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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor Orson Welles film, meaning still worth a look
This starts off veryyy slowly. Welles' narration in a strong irish accent kicks in as soon as the credits drop and is at first pretty painful. Luckily, it doesn't take long to accept it. The last half hour of the movie is great, as are bits of the first hour. Stick with it, I almost gave up on it, as it does pay off at the end. A weak 4 out of 5 stars, but definitely...
Published on Aug. 8 2003 by Roger Zeus

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Another butchered masterpiece
As with "The Magnificent Ambersons" some six years previous, director Welles ran into some difficulties with the studio regarding the original cut of the movie, which they said was too long. In those days there were frequently double or triple bills with two or three movies shown, and theater owners were hesitant to show movies that were longer than an hour...
Published on March 9 2000 by Ian Lohr


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Minor Orson Welles film, meaning still worth a look, Aug. 8 2003
By 
Roger Zeus (Richmond, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lady from Shanghai (DVD)
This starts off veryyy slowly. Welles' narration in a strong irish accent kicks in as soon as the credits drop and is at first pretty painful. Luckily, it doesn't take long to accept it. The last half hour of the movie is great, as are bits of the first hour. Stick with it, I almost gave up on it, as it does pay off at the end. A weak 4 out of 5 stars, but definitely worth a look. I bought mine cheap and used so I'm not complaining. The camera-work, especially at the end, makes the movie. Even though the story is pretty typical Hollywood fare, Welles' direction is anything but.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Orson Welles 7 years past Kane , and better. Beyond film noir., Sept. 9 2014
By 
Big Bill - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Orson Welles is remembered more for Citizen Kane than this film , but I don't know why. This movie isn't just film noir , it is
black cinema. Screenplay by Welles , directed by Welles , and featuring Welles . He has control of everything , and as you watch it
you realize that every scene , every camera angle , is for a reason. The film revolts the viewer as it unfolds , it is sort of like a train wreck ; a terrible thing , but you can't help but watch. The characters are repugnant , obviously on purpose. The camera shots ,
particularly on faces , are too tight , too close , and this too , is in my opinion , designed to revolt the viewer. The characters
all seem to hate each other , and if it weren't for the fact that they are trapped together on a yacht , or by marriage , or by
bussiness associations , you would expect them to flee each other. To further irritate the viewer ( me at least ) Welles assumes a phony Irish brogue accent that seems out of place , and not necessary to the story. The convoluted plot involves murder , but who is doing what to whom is a multilevel mystery. Without describing it , the finale is nothing less than superb.
So far my description may not motivate you to want to see it , but it is so well done in its' weird direction , that it is a must see.
Welles had control of Citizen Kane too , but this is seven years later , and he is more accomplished at his craft , and it is fascinating
in its' offbeat way. Forget Mars , forget Kane , see this. In Glorious Black & White.
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5.0 out of 5 stars EVEN BUTCHERED, WELLE'S GENIUS SHINES THROUGH!, March 9 2003
By 
Nix Pix (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lady from Shanghai (DVD)
Orson Welles was a man ahead of his time. Today he may very well have been placed on the pedestal reserved for the likes of David Lynch or David Cronenberg. Unfortunately, during his tenure, Welles generally ticked off the ruling class and as a result, all of his masterpieces suffered at the hands of lesser men, determined to ruin Welle's screen legacies by chopping them up. Such is the case with "The Lady from Shanghai", a convoluted thriller about a guy who meets a woman who may want to have her husband killed or may not and sets up another guy to frame Welles for....oh, hell! Trust me, it's a real mind twister and just like "The Big Sleep" the ending makes no sense. Columbia executives took Welles' masterpiece apart after he had already departed for greener pastures and what remains is a 98 min. movie that really makes no sense. Having said that, the film left a lasting impression on me and a favorable one.
Welles genius lays in his camera work, his ability to create mood and an unsettling atmosphere that can rival any film noir of his day or the present. Rita Hayworth, who by this time was ending her marriage to Welles, is the lady in question, her hair cut short and dyed blonde - both of which infuriated Columbia studio boss, Harry Cohen who put Hayworth on suspension shortly thereafter.
