet frothy and often forgettable musicals for Columbia in the 40's instead of darkly-themed noir like this. She was a brilliant actress when given the chance to show off her talent.

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The World According to Welles
ags1235 June 2016
Despite watching this movie several dozen times, I still don't quite understand the plot. Nevertheless, it doesn't take away from the many pleasures of this unusual film. It may be disjointed, but it's never dull. For me, it's a visual feast. The camera-work alone, much like "Citizen Kane," is vastly innovative. How fascinating to watch the aquarium scene with its magnified fish overpowering the conversation. Rita Hayworth looks beautiful - lovingly photographed, often in closeup, with her then-controversial short blonde haircut. I chuckle when she's chasing after Orson Welles in Chinatown and suddenly starts speaking Chinese with the locals! Or entering a room in silhouette, like a spider woman, after Broome is shot. The justly-famous ending in the Hall of Mirrors remains one of the most vivid sequences in film history. Credit goes to Welles for once again pushing the envelope and coming up with something unique and daring.
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A Stylish Classic From Orson Welles
atlasmb5 June 2016
"The Lady from Shanghai" is a hybrid--a combination of the artistic vision of director Orson Welles and the more pragmatic vision of the studio, which altered almost every portion of the film. It is also an unlikely success, but sometimes films come together despite their mishaps and disparate elements--"The Wizard of Oz" comes to mind.

Reading the trivia notes in IMDb about the film, one would have to say that the odds were against TLFS being a consistent and successful entity, but somehow it became a wonderful piece of art noir.

Starring Rita Hayworth as Elsa Bannister, the beautiful wife of a very successful but bitter attorney played by Everett Sloane, the story is told by central character Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles), a tough but vulnerable seaman with a fatalistic point of view. He immediately falls for Mrs. Bannister and is drawn into the web of their dysfunctional relationship. Glenn Anders plays George Grisby, Bannister's partner, with a brilliantly off-kilter and manic intensity.

The cinematography is beautiful, giving the brightest objects the darkest shadows. The scenery is spectacular--from the shots over the city of San Francisco to the glittering scenes of Acapulco.

Though the storyline is convoluted, it holds up. The film is really a mystery about the true nature of Elsa, but it hinges on a point of law (like "Double Indemnity") that is questionable, but irrelevant in the biggest scheme of things.

Welles' decision to cut and color the luscious locks of his estranged wife Hayworth was severely criticized at the time, but for my money it gives her a look that is more severe, more dangerous, more inscrutable--but just as beautiful--adding to her mystery.

The courtroom scene (with its comic elements) is also often criticized, but the viewer is not supposed to laugh. It adds to the farcical nature of the film. O'Hara always feels like the gods are laughing at him, so it is appropriate that the procedure that will determine his fate feels less than serious.

The film ends with the famous hall of mirrors scene, where all is explained. And the viewer is left with the impression that he navigated a crazy house of illusions and--like O'Hara--became victim to his own nature. It is a stylistic classic that retains at its core the markings of a genius.
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