The Lady From Shanghai (1947)

ORSON WELLES

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

USA, 1947Screenplay by , based on the novel If I Die Before I Wake by Cinematography by Produced by Orson Welles.  Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by .

One of Orson Welles‘ most celebrated non-Kane projects, this one had, as usual for him, a difficult path to completion, including a longer 155-minute cut that studio head Harry Cohn forced him to cut to the 90-minute version we have surviving today. Welles plays a contented vagrant who is walking through a park when he happens to save a beautiful woman (, who was Mrs. Welles at the time) from being mugged. Escorting her safely home, she offers him a job working for her husband, who turns out to be a wealthy, powerful divorce attorney who has represented some pretty impressive criminals. The job is working on the couple’s glamorous yacht, which Welles takes and soon finds himself drawn into a dark and dirty web of sex and sin as his passion for Hayworth increases, as does his suspicion that she wants him to commit a murder for her. The story is a series of convoluted turns, I find this one harder to follow than The Big Sleep, but it features some of the most beautifully shot scenes of the decade and the concluding sequence in a hall of mirrors, which has been referenced by just everybody since, is dynamite.

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