speedracer5

The Lady From Shanghai & Other Orson Welles' Classics

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I'm posting this because one of my favorite movies-- The Lady From Shanghai is airing tomorrow night at 5pm (PST).  I haven't yet been able to obtain my own copy, so this will be like the fourth time I've recorded it.  I always record it when it airs. 

 

Anyway, I love this movie.  I'll have to admit that when I first saw it, I thought it was confusing, but not confusing in a bad way.  It was more confusing in an intriguing way.  The more I've seen the film, the more I've figured it out.  This is one of the best noirs and definitely one of Welles' best.  The famous shootout in the house of mirrors is definitely the highlight of the film.  The only "lowlight" in my opinion, is the Irish accent that Welles affects throughout the film.  It is inconsistent and sounds hokey.  However, his wavering accent doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the film.

 

FUN FACT: Did you know that The Lady From Shanghai was filmed on Errol Flynn's yacht? Supposedly Flynn can be spotted in a cantina scene, but I have yet to locate him.  I've also heard that you can see him from the back in one of the boat scenes, but I cannot confirm.  Flynn apparently skippered the yacht during the shoot.  I believe the dog in the film belongs to Errol Flynn.

 

I've found that with most of Welles' films and Welles himself, that usually people are in two camps: those who like him and those who don't.  I'm part of the "like" camp.  I love Welles' films because he always tries something different.  Sometimes the "different" isn't successful, but I appreciate that he tries.  I love how he goes more for true storytelling through camera angles, editing, sound, etc.  He is a true artist in that respect and that's what I appreciate about him. 

 

It's a shame that his films were always victim to overzealous editing and budget constraints.  Does anyone know if any "Director's Cuts" of his films exist?

 

Of the films of his that I've seen, these are my favorites in order of preference:

 

1. The Lady From Shanghai

2. The Third Man

3. Citizen Kane

4. The Stranger

5. Touch of Evil

6. The Magnificent Ambersons

 

I also really liked him with Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow is Forever, but he just acted in that film.  He did not direct.  I also loved his appearance as himself in an episode of I Love Lucy

 

I also just love his voice.  I could listen to him narrate anything.

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I like THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI too. It has a lot of really clever and interesting stuff in it.

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I love how offbeat The Lady from Shanghai is.   Rita Hayworth gives one of her

best performances and Everett Sloane are brilliant.  I believe that Joseph Cotton

makes a quick cameo in a scene as Rita's Elsa is running down the street.

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My favorite is The Stranger, mainly because it contains one of my favorite Edward G. Robinson roles.

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Thank you everyone for replying to my thread. 

 

I wanted to put it in the General Discussions, but didn't want to be accused of putting it in the wrong place. 

 

I love The Lady From Shanghai, I've been having trouble finding a copy of it.  Looks like I'll have to order it online if I can't procure a physical copy.  This movie is so weird but it's fantastic at the same time.  Orson Welles was a true artist and it's a shame he wasn't appreciated in his own time.

 

I love his films because they make you think.  Everything is not what it seems and it's not cut and dry.  Each successive viewing provides something new.  I always notice something different. 

 

I really wish there was an Orson Welles box set, so I could get all his movies at once.  It doesn't seem like there is, so I've been slowly trying to attain them one at a time.  So far, I've found Touch of Evil and Citizen Kane

 

I know I've asked this before on other threads and have never received a definitive answer, are there any Director's Cuts of Welles' films in existence?

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Although I can’t say that I am a huge Welles fan, I do like him, and I have a great respect for his achievements.

 

The Third Man is probably my favorite Welles film. I watch it and record it every time it comes on. I like the story, the way it’s told, the characters, the actors, and their performances. Although I wouldn’t have thought it, I’m also a big fan of Anton Karas’ zither score. It has such a pleasant, lilting elan about it that it provides an excellent contrast to the film's darker essence and undertones. From my perspective, the zither is just as much a character in the movie as any of the roles played by the actors. Come to think of it, so is the city. By the way, here’s video of Karas performing the theme and other parts of the score:

 

 

I'm surprised that Welles didn't try to use Karas in the film, too, if only for his appearance.

