Newest Reviews
Twice Dead
Cop Car
Pitch Perfect 2
Mia Madre
Libeled Lady
Wolfpack, The
Light Sleeper
Saturday Island
It Happened Tomorrow
Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir
Comancheros, The
Marseille Contract, The
Newest Articles
Page to Scream: Ghost Story and Adapting the Books of the Horror Boom
So Long, Soledad: Vampyros Lesbos and She Killed in Ecstasy
Shakin' with Laughter or Stirred into Action: Silly Bond vs Serious Bond
Green Screen: Ecological Horror of the 1970s
What in the Weird? Arthur C. Clarke’s World of Strange Powers
  Lady from Shanghai, The Disorder In The CourtBuy this film here.
Year: 1947
Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia, Erskine Sanford, Gus Schilling, Carl Frank, Louis Merrill, Evelyn Ellis, Harry Shannon
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) had lived a colourful life up until the point he met Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth), having fought the fascists in the Spanish Civil War and ended up in more jails around the world than most. Tonight in New York City he attempted to introduce himself to Elsa as she rode in a horse-drawn cab in Central Park, although when she revealed she had a husband he was less interested. However, shortly after a group of men dragged her into the bushes to rape her and Michael leapt to her defence, beating them up and saving her - or was he being drawn into a web of intrigue?

Orson Welles' cult film noir had, as with most of the films with him at the helm, much in the manner of production troubles and was initially conjured up practically on the spot when he needed money for his Mercury Theater. In a deal with Columbia studios boss Harry Cohn he would craft a vehicle for his then-wife Rita Hayworth, but Welles had pretentions that Cohn did not take kindly to and, perhaps inevitably, the film was taken out of its creator's hands and extensively re-edited. Yet again Welles was stung by the movie business, and what was left took some time to catch on.

But catch on it did, and is now considered one of Welles' most intriguing pictures, if only for what can be read into the central relationship between Mike and Elsa and how it may or may not parallel the real life marriage of Welles and Hayworth. That marriage was over by the time the film was belatedly released to little interest, and some would have it that this was because of Hayworth's radical change of image, that is, a short blonde hairdo instead of the flowing auburn locks she had become famous for. But really, she was still a beautiful woman - were audiences actually that fickle?

It could be the real reason the film did not take off in popularity was that there's a curious absence of romantic spark, of true passion, between the two stars. Sure, Hayworth is playing an ice cool character, but she gives the impression of being ice right down to her heart as well. Then there's the world weary Mike, essayed by Welles with a thick "Oirish" brogue: when you hear his opening narration you think, is he going to put on that phoney accent throughout the film? And that's precisely what he does, harming credibility somewhat.

Accompany that with a plotline that doesn't make much sense on close examination, where motives seem arbritrary at best, and The Lady from Shanghai should be a disaster. And yet, it weaves a cynical allure, beautifully photographed, and with a neat line in off kilter humour. Mike is lured onto the yacht of Elsa and her rich lawyer husband Arthur (Everett Sloane) to work for them, but is he being set up? Is Elsa leading him on? And what of Bannister's partner in law, Grisby (Glenn Anders), what does he have up his sleeve? This may be a muddle, but sequences stand out as hailing from a director at the top of his game, such as the courtroom scenes which wouldn't give anyone faith in the justice system, or the climactic shoot-out in the hall of mirrors. So not a curate's egg exactly, as the film is consistently enjoyable, but once more it leaves you wondering what the original, untampered version of Welles' vision might have been like. Music by Heinz Roemheld.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2012 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme music?
Superman: The Movie
The Dark Knight
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three ('74)
Star Wars
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Great Escape
The Ipcress File
The Magnificent Seven
Back to the Future

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Graeme Clark
Dan Schneider
Aaron Shaw
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Ahmed Hasanen
Keith Rockmael


Last Updated: