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The Lady From Shanghai 1948

NR CC

Rita Hayworth is the ultimate femme fatale who lures Irish seaman Orson Welles into a tangled web of lies, deceit and murder. A one-of-a-kind film noir thriller, written & directed by Welles.

Starring:
Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles
Runtime:
1 hour, 27 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Director Orson Welles
Starring Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles
Supporting actors Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia, Erskine Sanford, Gus Schilling, Carl Frank, Louis Merrill, Evelyn Ellis, Harry Shannon, William Alland, Jessie Arnold, Wong Artarne, Jack Baxley, Steve Benton, Vernon Cansino, Doris Chan, George Chirello, Wong Chung
Studio Columbia Pictures
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer 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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3 Comments 104 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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5 Comments 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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4 Comments 79 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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