THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1948) B/W 87m dir: Orson Welles
w/Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia, Erskine Sanford, Gus Schilling, Carl Frank, Lou Merrill, Evelyn Ellis
This film noir concerns an Irish sailor (Welles) who accompanies a beautiful woman (Hayworth) and her lawyer husband (Sloane) on a cruise and becomes a pawn in murder.
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "'I hadn't read the novel [by Sherwood King] when I agreed to write the script and I never understood it' Orson Welles has said. (A statement that others have denied: Sam Spiegel says Welles read the novel before he talked to the producers.) Remarkable sequences: the visit to Acapulco; the chase through a Chinese theater; the love scene and confession in an aquarium; the macabre climax in the Hall of Mirrors; Orson Welles's final soliloquy, 'Everybody us somebody's fool sometime ... maybe I'll live so long I'll forget her. Maybe I'll die trying.'
"Production began with typical Hollywood ballyhoo. In front of the press at Columbia Studios, Welles supervised the cutting of the long blond [sic] hair of Rita Hayworth, who was then his wife. But the film, strangely accused of obscenity, was a commercial failure (though a critical success) and Welles left Hollywood a little later. He was not forgiven for making his hero a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, nor for his description of Acapulco: 'Oh, there's a fair face to the land, but you can't hide the hunger and guilt,' nor for his final bitter and lucid speech. Nor, above all, for having 'de-mystified the American woman' for having denounced her as a monster, a man-eater, a praying mantis who reveals herself through the worst of passions, greed for money.' (Maurice Bessy)
"'The Lady from Shanghai is a morality play without preachment; it can be taken as a bizarre adventure yarn, a bravura thriller, a profound drama of decay, or all three. ... Behind the magical showmanship, is the voice of a poet decrying the sin and corruption of a confused world' (Peter Bogdanovich)."
From The Movie Guide: "Replete with humorous self-deprecating narration, marvelous performances, and typically Wellesian visuals, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI dazzles as much as it obfuscates. The most amazing visual effect is the climactic Crazy House/Hall of Mirrors location, which is a wonder of surrealistic set design. With its complex and occasionally incoherent narrative, the film will stump many of those viewers who think they can easily decipher a mystery. Fans of Rita Hayworth, then Welles''s wife, were shocked --- as was studio mogul Harry Cohn --- when they saw her long, luxuriant russet hair cut into a blonde bob. The yacht on which the characters sail belonged to Welles's friend Errol Flynn, and it is Flynn (unseen) who is sailing the vessel during the trip."