 

The Stranger is probably my second favorite Welles film, for the same reasons I like The Third Man (sans the zither score, of course). Although the town is not as much a part of the story as it is in The Third Man, I’ve always been fond of the idyllic way small towns are portrayed in “classical” movies. I’d love to live in a town like that, but alas, they only exist in the movies.

 

Citizen Kane is my third favorite Welles film. Sometimes I’ll watch it; sometimes I won’t.

 

I’m still trying to find things that I like in The Lady from Shanghai. Welles’ accent, as you mentioned, is something of an annoyance for me, too. I find Anders’ portrayal of the Grisby character annoying as well. Rita’s poorly recorded, and poorly lip-synched voice overs are also annoying. I’m probably missing something about this, but I also don’t get the way Welles directs the some of the actors to look off at odd angles when talking to other characters. I mainly notice it with the Grisby character, but Rita’s character also does it.

 

On the other hand, I really like the fact that Welles included the Chinese opera house and its performance, and that he has the characters speaking what I assume is Shanghainese, or perhaps Mandarin. The house of mirrors scene is great, too, except for the minor error of the supposedly stationary broken glass panning with the camera. I also have to say that Rita looked really good as a short-haired, platinum blond.

 

 The Magnificent Ambersons is probably my least favorite Welles film. And for some reason, I don’t recall ever having seen Touch of Evil, though I probably have.

 

As far as the movies Welles only acted in are concerned, the role that stands out most in my mind is Will Varner, in The Long, Hot Summer.

 

I agree with you about Welles being a true artist. But I am inclined to think that he would not have achieved any higher success in film even if he had been given an unlimited budget and complete autonomy. I think he would have gone so far off into Orson land, and erroneously put too much faith in his perception of his omnipotence and ability (as the poorly affected Irish accent suggests) that he would have quickly lost the interest of his fans.

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The Third Man is probably my favorite Welles film. . . .

 

I'm surprised that Welles didn't try to use Karas in the film, too, if only for his appearance.

 

The Third Man is not an Orson Welles film, at least not in the sense of those that he directed and for which he was the overwhelming creative influence. The Third Man is the film of director Carol Reed, with Welles having, what, 15 minutes or so on screen, as an actor. Welles makes the most of it, of course, and he is wonderful with the shadings that he brings to the Harry Lime characterization.

 

It's my understanding that Welles arrived at the Vienna movie location well after the film was underway. He is said to have made some creative suggestions to the cameraman and director regarding the sequence in which Lime is pursued in the sewer, and those suggestions are probably in the film. However, utlimately, it was Carol Reed's decision that carried the day, though he was undoubtedly appreciative of any suggestions coming from a great filmmaker like Orson.

 

I think that The Third Man is one of the great "light" suspense films of the movies (probably one of my ten favourite films, in fact). And while I know that people today probably think of Welles first and foremost when they think of this film (again, a tribute to his great performance and screen presence), it is director Carol Reed, almost in danger of becoming a forgotten man here, that deserves the main credit for the film's success, I feel.

 

It was Reed who discovered Anton Karas in Vienna and asked him to compose a score for his zither music (the famous "Third Man Theme") in the film. It was Reed who was responsible for the film's famous ending, initially against the protests of writer Graham Greene, who felt that a film of this nature required a more conventionally happy ending. And it was Reed who insisted upon hiring Welles to play Harry Lime.

 

Having said all this, if The Third Man had been made with an actor other than Welles as Lime, the odds are the film would not be as great as it is. In no way do I wish to minimize Orson's contribution to the film as an actor. He probably also deserves some credit for his suggestions on the sewer chase sequence, as well, but that was in collaboration with Reed.

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The Third Man is not an Orson Welles film, at least not in the sense of those that he directed and for which he was the overwhelming creative influence. The Third Man is the film of director Carol Reed, with Welles having, what, 15 minutes or so on screen, as an actor. Welles makes the most of it, of course, and he is wonderful with the shadings that he brings to the Harry Lime characterization.

