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The Lady from Shanghai
The Lady from Shanghai
Actors: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia
Director: Orson Welles
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2000     1hr 27min

A man falsely accused of murdering two others escapes from jail to find the real murderer. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: UN Release Date: 3-OCT-2000 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia
Director: Orson Welles
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 10/03/2000
Original Release Date: 06/09/1948
Theatrical Release Date: 06/09/1948
Release Year: 2000
Run Time: 1hr 27min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Georgian, Chinese, Thai

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Movie Reviews

"Innocent is a big word--Stupid is more like it"
Coram | 11/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Stupidity--not innocence, not heroism, not any virtue at all--is the major theme of *The Lady from Shanghai*. Therefore, to some viewers this film will appear to be a stupid movie. That's unfortunate, but that's Orson Welles.Everybody--EVERYBODY--is stupid in *Lady*! The Welles character, Michael O'Hara, admits he is stupid right off the bat. Elsa, played by Rita Hayworth, seems to be the cleverest of them all until the end...when she and her husband Arthur Bannister die together in the Crazy House, her husband gasping at her, "For a clever girl you make a lot of mistakes." Arthur, "the world's greatest lawyer", obviously has brains and knows what's going on through the whole story, but he's so grotesque (practically crawling through his scenes like a daddy longlegs spider) that his intellect is self-defeating: he's just one of the sharks that Welles describes in the beach scene, ravenously devouring himself. And the Grisby character...take one look at this guy and it's hard to believe *Lady* was made in 1946. Grisby's right out of David Lynch, or more like it, David Cronenberg! The judge, the folks in the courtroom...all STUPID and distorted, just like the images in the funhouse mirrors! Portraying American people in that unflattering light was just not "on" in the early postwar period. No wonder Orson Welles was being watched by the FBI during those years. Even today, many filmgoers expect movies to give them at least one or two heroic characters that they can identify with. Sorry, friends, *Lady* jumps right into your face and right into your space (like the scene with O'Hara and Grisby overlooking the ocean) and blurts drunkenly, "Yer STOO-pid too, FELLAH!" But why on earth is Orson Welles telling us we're all stupid? That's made very clear. We are blissfully living out our grubby little lives on the brink of self-destruction. "Do you believe the world is gonna end?" asks Grisby of O'Hara in that ocean overlook scene. That's the question Welles tells us we should be asking ourselves. But just as O'Hara was too stupid to ask himself a few simple questions, like "how can Grisby collect the insurance money if he's declared legally dead?", we don't ask ourselves the important questions that overshadow our silly little existences.A lot of people won't like it. They sure didn't when *Lady* was released in '48.But I love it! *Lady* was "postmodern" before postmodern was cool (before anybody knew what postmodern was)! It is deliciously self-referential: the scene in the Shanghai Low Chinese theater, with the strange Oriental play being performed onstage, instantly reminds one of all the strange characters and goings-on in the "real" story, the movie itself. But the movie itself is not real either, of course--it too is a play that reflects the bizarre world of human events, OUR world, the world of the moviegoer who seeks meaning in film and theater. House of mirrors! Movies of the '40's were just NOT self-referential, they really tried to create an alternative world that the audience could escape from its troubles into. Almost all movies then, and still most today, do not hold up a mirror to the audience. But *Lady* does. And still today many people aren't going to like what they see. "It's a bright guilty world," sayeth Welles/O'Hara.The close-ups of Rita Hayworth singing "Please Don't Kiss Me" establish her as THE most beautiful woman to have ever graced the silver screen. Sorry Marilyn, Lana, Bette, and you too Nicole. "Rita Hayworth gave good face" indeed. I'd have paid the price of the whole DVD just to have those few seconds of film. But there's so much more in *Lady* that's worth watching than the lady. Peter Bogdanovich's interview and commentary is pretty good, though as a Welles/Hayworth fan there was a good deal of stuff I already knew. But some stuff I didn't know, so I appreciated Peter's contribution.*The Lady From Shanghai* and *Gilda*...movies just don't get any better!"
Misunderstood Masterpiece
juleswelles | London, England | 02/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The most tragic aspect of Orson Welles' career is the accepted wisdom that he only made three good films. In fact he made 13 films in a 40 year career (a tragically small number in itself) and ten of them were arguably masterpieces. That's a track record that bears comparison with anyone. The Lady from Shanghai is a classic example of a misunderstood Welles masterpiece. The studio didn't understand the plot and the film got buried; in addition it was put forward that Welles intended revenge on his ex-wife Rita Hayworth by casting her as the bad girl (in fact Welles only interest was in making a great film and Hayworth's astonishing performance merely consecrates his success).Welles fully understood the attractions, both of film noir themes (jealousy, greed, paranoia) and the mandatory visuals that go with the genre. The great cinematographer Stanley Cortez once said of Welles that he understood lighting better than anyone in the Cinema. Many scenes stand out as examples of Welles' brilliant visual invention - the lovers meeting at the aquarium and the final "hall of mirrors" shootout are just two outstanding set pieces amongst a miasma of unsettling camera angles, close-ups and deep, overbearing shadows. Welles' unique talent was in reinventing himself with every film, so whilst there are familiar Wellesian hallmarks in Shanghai (overlapping dialogue, deep focus etc) it is still a work of stunning visual originality, albeit shot in 16mm.What the french call "mise en scene" (literally "composition") was everything to Welles, so the plot (an innocent man is drawn into a web of intrigue by a woman) was less important, save to the extent that it enabled Welles to delve into the emotional dynamics of the characters. For example, the fracturing relationship between Welles' (the actor) and Hayworth's characters is dealt with in an uncommonly sophisticated manner for what is essentially a femme-fatale/innocent-chump storyline.So buy this and marvel at the work of Cinema's only natural (and greatest ever) inventor. And while you're at it, see The Trial, Othello, Chimes at Midnight, F for Fake, Macbeth and The Stranger as well."
The Chimera from Shanghai
Olga Shewfelt | Los Angeles, CA, USA | 06/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The more one reviews the Welles' oeuvre, the more painful it becomes to watch his eternal attempts to disguise himself. This may seem a rather obvious observation, given the intrinsically autobiographical nature of Welles' art, but the boy genius was always cognizant of this confessional, which makes it all the more difficult and compelling. It seems that, for every film made after "Citizen Kane", the urge to dissemble becomes more pronounced, more helpless in its transparency and failure. From a desperate Irish accent in "The Lady from Shanghai" to the patently false beard of "Mr. Arkadin" all the way to the volumes of onerous padding that bloat his Captain Quinlan in "Touch of Evil", Welles has created the ultimate gallery of character refractions in cinema. The character of Michael O'Hara in "Shanghai", however, holds a special uniqueness in its reliance on and combination of youth, attractiveness, vigor, restlessness, sexual yearning, and finally, shrugging resignation and pessimism. This was 1948, Welles was 33 years-old, five years wed to the stunning Rita Hayworth, two and one-half years estranged from her, still pseudo-blacklisted after "Kane", just returning from a much-publicized theater flop ("Around the World"), and like always, ready and confident in his ability to deliver something that no one had ever seen before.