Columbia Home Video has done a remarkably fine job on the transfer of this movie. Contrast level is superb. Clarity is remarkable, even to the most minute detail in costume and set design. The moody film noir atmosphere is well represented. The audio, though mono, is also exceptionally well represented. No extras, save a brief little featurette and some stills. This is not a jam packed DVD but one that will definitely impress nevertheless. BOTTOM LINE: As vintage "Welles" its a classic bar none (except for Citizen Kane)!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out for those sharks!, July 19 2002
By 
Harvey M. Canter (tarzana, ca United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Lady from Shanghai (DVD)
I had seen this film a couple of times and never really warmed up to it, but I thought I'd give the DVD a try. After 3 viewings I think I finally got it. Sure, a lot of it is implausible and weird--but if you can willingly suspend your disbelief you are in for a rich noir ride. The writing is superb, the locations are exotic and evocative, and this baby is dark and cynical to its core! Rita Hayworth proves herself an excellent actress--to balance all of the flesh Welles so lovingly displays of his soon ex-to-be. Why Welles had to saddle himself with the accent is truly beyond me, and I felt it didn't work that well--although it didn't ruin the picture. All the supporting players are evil and sweaty, especially Everett Sloan as the crippled cuckold. I think that crippling is the central metaphor in the film, but more so emotional crippling. All of these people are just twisted and broken inside, and they can't even begin to understand love, loyalty, and compassion. Visually this is portrayed by the funhouse mirror scene, an obvious reference to their narcissism and inability to connect to others as they really are. Well, enough psychobabble. The DVD has some nice extras and we learn a lot about the history and making of the film. Bogdanovitch does a commentary that is rich in many ways, but has two central problems: it is not linked to what is happening on the screen, and it becomes very repetitive at a certain point. This is a gripe I have with a lot of commentary tracks--someone turns on a mic and the subject blabs on without really talking directly about the great stuff happening RIGHT NOW in the movie. The best tracks are very focused on the film, and they integrate all of their information into it. For some great tracks, I recommend Ebert's Citizen Kane, Camille Paglia on Basic Instinct, and the track for the Criterion Notorious. Anyway, Lady from Shanghai is a seminal noir that is visually and thematically satisfying. Give my love to the sunrise!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Horrible!, March 11 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Lady from Shanghai (DVD)
So you think you've discovered a lost Orson Welles gem.
Think again! This is the most horrible, nonsensical piece of... ever committed to celluloid. For the first half-hour almost nothing happens. It's like Proust without the poetic quality. It just sits there and sits there. You just won't believe it. None of the characters makes sense, their motivations are virtually nonexistent, the plot is so forced it makes you laugh. How could Welles have made this? In one scene, Welles grabs for a man's medication because the jury's about to come in in a murder case (Welles is the defendant) and Welles wants to take an overdose and die. The only problem is that that doesn't square with his personality, NOT TO MENTION the fact that he just said he thinks the jury will find him innocent. In another, equally bizarre scene, Welles beats a guy to a pulp on the street, then immediately runs into a nearby empty building and begins to dance with his girlfriend (of course there's no music). Umm...don't you think you should get the hell out of there, Orson? This isn't the time to dance. It's just ludicrous, like a Saturday Night Live skit. A remake should star Chevy Chase.
Sometimes the camera work is also utterly confused. A man, standing on a cliff, says, "I want to pay you to kill me," then we see the man from above, just above his head, as he turns his face to the sky and laughs, and vanishes off camera.
Well, we all thought he'd jumped off the cliff, but he hadn't. He had just walked away, abruptly, that's all. Very odd and confusing.
If you must see every Orson Welles film, then fine. But if you haven't, see everything else he made first, because this is not only the worst Welles film, but one of the worst films by anyone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood Masterpiece, Feb. 4 2002
By 
"juleswelles" (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lady from Shanghai (DVD)
The most tragic aspect of Orson Welles' career is the accepted wisdom that he only made three good films. In fact he made 13 films in a 40 year career (a tragically small number in itself) and ten of them were arguably masterpieces. That's a track record that bears comparison with anyone.
The Lady from Shanghai is a classic example of a misunderstood Welles masterpiece. The studio didn't understand the plot and the film got buried; in addition it was put forward that Welles intended revenge on his ex-wife Rita Hayworth by casting her as the bad girl (in fact Welles only interest was in making a great film and Hayworth's astonishing performance merely consecrates his success).
Welles fully understood the attractions, both of film noir themes (jealousy, greed, paranoia) and the mandatory visuals that go with the genre. The great cinematographer Stanley Cortez once said of Welles that he understood lighting better than anyone in the Cinema. Many scenes stand out as examples of Welles' brilliant visual invention - the lovers meeting at the aquarium and the final "hall of mirrors" shootout are just two outstanding set pieces amongst a miasma of unsettling camera angles, close-ups and deep, overbearing shadows. Welles' unique talent was in reinventing himself with every film, so whilst there are familiar Wellesian hallmarks in Shanghai (overlapping dialogue, deep focus etc) it is still a work of stunning visual originality, albeit shot in 16mm.
What the french call "mise en scene" (literally "composition") was everything to Welles, so the plot (an innocent man is drawn into a web of intrigue by a woman) was less important, save to the extent that it enabled Welles to delve into the emotional dynamics of the characters. For example, the fracturing relationship between Welles' (the actor) and Hayworth's characters is dealt with in an uncommonly sophisticated manner for what is essentially a femme-fatale/innocent-chump storyline.