 

It's my understanding that Welles arrived at the Vienna movie location well after the film was underway. He is said to have made some creative suggestions to the cameraman and director regarding the sequence in which Lime is pursued in the sewer, and those suggestions are probably in the film. However, utlimately, it was Carol Reed's decision that carried the day, though he was undoubtedly appreciative of any suggestions coming from a great filmmaker like Orson.

 

I think that The Third Man is one of the great "light" suspense films of the movies (probably one of my ten favourite films, in fact). And while I know that people today probably think of Welles first and foremost when they think of this film (again, a tribute to his great performance and screen presence), it is director Carol Reed, almost in danger of becoming a forgotten man here, that deserves the main credit for the film's success, I feel.

 

It was Reed who discovered Anton Karas in Vienna and asked him to compose a score for his zither music (the famous "Third Man Theme") in the film. It was Reed who was responsible for the film's famous ending, initially against the protests of writer Graham Greene, who felt that a film of this nature required a more conventionally happy ending. And it was Reed who insisted upon hiring Welles to play Harry Lime.

 

Having said all this, if The Third Man had been made with an actor other than Welles as Lime, the odds are the film would not be as great as it is. In no way do I wish to minimize Orson's contribution to the film as an actor. He probably also deserves some credit for his suggestions on the sewer chase sequence, as well, but that was in collaboration with Reed.

 

Dang! Guess I put my foot in it! All this time I've thought it was a Welles film, and clearly haven't paid attention. Thanks for the correction.

 

But now I'm starting to wonder if I would like it as much if it were a Welles film (which is moot, of course, but I do find that I like it significantly more than the other films I mentioned).

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Dang! Guess I put my foot in it! All this time I've thought it was a Welles film, and clearly haven't paid attention. Thanks for the correction.

 

But now I'm starting to wonder if I would like it as much if it were a Welles film (which is moot, of course, but I do find that I like it significantly more than the other films I mentioned).

 

Well like Tom said you wouldn't be the only one to make that assumption.   My guess is that since Welles doesn't have a big role in the film (as it relates to screen time not the plot which is build around his character),   people just assume Welles directed the film.

 

If Welles had directed the film I wonder if the story would have been as 'tight'.   e.g. would Welles had added scenes to push sub-plot points and the movie would have been longer?     Of course if Welles had done this the suits would have edited out those scenes anyhow!   (which is why Welles left Hollywood,  since he wanted more control). 

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If Welles had directed the film I wonder if the story would have been as 'tight'.   e.g. would Welles had added scenes to push sub-plot points and the movie would have been longer?     Of course if Welles had done this the suits would have edited out those scenes anyhow!   (which is why Welles left Hollywood,  since he wanted more control). 

Yes, it's interesting to speculate what kind of film the Third Man would have been if Orson Welles had directed it instead. I suspect that the film's light comic touch, one of its most enduring charms, might be missing. That zither music, for example, which acts almost like a cynical commentor at times, would be gone.

 

I very much appreciate Welles' own films, with the corrosive A Touch of Evil probably rating as my favourite of his career (though, having said that, I do enjoy the quirky Lady from Shanghai, as well).

 

However, I can also honestly say that there is no Welles film I like nearly as much as The Third Man. In that regard, I am very glad it was in the hands of the man who did direct it, Carol Reed.  

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I forgot that The Third Man wasn't a Welles film.  I knew that too.  I really enjoyed his appearance in that film.  His Harry Lime character probably has one of the best screen entrances ever. 

 

Has anyone listened to his "The Third Man" radio show? It's a spinoff of sorts featuring the Harry Lime character.  It's a very interesting show.

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The new restoration of Chimes at Midnight is fantastic.  My appreciation of that film is way up after repeated viewings and having additional exposure to Henry IV over the years.  Looking forward to the restoration of Othello later this year.  And of course, the Welles film that no one has ever seen, The Other Side of the Wind which is supposedly due out in a few months time.

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Ha!

 

For years I've occasionally asked if anyone has noticed the downward movement of the giant chandelier in the Josefstadt Theater in "THE THIRD MAN", just before Joseph Cotten gets up out of his seat, but no one has ever responded to my question. The movement is slight and lasts only two or three or four frames. I've often wondered why the Director of the film had the chandelier move in such a manner.

