The Lady From Shanghai
EXCLUSIVELY AT IFI
The biographer Peter Noble pronounced that The Lady from Shanghai had “cost a fortune, lost a fortune and finished Welles’ career at any of the big Hollywood studios.” At the time of its release, it was viewed as such a disaster that there was a rumour it was a vengeful attempt by Welles to sabotage the career of Rita Hayworth, his then wife from whom he divorced soon after shooting the film. It’s been thankfully reappraised since, and this newly restored version illustrates why it is now justly regarded as a classic of film noir.
Featuring Hayworth as coolly seductive femme fatale Elsa Bannister luring lonely Irishman Michael O’Hara (Welles) into a murder plot, the basic storyline suggests a standard template of the genre. Yet its narrative tricks and enthralling strangeness mean The Lady from Shanghai is anything but typical.