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The Lady from Shanghai

134 customer reviews

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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.

Special Features

  • Vintage advertising

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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004W229
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,280 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lady from Shanghai" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 94 people found the following review helpful By "juleswelles" on February 4, 2002
Format: DVD
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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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Gorham on February 23, 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
(Original February 23, 2014 review) 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.

I don't love The Lady From Shanghai. I don't hate it either. It is more or less a movie I admire for its direction and visual style than for its ability to connect with an audience. Considering how hard it is for one to relate to an idiot in a movie and how non-idiotic many of us have known Orson Welles to have been, it is very hard to follow his idiotic Irish rogue as he makes blatant mistake after blatant mistake and somehow never comes to the realization that he's getting used by pretty much everyone he comes across, despite obvious manipulations on the parts of the antagonists. With that in mind, though, The Lady From Shanghai remains one hell of a treat for the eyes, featuring some of the most iconic Noir cinematography of the entire classic Noir period (1940-1958) and of Cinema as a whole. I'd recommend seeing it to anyone, given how many different people form many different opinions on it, most especially if you are a fan of Orson Welles the director (I for one really love Touch of Evil and The Trial).

That said, onto the Blu Ray release. Well, contrary to the (at the time of this posting) only other review of the film on here, I thought the movie looked absolutely fantastic. It appears to have been given a proper restoration (reportedly from a 4K scan), as Blacks are deep, Whites don't flare, Gray's are diverse and well modulated, Close ups fare well, and it doesn't have that waxy look of too much Digital Noise Reduction (DNR). It's sharp and retains just the right amount of grain for a film of this vintage.
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75 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Coram on November 9, 2003
Format: DVD
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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