Final Day! Thursday, February 13
THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI
$7.50 Member $13.00 Regular
Directed by ORSON WELLES
Starring ORSON WELLES & RITA HAYWORTH
(1948) “Maybe I’ll live so long that I’ll forget her. Maybe I’ll die trying.” As a rich man’s wife and her hopeful lover discuss a murder plot at an aquarium, a shark swims behind them; a sailor describes a shark’s feeding frenzy as lawyers trade wisecracks; and a judge wails “This isn’t a football game!” as a courtroom erupts. Vintage Film Noir: Byzantine plot complications ensue — we won’t try to summarize this one — as footloose Irish sailor Orson Welles gets mixed up in murder with crooked lawyer Everett Sloane and his sultry wife Rita Hayworth (then Mrs. Welles), with legendary funhouse hall-of-mirrors shootout finale. Approx. 90 min. DCP.
"The thriller’s final sequence, set in a hall of mirrors, is cinema’s peak moment of overt style, impossible not to read as Welles’s smashing of his own celebrity."
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"Central to the appeal of the film is the sensation of unease, of anxiety and dread, it so effortlessly conjures. Indeed, it suggests noir's extreme: convolution pushed into abstraction, a plot so sinister it is impossible to comprehend."
– Calum Marsh, Village Voice
"AN OVERSTUFFED, WONDROUSLY WEIRD MOVIE… [that] plays as a rough draft for Welles's Touch of Evil. The cherry on top of this huge melting sundae is the dialogue at large, which is almost entirely composed of quotable only-in-the-movies luxury super-star bon mots."
– Chuck Bowen, Slant
"The lurid plot involves lust and murder, which Welles renders in a frenzied array of distorting and disorienting images. Cocked angles and high-contrast lighting are matched by an ear-catching relay of highly inflected voices of character actors… Welles gives [then-wife] Hayworth closeups of unmatched rapture."
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“A wild nightmare which Welles illustrates with baroque juxtaposition and illusive imagery! An unusual Noir film. It can be seen as the complete opposite of the hard-boiled tradition explored by writers like Chandler and Hammett; and yet it contains elements of chaos and obtuseness common to both writers. At the same time, Elsa Bannister [Hayworth’s character] is an original femme fatale, her only rival being Brigid O’Shaughnessy from Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.”
– Carl Macek, Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style
“A reversion to the style of Citizen Kane: deeply shadowed photography, ogreish close-ups, settings heavy with association... Essentially a part of the current violence cycle, down to its miasma of sexual hatred and its vicious heroine.”
– Dilys Powell (1947)
“Welles’ bizarre set, and the multiple mirrored reflections of the film’s duplicitous husband and wife are equally representative of the uncertain, shifting identities, the essential mysteriousness of personality, of an entire cross-section of Noir characters.”
– Foster Hirsch
“A glittering film noir! Everett Sloane is an entertainingly outré villain — a two-legged tarantula on crutches — and there are several bold, flashy set pieces in San Francisco, including a chase through a Chinatown theater, a love scene at the aquarium in Golden Gate Park, and a fun-house shoot-out (quoted at the climax of Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery). In the title role, Rita Hayworth, her hair colored platinum, has both bathing-beauty allure and an exciting sadistic streak — there’s a stiletto hidden in the cheesecake.”
– Michael Sragow, The New Yorker