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  • The Lady From Shanghai [DVD] [1947] [2003]
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The Lady From Shanghai [DVD] [1947] [2003]

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Product details

  • Actors: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Writers: Orson Welles, Charles Lederer, Fletcher Markle, Sherwood King, William Castle
  • Producers: Orson Welles, Harry Cohn
  • Format: Subtitled, PAL, Black & White, Full Screen, Mono
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Greek, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
  • Dubbed: French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Aug. 2003
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009V8XU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,931 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Baffling murders, fascinating plot twists and remarkable camera work all contribute to this spellbinding, time-honored film noir written, directed by and starring Orson Welles. Hired to work on a yacht belonging to the disabled husband of femme fatale Rita Hayworth, Welles plays an innocent man drawn into a dangerous web of intrigue and murder. The subject of great controversy and scandal upon its initial release, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI shocked 1948 audiences by presenting Hayworth with her flaming red hair cut short and dyed champagne blonde. Fifty years later, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI is considered vintage Welles, his famous hall of mirrors climax hailed as one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history.


Legend has it that Orson Welles more or less conned studio boss Harry Cohn over the phone into making The Lady from Shanghai by grabbing the title from a nearby paperback. In any case, this is one of Welles's most fascinating works, a bizarre tale of an Irish sailor (Welles) who accompanies a beautiful woman (Rita Hayworth) and her handicapped husband (Everett Sloane) on a cruise and becomes involved in a murder plot. But never mind all that (the aforementioned legend also claims that Cohn offered a reward to anyone who could explain the plot to him). The film is really a dream of Welles's driving preoccupations both on and off-screen at the time: the elusiveness of identity, the mystique of things lost, and most of all the director's faltering marriage to Hayworth. In the tradition of male filmmakers who indirectly tell the story of their love affairs with leading ladies, Welles tells his own, photographing Hayworth as a deconstructed star, an obvious cinematic creation, thus reflecting, perhaps, a never-satisfied yearning that leads us back to the mystery of Citizen Kane. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Jan. 2013
Format: DVD
I did no research on the film prior to my first viewing of it because it was part of a Welles box set I had recently purchased. A box set I chiefly got because I wanted to own A Man For All Seasons and to also re-evaluate Waterloo. So I stick Orson and Rita in the player and I'm treated to class and confusion in equal measure.

On the surface the story seemed a simple one, man meets gorgeous woman and saves her from a couple of thugs, they click straight away and man gets offer of work on a cruise with woman and her famous lawyer husband, and then...

Well it becomes murder mystery of plotted devilment and much shenanigans. Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) himself doesn't really know what is going on, he is as confused as the viewer is, and that is wonderful to watch as he is pulled all over the place by pretty much everyone in the film. Obviously being pulled by the heart strings by a femme fatale of such beauty as Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth) has its moments, but you just know that things are going to go pear shaped.

So many wonderful things in the film, it has Welles visual style all over it, see a scene in an aquarium that is marvellous and the ending sequences in a fun house are majestic on the eye. The narration from O'Hara is joyously self mocking, while we get good light relief by way of a court case where Everett Sloane considerably lights up proceedings.

Yet the film is still something of an oddity, and in fact it's a choppy viewing experience because (as I was to find out after) studio bosses cut the film by pretty much a whole hour, and that is just not only frustrating to us the viewer, but very unfair on Welles' vision. I'm positive that a full original cut of this film would have been lauded and revered wholesale.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By doctor oz MB,MRCP on 20 Oct. 2009
Format: DVD
Orson Welles has in in essence designed a film noir but this has aged into profoundly unique and twisted art , much more than a murder mystery,that the motives of all the characters are obscure or they are conceived as a failure is insignificant as there is a twist here which every cineaste will observe as a multilayered work of genius .
The meeting between Elsa -RITA HAYWORTH -and Micheal -ORSON WELLES -in New York's
Central park opens the overture to a brittle romance with intense and torrid emotional exchanges ,the encounter is just as accidental as this unique drama destined to become a legendary cult classic .

ELSA is enroute to San francisco on their private yacht with her husband and some pals and hires Mike as a navigator and the turbulent journey begins , sailing through Panama canal .

The murder mystery is a planned event and it hatches on the yacht in the vast background of the mighty blue mysterious ocean and the rocky cliffs and exotic beaches where the romance mingles with evil negativity in a tongue in cheek manner .
Finally in a bizarre conspiracy almost like a prank, Micheal is framed for the murder of one of the guests on the yacht with irrefutable evidence and the murder trial ensues in San Francisco.
Frisco is shot as never before and even the 70s Chinatown borrowed from this classic ,the atmosphere is electric and chilling with menacing shadows and the corrupt cops around every corner .
The satire on the penal codes and judiciary is too obvious to be missed in a brilliant performance by Welles in the court with some eclectic and mischievously rampant dialogues delivered in total contempt of the law and order as extant until this day.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Jan. 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Welles takes the lead and also directs with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Rita Hayworth taking the role of the femme fatale. At the time, Welles was accused of creating a deliberately confusing and disjointed film to spite her, forcing her to cut and bleach her famous flowing red locks for the part. Welles plays a seaman (Mike O'Hara) who rescues Hayworth from muggers in a park at the beginning of the film. Hayworth is married to a famous trial laywer (Bannister) who is also crippled and twisted, both physically and mentally. Bannister persuades Welles to serve on his private yacht taking him, his wife and his partner on a cruise along the Mexican coast. During the voyage - shot with wonderfully atmospheric lighting - O'Hara is asked by Bannister's partner to help him fake his own death, for a "small fee". Now obsessed with Hayworth, and feeling that he must rescue her from this environment, Welles agrees. The stage is now set for a twist, with the partner's mysterious death, leaving O'Hara looking the clear murderer. Bannister - who is now sure of O'Hara's involvement with his wife - agrees to defend him, determined to loose this case. Just before the jury gives its decision, O'Hara manages to escape from the courtroom, setting things up for the finale, which takes place in the hall of mirrors of a deserted fun park. Apart from the awfulness of Welles' cod-Irish accent, and his inability to show much credibility in the fight scenes, the film's wonderful lighting and cryptic dialogue - delivered straight by the actors - bowls along well, with some wonderful set pieces such as Welles and Hayworth in the aquarium, Bannister cross-examining himself in the court scenes and the finale in the hall of mirrors.
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