Welles was able to accomplish this ambition with relative frequency because of his complete fascination with film and complete understanding of it as a transformative medium. There are moments of rapture and "pure cinema" in "The Lady from Shanghai" to rival "Kane". Where else can something as ineffably sensual as the camera's flight over Hayworth's unrequited cigarette ballad on Bannister's yacht, or as ephemeral as the procession of barcos and torches to the bass thump of "Baia" in Acapulco be found on celluloid? Welles always bemoaned the brevity of the film post-studio cutting, but in truth, these moments possess just the perfect duration, and this essentially being a film about love interrupted, thwarted, and finally imploding, I suspect that Welles' pacing of most of the scenes in the movie was not entirely different.

Interruption and all its cosmic ramifications seem to be a primal force and theme in "The Lady from Shanghai". Many of the most indelible moments erupt or are born out of seemingly nowhere. The wordless scene in which a gloriously clad Hayworth sprints desperately through the deteriorating arches of an Acapulco street against the strains of a Mexican band lasts nearly half-a-minute and emanates almost inexplicably from the narrative. A man coughs ceaselessly in a courtroom, oversized marine life intrude on the central love scene, and finally, in the most conspicuous eruption, the three central characters are arbitrarily led into a hall of mirrors, where they proceed to blow the entire place apart. In short, whether the interruption is obstructive or cathartic, it throws the equilibrium off balance, and that may be why this film is so emotionally turbulent, why the playing of Welles and Hayworth at times resembles the rupturing of two adjacent membranes against one another, unable to touch without bruising themselves. The accepted interpretation of the film as a comment on the two's marriage, as a confession of the boy genius' inability to mantain a relationship with a mature, robust woman should therefore not imply that the experience of making or watching such a film is a fluid or healing one. Not even the fluidity of the film making, blithely inconsiderate of conventional and "coherent" narrative form, should suggest that. Both the allure and difficulty of the Welles canon is its destructive tumultuous self-romance and destructiveness, and "Lady from Shanghai" is no exception."
"Black Irish and a Blonde Bombshell"
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 03/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"What was once considered Orson Welles' most notorious failure is now regarded as a classic by movie buffs. THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, the story of a man driven to obsession and murder by a beautiful blonde temptress, is filled with striking imagery and amazing performances. Based on a novel by Sherwood King, the story focuses on world-weary crewman Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) who literally stumbles across the path of beautiful Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth), and almost on the spot he's invited to join the crew of her yacht, about to set sail on an international cruise, that soon dissolves into murder and mayhem. The plot plays like classic film noir, with many twists and turns. The film is highlighted by the famous `Hall of Mirrors' finale where Welles demonstrates the whole idea of the unknown enemy.

Rita Haywoth is sensational in one of her best roles. It is a very famous story that she was personally recommended for the picture by her then-husband Orson Welles, but studio heads regarded the project as a B-picture and thus not worthy of one of their biggest box office stars. Welles hacked off Hayworth's trademark red tresses and bleached it platinum blonde, in an effort to emphasize the fact that this was indeed a different movie, but it was also a different Hayworth, one the audience had never seen before. THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI was a bitter disappointment for writer/director/star Orson Welles, who felt he was sabotaged by a studio who did not trust his vision. The film was significantly edited by Columbia shortly after it's completion but was kept on the shelf for several months before it was finally released, to mostly scathing reviews.

The DVD contains audio commentary from well-known Welles fan and director Peter Bogdanovich, a featurette with Bogdanovich, the original trailer and vintage advertising gallery."