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Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai

4.5 4
Director: Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane, Ted de Corsia

Cast: Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane, Ted de Corsia


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The Lady From Shanghai, a complex, involving puzzle-within-a-puzzle mystery story, is a showcase for Orson Welles, showing his singular talents and sensibilities as few other films have. The story is superficially simple: a seaman Michael O'Hara (Welles) is hired as a crew member on the yacht of the wealthy Banister (Everett Sloane). His beautiful but


The Lady From Shanghai, a complex, involving puzzle-within-a-puzzle mystery story, is a showcase for Orson Welles, showing his singular talents and sensibilities as few other films have. The story is superficially simple: a seaman Michael O'Hara (Welles) is hired as a crew member on the yacht of the wealthy Banister (Everett Sloane). His beautiful but mysterious wife Elsa (Rita Hayworth) has met O'Hara earlier, when he saved her from a mugging. What ensues is a complicated and bizarre pattern of deception, fraud and murder, with O'Hara finding himself implicated in a murder, despite his innocence. The film is best remembered for its final sequence when the plot comes to a literally smashing climax in the famous "hall of mirrors" sequence, with Elsa and Banister shooting it out amidst shards of shattering glass. Orson Welles, who produced, directed, wrote and starred in the film, is sometimes self-indulgent in his use of visual tricks and techniques, which at times sacrifice plot for visual brilliance, but he pulls it together in the end to produce a stunning, difficult film. Rita Hayworth gives one of her best performances as the deceptive, seductive temptress, hard-edged and cynical. The film confounds, unsettles and disorients the viewer, very much as Welles intended to do. While not an easy film, it is well worth the attention required to follow it, and Welles offers no easy solutions or any false happy endings to his tour-de-force mystery.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
Disorienting and dislocating, 1948's kaleidoscopic noir masterpiece The Lady from Shanghai marked another artistic triumph and commercial failure for master filmmaker Orson Welles. It also chronicled the disintegration of his short-lived marriage to screen siren Rita Hayworth -- playing at times like an abstract commentary on their turbulent private life. Against his better judgment, the surprisingly sophisticated sailor Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) takes a job on the luxury yacht of alluring Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth), landing himself in the middle of murder. The Lady from Shanghai has an all-but-nonsensical plot and a distant, nightmarish quality, generated partly by the tension between the meticulously photographed images shot on location and a soundtrack Welles obviously reconstructed in the studio. Ultimately, it's difficult to know whether to believe anything that happens: Perhaps it was all just a nightmare; some perverse fantasy of masculine paranoia climaxing in the oft-imitated hall of mirrors sequence. However one reads the film, it stands today as one of a privileged handful of Welles' finest efforts.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
This story about murder and betrayal becomes murky long before its conclusion, but Orson Welles's quintessential film noir is about moral chaos, and Welles's stunning visuals speak for themselves. Shot in sharp black-and white, the story of innocent narrator Michael O'Hara's twisted journey into the netherworld is told through deep shadows, skewed compositions, and unsettling close-ups. Enchancing the surreally ominous atmosphere is the choice of settings, such as the San Francisco Aquarium love scene, in which the convoluted tale reaches its appropriate climax in an abandoned fun house that embodies O'Hara's nightmarish confusion. Finding the perfect image for shattered relationships and fractured personalities, Welles's famous final shootout takes place in the fun house's hall of mirrors, as O'Hara learns the truth in a place that trades on deception. Judging the narrative too Byzantine for his taste, Columbia chief Harry Cohn demanded that Lady from Shanghai be reedited, redubbed, and rescored before it was released. It still failed at the box office, rendering Welles a Hollywood outcast for almost a decade.

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rita Hayworth Elsa "Rosalie" Bannister
Orson Welles Michael O'Hara
Everett Sloane Arthur Bannister
Ted de Corsia Sidney Broome
Glenn Anders George Grisby
Gus Schilling Goldie
Erskine Sanford Judge
Carl Frank District Attorney
Lou Merrill Jake
Evelyn Ellis Bessie
Harry Shannon Cab Driver
Sam Nelson Yacht Captain
Eddie Coke Policeman
Robert Gray Actor
Joe Palma Cab Driver
Richard Wilson District Attorney's Assistant
Billy Louie Chinese Girl
George "Shorty" Chirello Actor
Vernon Cansino People
Artarne Wong Ticket Taker
Wong Show Chong Li
Tiny Jones Woman
Edythe Elliott Old Lady
Peter Cusanelli Bartender
Joseph Granby Police Lieutenant
Al Eben Policeman
Norman Thomson Policeman
Edward Peil Guard
Harry Strang Policeman
Gerald Pierce Waiter
Maynard Holmes Truck Driver
Jack Baxley Guard
Dorothy Vaughan Old Woman
Steve Benton Policeman
Milt Kibbee Policeman
Philip Van Zandt Policeman
William Alland Reporter
Alvin Hammer Reporter
Mary Newton Reporter
Byron Kane Reporter
Charles Meakin Jury Foreman
Jessie Arnold Schoolteacher
Mabel Smaney People
Joe Recht Garage Attendant
Jean Wong Ticket Seller
Grace Lem Chinese Woman
Philip Morris Port Steward
John Elliott Clerk

Technical Credits
Orson Welles Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Lawrence W. Butler Special Effects
Clay Campbell Makeup
Sturges Carne Art Director
William Castle Associate Producer
Harry Cohn Producer
Lodge Cunningham Sound/Sound Designer
Stephen Goosson Art Director
Viola Lawrence Editor
Charles Lawton Cinematographer
Jean Louis Costumes/Costume Designer
Wilbur Menefee Set Decoration/Design
Sam Nelson Asst. Director
Heinz Roemheld Score Composer
Robert J. Schiffer Makeup
Herman Schoenbrun Set Decoration/Design
Morris W. Stoloff Musical Direction/Supervision
Richard Wilson Associate Producer


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4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
2_Many_Movies More than 1 year ago
Blu-ray quality is superb, with DTS stereo. I have the previous DVD version and it does not measure up to this. But I'll be keeping the DVd for its extras, the new Blu-ray has NONE. The only problem I found with quality is audio, DTS is so full range that I have to keep volume too low to hear the dialog because when the music and sound effects kick in, it becomes too loud! The "film noir" thriller was produced and directed by Orson Welles, screenplay by him also. I'm a big fan of Welles and wish he could have done more. Interesting city scenes in San Francisco, beaches of  Mexico, courtroom,  and a deserted amusement park where the well known and dramatic climax hall of mirrors scene is filmed. Welles worked all night making that part of the picture artistic. All in all I highly recommended this edition. I just wished the film commentary and interview with Peter Bogdanovich could have been preserved.
MonsLido More than 1 year ago
Great, as only Welles can do it. Much of what passes for 'cool' in genre films today was defined by Welles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is magic - Orson Wells and Rita Hayworth are brilliant, but so are the supporting cast. I absolutely could not take my eyes off the screen. I would have loved to have seen this on the big screen. A must see for film noir fans.