The Lady from Shanghai concludes our month dedicated to Orson Welles. Filmed in 1946, the movie was released two years later. This time the production company was Columbia Pictures and Orson stepped into this project favourably as his main female character was none other than the studio’s most valuable star, Rita Hayworth. It is Rita’s only movie where her hair was dyed from auburn red to blonde and cut short (at the decision of Orson Welles), much to the indignation of Columbia’s boss, Harry Cohn.
The Lady From Shanghai is a complicated film noir (but a film noir which thanks to Orson’s filming aesthetics is taken to another level) with plot twists, character revelations and puzzle pieces you have to put together in order to understand its subtext. Orson Welles plays the role of a seaman, Michael O’Hara, employed as a crew member on the yacht of the wealthy lawyer, Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane). Rita starrs as Bannister’s wife, Elsa, performing a great role of a deceptive, impassive and seductive temptress. The plot comes to a point when a crime is committed and everybody seems to behave without any ethics. Probably the best scene in the film is the dénouement, the climax scene filmed in a room full of distorting and replicating mirrors. The final scenes are brilliantly shot, the depth of the visual field used by the cinematographer and the camera angles with the alternating play of light and shadow make The Lady From Shanghai unforgettable, a showcase of Orson Welles’ singular talent.
The Lady from Shanghai is a production of Columbia Pictures Corporation