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The Lady from Shanghai (1948)

Rita Hayworth , Orson Welles , Orson Welles  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Video / Mill Creek
  • DVD Release Date: October 3, 2000
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004W229
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,404 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lady from Shanghai" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Vintage advertising

Editorial Reviews

Baffling murders, fascinating plot twists and remarkable camera work all contribute to this spellbinding, time-honored film noir written, directed by and starring Orson Welles. Hired to work on a yacht belonging to the disabled husband of femme fatale Rita Hayworth, Welles plays an innocent man drawn into a dangerous web of intrigue and murder. The subject of great controversy and scandal upon its initial release, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI shocked 1948 audiences by presenting Hayworth with her flaming red hair cut short and dyed champagne blonde. Fifty years later, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI is considered vintage Welles, his famous hall of mirrors climax hailed as one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood Masterpiece February 4, 2002
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.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Innocent is a big word--Stupid is more like it" November 9, 2003
By Coram
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.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Black Irish and a Blonde Bombshell" March 15, 2006
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 Hayworth 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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blond Rita More Fiery Than a Red?
Rita Hayworth is striking and a true star in this thriller mystery. Who could not get lost in this world of tropical cruises, foggy San Francisco. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
just great
Published 1 month ago by sue lieber
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep
Pay attention. There are enough twists and turns in this move to make you want to, immediately, see it again to make sure you got it right. NOIR PHOTOGRAPHY AT IT'S BEST. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Dave
4.0 out of 5 stars a blond Rita Hayworth
Full and fair disclosure: I am an Orson Wells fan and recently purchased five of his films. I also love classic American cinema. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Charles from Redondo Beach
3.0 out of 5 stars Good film
Watched it for a class, and I thought it was fun. Welles' Irish accent was a little distracting, but overall, I enjoyed it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by ASP
5.0 out of 5 stars I Invented the Word Genius and Defined It. My Name Is Orson Welles.
Viewed: 3/14
Rate: 10

3/14: Orson Welles is one of the greatest directors ever lived. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Austin Somlo
1.0 out of 5 stars Non-US region code; seller would not accept return
Bought this film for my father as a gift and when he tried to watch it several months later it wouldn't play on his DVD player due to having a non-US region code. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Elisabeth A Derby
4.0 out of 5 stars Some things To Consider
Assuming you're here to hear about the Blu Ray/DVD combo released by the TCM Vault Collection, I'll keep a review of the actual film brief. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ethan Gorham
3.0 out of 5 stars The Lady From Shanghai
You either consider Orson Wells as a genius or ... not so much. I forgot I didn't like his work, though I hear lot's of boos. Read more
Published 6 months ago by nadra jean fischer
1.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing exclusive at twice the price here.
One of my favorite Welles films. which I've watched countless times on the original DVD issue, now out of print. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Biblio-Nut
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