Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Capsule Review: Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai (1947)


The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Directed by Orson Welles

Like much of Welles's work in Hollywood, this film noir was an ill-fated endeavor, taken from the director’s hands to be reedited and in some instances reshot against his will. Yet what survives is, miraculously, one of Welles’s most satisfying studio films, a work of playful genre escapades and stylistic effervescence. When an idealistic seaman (Welles) falls for a mysteries femme fatale (Rita Hayworth, Welles’s then-wife), he is forced to untangle a botched murder attempt involving not only the woman’s husband but also two lawyers and a private investigator. The carnivalesque plot grows more convoluted with each successive double cross, culminating in a thrilling sequence set inside an actual hall of mirrors, literalizing many of the narrative’s disorienting twists and once again proving Welles to be one of cinema’s consummate entertainers. (Opens Jan 31 at Film Forum) [The L]

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