The Lady from Shangai

Orson Welles

T. it.: La signora di Shanghai. Sog.: dal romanzo If I Die Before I Wake (L’altalena della morte) di Sherwood King. Scen.: Orson Welles. F.: Charles Lawton, Jr. M.: Viola Lawrence. Scgf.: Stephen Goosson, Sturges Carne. Mus.: Heinz Roemheld. Int.: Orson Welles (Michael O’Hara), Rita Hayworth (Elsa Bannister), Everett Sloane (Arthur Bannister), Glenn Anders (George Grisby), Ted de Corsia (Sidney Broome), Gus Schilling (Goldie), Louis Merrill (Jake), Erskine Sanford (giudice), Carl Frank (procuratore distrettuale Galloway), Evelyn Ellis (Bessie). Prod.: Columbia Pictures. DCP. D.: 88′. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Welles found himself back in Hollywood, where his plans for an offbeat potboiler were transformed into a big-budget ve hicle for Rita Hayworth. The resulting film (originally titled Take This Woman and then Black Irish) tells the story of how Michael O’Hara (Welles), a naïve vagabond, is seduced by the moneyed glamour of Elsa Bannister (Hayworth), allowing himself to become a gigolo and then a duped accomplice in murder. As O’Hara commits himself to this deceitful group, the film becomes increasingly farcical and demonic; from the fantastic love scene with Rita Hayworth in the San Francisco aquarium until the magic mirror maze at the conclusion, the world around O’Hara turns utterly lunatic, with no release […]. The movie was substantially re-edited after the second preview and long held from release. […] Furthermore, there is a sense in which all of Columbia’s tampering with the film has not been as disruptive as, say, RKO’s revisions of Ambersons. The reason is that The Lady from Shanghai is characterized by a sort of inspired silliness, a grotesquely comic stylization that has moved beyond expressionism toward absurdity. […] In fact, one could argue that Welles’s career during this period had begun to move more and more away from realism to fantasy, from consciousness to subconsciousness, from ports to Crazy Houses. His style, with its fantastic distortions, its complex play of light and shadow, its many levels of activity, had always been suited to the depiction of corruption and madness. But The Lady from Shanghai, probably out of sheer necessity, combines the extremes of this style with the extremes of Hollywood convention; in the process it becomes one of Welles’s most hyperkinetic films, and his most misanthropic treatment of American life.

James Naremore, The Magic World of Orson Welles, Oxford University Press, New York 1978


Copy From

The film was restored in 4K at Colorworks by Sony Pictures. The original nitrate negative was scanned at 4K at Cineric in New York. Digital image restoration to correct for damage was completed at MTI Film in Los Angeles, and audio restoration at Chace Audio by Deluxe. Color correction and DCP completed at Colorworks