The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

The Lady from Shanghai (1947) movie poster

director Orson Welles
viewed: 11/19/2013

Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai, I hadn’t seen in close to 20 years, I think.

It’s a great movie, though a flawed one.   Isn’t every movie a flawed one?  There is no perfect movie, right?

One flaw of The Lady from Shanghai is Welles’ Irish brogue.  Back in the day, I guess, everybody thought they could put on an Irish brogue and get away with it.  As a friend pointed out to me, there is no part of the narrative that Welles’ character Michael O’Hara needed to be Irish.  So it’s a bit superfluous.

The big flaw in the film is that it was hacked up in editing and re-shoots, really blurring the idea of what this film could have been in Welles’ original intention.  Better or worse, one can only speculate.  Welles is the poster boy for what Hollywood does to a director with a vision.  It rips the film from the director, does whatever it wants to try to improve the film’s marketability to recoup their investment.  And back in the day, such as with this film, all original vision, version and footage is lost to time.

The film is still striking, vivid and interesting.  Individual shots and images are often intensely unusual, culminating in the film’s signature finale in the hall of mirrors at San Francisco’s long-lost Playland-at-the-Beach.  Welles shot a lot on location and there are a good deal of images of old San Francisco to make a resident swoon.

Speaking of swooning, Rita Hayworth.  ‘Nuff said.

One Reply to “The Lady from Shanghai (1947)”

  1. I was thinking about watching Lady from Shanghai and the others again just to compare shots of San Francisco. I thought a lot of the Dark Passage interiors looked like the real interiors of the SF apartments and houses.

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