The Lady from Shanghai
Tue April 23, 7:30 PM
A romantic drifter gets caught between a corrupt tycoon and his voluptuous wife.
This story about murder and betrayal becomes murky long before its conclusion, but Orson Welles's quintessential film noir is about moral chaos, and Welles's stunning visuals speak for themselves. Shot in sharp black-and white, the story of innocent narrator Michael O'Hara's twisted journey into the netherworld is told through deep shadows, skewed compositions, and unsettling close-ups. Enchancing the surreally ominous atmosphere is the choice of settings, such as the San Francisco Aquarium love scene, in which the convoluted tale reaches its appropriate climax in an abandoned fun house that embodies O'Hara's nightmarish confusion. Finding the perfect image for shattered relationships and fractured personalities, Welles's famous final shootout takes place in the fun house's hall of mirrors, as O'Hara learns the truth in a place that trades on deception. Judging the narrative too Byzantine for his taste, Columbia chief Harry Cohn demanded that Lady from Shanghai be reedited, redubbed, and rescored before it was released. It still failed at the box office, rendering Welles a Hollywood outcast for almost a decade.— Lucia Bozzola, AllMovie