 

At last.... I have found out that the Josefstadt chandelier DOES INDEED MOVE UPWARD before every performance and DOWNWARD during intermission.

 

http://www.marriott.com/city-guide/city-poi.mi?cityId=94&attractionId=89749

 

See: "Nevertheless, this is a very charming stage with a bordeaux-red and gold trimmed decor for the main salon, in which as if by magic, a magnificent chandelier is raised to full height before each performance."

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I'm posting this because one of my favorite movies-- The Lady From Shanghai is airing tomorrow night at 5pm (PST).  I haven't yet been able to obtain my own copy, so this will be like the fourth time I've recorded it.  I always record it when it airs. 

 

Anyway, I love this movie.  I'll have to admit that when I first saw it, I thought it was confusing, but not confusing in a bad way.  It was more confusing in an intriguing way.  The more I've seen the film, the more I've figured it out.  This is one of the best noirs and definitely one of Welles' best.  The famous shootout in the house of mirrors is definitely the highlight of the film.  The only "lowlight" in my opinion, is the Irish accent that Welles affects throughout the film.  It is inconsistent and sounds hokey.  However, his wavering accent doesn't diminish my enjoyment of the film.

 

FUN FACT: Did you know that The Lady From Shanghai was filmed on Errol Flynn's yacht? Supposedly Flynn can be spotted in a cantina scene, but I have yet to locate him.  I've also heard that you can see him from the back in one of the boat scenes, but I cannot confirm.  Flynn apparently skippered the yacht during the shoot.  I believe the dog in the film belongs to Errol Flynn.

 

I've found that with most of Welles' films and Welles himself, that usually people are in two camps: those who like him and those who don't.  I'm part of the "like" camp.  I love Welles' films because he always tries something different.  Sometimes the "different" isn't successful, but I appreciate that he tries.  I love how he goes more for true storytelling through camera angles, editing, sound, etc.  He is a true artist in that respect and that's what I appreciate about him. 

 

It's a shame that his films were always victim to overzealous editing and budget constraints.  Does anyone know if any "Director's Cuts" of his films exist?

 

Of the films of his that I've seen, these are my favorites in order of preference:

 

1. The Lady From Shanghai

2. The Third Man

3. Citizen Kane

4. The Stranger

5. Touch of Evil

6. The Magnificent Ambersons

 

I also really liked him with Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow is Forever, but he just acted in that film.  He did not direct.  I also loved his appearance as himself in an episode of I Love Lucy

 

I also just love his voice.  I could listen to him narrate anything.

 

While I'm a fan of The Lady from Shanghai it took me multiple viewings to really apprentice the film.   I'm not sure that a 'director's cut', especially one that would have made the film longer,  would have improved it.    In fact maybe tighter editing and \ or less focus on the bizarreness of the supporting character,  would have made the plot easier to understand.     

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Also see this:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/15/daniel-kehlmann-german-author-interview-measuring-the-world

 

"When Daniel Kehlmann was four years old, he went to watch his father, one of Germany’s most sought-after theatre directors, lead a rehearsal at Vienna’s Josefstadt theatre. A chandelier was lowered from the ceiling, then raised again until it disappeared through a hole in the roof. “I didn’t know that this took place every night; I really thought it had happened for the first time and only for me."

 

And see 7 seconds into this video:

 

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While I'm a fan of The Lady from Shanghai it took me multiple viewings to really apprentice the film.   I'm not sure that a 'director's cut', especially one that would have made the film longer,  would have improved it.    In fact maybe tighter editing and \ or less focus on the bizarreness of the supporting character,  would have made the plot easier to understand.     

 

This has always bothered me about this movie, and you've put it just right: ..'the bizarreness of the supporting character'. That and the overly used odd camera angles in conjunction with those characters. It's like it's being pushed into my face - I dislike that tactic.

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..'the bizarreness of the supporting character'. That and the overly used odd camera angles in conjunction with those characters. It's like it's being pushed into my face - I dislike that tactic.

 

That's what I like about this film.

 

Ocassionally in real life, I meet a group of bizarre characters and they are usually very spooky.

