The Lady From Shanghai

The Lady From Shanghai

DVD - 2000
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A seaman becomes involved in the murderous intrigue of a crippled lawyer and his homicidal, frustrated wife. Culminates in a shoot-up in a hall of mirrors.
Publisher: [Burbank, CA] : Columbia TriStar Home Video, [2000]
ISBN: 9780767848817
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (87 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in


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plotline Aug 20, 2016

Orson & Harry: The Final Cut
"I'll pay a thousand dollars to anyone who can explain the story to me."- Harry Cohn*,
chief of Columbia Pictures, on THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.
In Frank Brady's fine biography, *CITIZEN WELLES, Cohn was in such awe of Welles' talent and was so desperate to make a movie with him, that he nearly gave him full autonomy: writing, directing, producing, and starring.
More than a year after THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI was in the can waiting for release (Cohn dumped the film as a second feature and that's the main reason it bombed at the box office), Cohn railed against the director for cost overruns, for what Cohn felt was an incoherent mess of a movie, and, perhaps most vehemently, for tampering with Rita Hayworth's image (Welles cut and dyed blond Rita's dark tresses).
It was a tough shoot for Orson: constant delays, script changes, killer Mexican heat, plus one added burden: the breakup of his marriage to the film's female star.
The film itself? With its theme of pervasive corruption threatening a stalwart if highly unaware protagonist, LADY is an uneven prototype for Welles' fully realized noir masterwork, TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Both films share a nightmare quality: there is constant dislocation and disorientation in each. Each film takes on an atmosphere of cramped delirium, magnified by crude allusions and nefarious deeds which slip in and out of the deep physical and psychological shadows. And both films exhibit murder as an almost preordained fate.
Again, LADY's major flaw is a rambling story structure, underscored by poor editing (Cohn and a studio editor pieced the film together!).
But there are great performances in LADY, with Everett Sloan's Arthur Bannister throwing his nasty Kane-like weight around, albeit on crutches, and especially Glenn Anders' sweaty, quietly obscene malefactor, Grisby, a fascinatingly distasteful cretin who sets the skin to crawling.
Orson labored hard in his role. I found his cartoon brogue entertaining. But while the accent may be overdone, wouldn't it be in a nightmare?

Jul 30, 2016

I cannot top the comments below, except that it was such a delight to have a glimpse of Playland at the end, I had to rewind that little part 3 times.

Jul 22, 2016

Orson Welles was really that young once, not overweight, a believable lover to a young, ravishing Susan Hayward .... Good movie. Good movie.

multcolib_susannel Jan 25, 2016

Classic noir and special effects that many filmakers have tried to imitate- but this is is the real thing!

Jan 25, 2016

worth watching wells and Hayworth is beautiful and the story is a mess

Aka_Aka_Aka Feb 05, 2015

Personally, I think that a much more appropriate title for this over-rated film would've been - "Goldilocks & the 3 Bores", with actress Rita Hayworth, of course, being Goldilocks and Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, and Glenn Anders, naturally, being the three (big) bores.

What more can I say? Well - How about?..... If only director Orson Welles hadn't spent so much time meticulously photographing Rita Hayworth's face up close, making sure that it was always picture perfect, making sure that not a single shadow ever fell on it, rendering her face a literal mask instead of an actual human face, then, perhaps, The Lady From Shanghai might've actually survived its stupid screenplay (written by Welles, as well) and become a worthwhile piece of watchable movie-entertainment. Maybe.

If you ask me - The Lady From Shanghai was a major disappointment on all counts. It really bugged me that far too many scenes were shot in front of a back-projection screen instead of taking place at an actual location.

Aug 12, 2014

This very strange Orson Welles film is not quite a masterpiece, but still has plenty of things to recommend it. Several fine set pieces (the courtroom and funhouse scenes being my favorites), a storyline full of bizarre characters, and plenty of twists and turns all make sure you never get bored.

rufus_red4 May 01, 2014

A classic film noir made in the indomitable style that is Orson Welles. This film set the standard with the shadowy lighting, tight close ups and camera angles that he started to experiment with when he made Citizen Kane. A highly entertaining and watchable movie from the golden era of Hollywood.

jpozenel Dec 06, 2013

Because it's a very bizarre story with lots of creepy characters and strange scenes, it certainly isn't a movie that you'll easily forget.

Jun 05, 2013

An unusual and complex film noir, to say the least. Rita was hypnotizing, although the short blonde haircut didn't appeal to me. The actor playing George Grisby was one weird "fella". In fact, I'll go a step further. A creepy fella. Orson's brogue was hideously phony; he should have written out the Irish thing altogether. Loved the crazy house finale, though. Evidently, (according to Peter Bogdanovich), the original feature length was about 2½ hours. The missing hour undoubtedly contributes to the uneven flow of the film. Pity. I still enjoyed it, regardless.

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Jun 05, 2013

George Grisby: "Think the world's coming to an end?" Michael O'Hara: "Well, there was a start to the world sometime. I guess there'll be a stop."


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