So buy this and marvel at the work of Cinema's only natural (and greatest ever) inventor. And while you're at it, see The Trial, Othello, Chimes at Midnight, F for Fake, Macbeth and The Stranger as well.
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2.0 out of 5 stars If only they had listened to Welles..., Jan. 9 2002
By A Customer
This movie isn't bad, it has some scenes that do make it worth watching. The end is especially fabulous. Unfortunately, this film was subjected to the cutting table without Welles' aproval of the cuts. The film was originally an hour longer, and I think that perhaps it would have been better if many of the cut scenes had been kept. Welles was in South America at the time the editing was done, and not given any say in it. Also the music is sometimes absurd. Welles was not happy with it, and asked for changes, but they were not made. Unfortunately Welles' Irish accent is not the greatest, and it is heard far more than he had originally wanted, because the producers thought that more narration was needed. And with all the things that were cut out, it probably was.
However, the final sequence in the crazy house makes up for a lot. Though much of that was cut out too, I can only imagine how fabulous it would have been if it had not been cut. It is very sureal, and reminds me of the Dali dream sequence in Hitchcock's Spellbound.
Overall, the film is worth seeing for the great cinematography and final scene. It is unfortunate that it has so many flaws over which Welles had no control.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Orson at his slyest, strangest,and most outrageous...!!, Dec 17 2001
By 
Hans Castorp (Devon, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
...And that is saying alot,given his vast canon, and knowing that just about everything he did was pretty...well, you know what I mean! Anyway, this rare Welles entry is a definite must for any film buff, I think more accessible and eccentric than either the more famous "Kane" or "Ambersons". And definitely several cuts above "The Stranger",which was done only two years earlier. Rita Hayworth is the ultimate femme fatale,every bit as cunning as Barbara Stanwyk in 1944's "Double Indemnity". LADY FROM SHANGHAI may be my favorite Noir film, with a bamboozling plot, right up there with Chandler's "The Big Sleep". Neither of these have the exotic beach locals,including a canoe ride through a thicket of crocodiles,and my favorite, a tour through the San Francisco aquarium,where Orson and Rita fit right in with some of the strangest octopuses, and squids you'll ever see,even if they are in black and white. Then there's the final stroll through Chinatown,the Chinese Theatre, and the famous hall of mirrors scene. Does any other Noir film have anything close to this?? None that I know!!! A Must See,and not just for Mr. Welles's legions of fans!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Orson at his slyest, strangest,and most outrageous...!!, Dec 17 2001
By 
Hans Castorp (Devon, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
...And that is saying alot,given his vast canon, and knowing that just about everything he did was pretty...well, you know what I mean! Anyway, this rare Welles entry is a definite must for any film buff, I think more accessible and eccentric than either the more famous "Kane" or "Ambersons". And definitely several cuts above "The Stranger",which was done only two years earlier. Rita Hayworth is the ultimate femme fatale,every bit as cunning as Barbara Stanwyk in 1944's "Double Indemnity". LADY FROM SHANGHAI may be my favorite Noir film, with a bamboozling plot, right up there with Chandler's "The Big Sleep". Neither of these have the exotic beach locals,including a canoe ride through a thicket of crocodiles,and my favorite, a tour through the San Francisco aquarium,where Orson and Rita fit right in with some of the strangest octopuses, and squids you'll ever see,even if they are in black and white. Then there's the final stroll through Chinatown,the Chinese Theatre, and the famous hall of mirrors scene. Does any other Noir film have anything close to this?? None that I know!!! A Must See,and not just for Mr. Welles's legions of fans!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Orson at his slyest, strangest,and most outrageous...!!, Dec 17 2001
By 
Hans Castorp (Devon, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
...And that is saying alot,given his vast canon, and knowing that just about everything he did was pretty...well, you know what I mean! Anyway, this rare Welles entry is a definite must for any film buff, I think more accessible and eccentric than either the more famous "Kane" or "Ambersons". And definitely several cuts above "The Stranger",which was done only two years earlier. Rita Hayworth is the ultimate femme fatale,every bit as cunning as Barbara Stanwyk in 1944's "Double Indemnity". LADY FROM SHANGHAI may be my favorite Noir film, with a bamboozling plot, right up there with Chandler's "The Big Sleep". Neither of these have the exotic beach locals,including a canoe ride through a thicket of crocodiles,and my favorite, a tour through the San Francisco aquarium,where Orson and Rita fit right in with some of the strangest octopuses, and squids you'll ever see,even if they are in black and white. Then there's the final stroll through Chinatown,the Chinese Theatre, and the famous hall of mirrors scene. Does any other Noir film have anything close to this?? None that I know!!! A Must See,and not just for Mr. Welles's legions of fans!
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The Lady from Shanghai
The Lady from Shanghai by Orson Welles (DVD - 2000)
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