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Speedracer, another Orson Welles performance you might enjoy is as Mr. Rochester in the 1944 version of Jane Eyre. TCM does show this one, if you haven't seen this version it is wonderful. Joan Fontaine as Jane, Elizabeth Taylor as a very young child, Agnes Morrehead, etc. great cast, beautiful film.

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That's what I like about this film.

 

Ocassionally in real life, I meet a group of bizarre characters and they are usually very spooky.

 

I know you like those aspects

:)

 

It's surreal to me, and it distracts my attention from the plot. I can't explain it - quirky, I guess.

 

I suppose this effect is exactly what Welles was after, so I take it in stride.

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That's what I like about this film.

 

Ocassionally in real life, I meet a group of bizarre characters and they are usually very spooky.

 

I'm ok with bizarre characters (e.g. the Bogie movie Dark Passage),  but in TLFS,  I feel Welles over does it and the movie would have been a better movie if he toned it down a notch or two.

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I'm ok with bizarre characters (e.g. the Bogie movie Dark Passage),  but in TLFS,  I feel Welles over does it and the movie would have been a better movie if he toned it down a notch or two.

 

It's almost a spoof of noir films, but I like that about this film. Such as the exaggerations of the Glenn Anders character. Anders was in other films but nobody remembers them or him, except for this film, because he was so weird and creepy in this film. San Francisco was the perfect place for such a creepy guy to live. I met many creepy people who lived there when I lived there in the 60s and 70s. Maybe they thought I was creepy.  :)

 

Glenn Anders on radio, as a chimpanzee, as directed by Orson Welles......

 

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For my taste, the scenes with Glenn Anders in The Lady from Shanghai, Akim Tamiroff in Mr. Arkadin, and Dennis Weaver in Touch of Evil all go on much too long, especially the scenes with Weaver, which to me are agonizingly long. Any producer who wanted to chop those scenes to smaller doses has my wholehearted approval. However, this is clearly part of Welles' sensibility. He obviously loves the long, drawn-out, in-your-face weirdness of these scenes and encourages the actors to go over the top.

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For my taste, the scenes with Glenn Anders in The Lady from Shanghai, Akim Tamiroff in Mr. Arkadin, and Dennis Weaver in Touch of Evil all go on much too long, especially the scenes with Weaver, which to me are agonizingly long. Any producer who wanted to chop those scenes to smaller doses has my wholehearted approval. However, this is clearly part of Welles' sensibility. He obviously loves the long, drawn-out, in-your-face weirdness of these scenes and encourages the actors to go over the top.

The longer the scene, the weirder the scene.

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I see on another thread that Chimes at Midnight is coming up in May and in a restored version no less. How exciting is that! I remember making a copy of this film many moons ago from a tape that some independent, hole-in-the-wall video store was carrying. I felt so privileged to "own" such a rare (at that time) movie, not caring a whit that the version was plagued with all those problems associated with some of the technical aspects.

 

Falstaff is traditionally played as a rollicking, devil-may-care, free-thinking, decidedly irreverent rogue with a touch of buffoonery here and there, but Welles does not play it that way (unfortunately to my way of thinking). Welles makes him rather staid, circumspect, with a demeanor of calm reasonableness that is normally not associated with the character. Welles, of course, was aware of the tradition and what he did with the character was quite deliberate.

 

Welles did the same thing with Clarence Darrow in Compulsion. The real Clarence Darrow delivered an impassioned closing argument that took three days (not to get the defendants off but to save them from the chair.) in the case upon which the movie is based. Welles' Darrow is in the same vein as his Falstaff, softer around the edges, calm and soft spoken.

 

It would have been interesting to see what Welles would have done had he not strayed from the beaten path.

 

Also coming up in May is Mr Arkadin and I assume and hope that they show the most recent incarnation of this movie. I saw it and thought that the narrative was much more lucid in this version.  I'm no expert on this movie but I know it has a colorful history with several versions that differ in various ways, the order of the scenes one of them I believe. Each version has a subtitle, this last was something like "The final..." something or ruther and I found it much more palatable than previous ones.

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