Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Recommended Posts

Ok, full disclosure:  I really don't like The Lady from Shanghai very much.  Today was the second time in two months that I watched it (TCM showed it, not in the Noir Alley slot, I think one evening in April??  and I watched it then, not for the first time.)

Why don't I like it? Let me count the ways...It's not just that the plot is almost incomprehensible;  that's a feature of many noirs, and plot is not the main reason why I like this type of film.  Still,  the plot of TLFS seems to be even more complicated than most noirs -- and it's not enjoyable enough to do the work to try and understand it.

None of the characters are at all likable--even Orson's character,  the hapless Michael O'Hara, is a bit annoying- and not just because of the bad Irish accent.  (Why does he have to be Irish, anyway?  He could have been American and it would not have affected the story one jot.)   But Michael is a saint compared to the rest of the lot on that horrible cruise. I can't stand the way they all just lie around, being decadent and unpleasant and cryptic.  I just can't get interested in any of them or their stories.  Maybe if we'd been told why Elsa  (Rita Hayworth) had married  Arthur Bannister in the first place, we might have a little more sympathy for her.  It's implied that she got into some sort of trouble when she lived in Shanghai  (she actually seems to have told the truth about that, she really did live in Shanghai once)  and that Bannister saved her, presumably for the price of  marriage to him. 

But she's so uninteresting, as are all of them, that I can't be bothered trying to figure out their histories.  And that picnic !  What a depressing debacle that was !  

I do concede that the two most famous scenes in the film-  the aquarium one and of course the finale, at the amusement park , are indeed fantastic, and deserve the fame they enjoy in the annuls of spectacular cinematic climaxes.    But one and a half great scenes in a 90 minute movie are not enough to make me love The Lady from Shanghai.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

With all due respect to Miss Wonderly, I enjoyed THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. Having only seen it once several years ago, I found that my two pet peeves (Irish accent for Wells and blonde hair for Hayworth) didn't bother me that much this time around. She's right that the plot was a bit convoluted. I struggled with why George wanted Michael to kill him and then sign a confession, but I finally figured out how the plan was supposed to work.  As I get more comfortable with these noirs, I've learned sometimes you just have to accept some flaws.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

And my biggest complaint about TLFS would be that Welles just doesn't have a leading man presence in order to carry off the Michael O'Hara character.

Nope, in my view he should've cast another actor in the role, perhaps John Garfield or Robert Mitchum, but anyone but himself. If anything, he should have cast himself in the role Everett Sloan played or even perhaps the one Glenn Anders played.

(...sorry Orson,  you should have put your ego aside here and stepped aside so that your soon-to-be ex-wife would've had a better and more interesting foil to play off of)

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I like Lady from Shanghai, though I will concede some of the criticisms mentioned by posters here. But even acknowledging the confusion of the story and the fact that a Garfield or Mitchum in the lead would have given the film more gravitas (something I hadn't considered before, thanks Dargo), I still  like LFS for its on location Mexican backdrops (include a few shots of Errol Flynn's schooner, the Zaca) with its strong black and white photography, the odd ball angles at times of Welles' direction and the performances, in particular, of Everett Sloane and the very strange Glenn Anders. There's something about the way Anders kept saying "Tarrrrget practice," drawing out the first syllable of 'target' that stays with me.

Of course, the film also climaxes with its legendary house of mirrors shoot up, a justly famous tour de force demonstration of Welles genius behind the camera.

Why Welles made the decision, though, to have Rita shorten her hair and dye it blonde, I don't quite know. I miss those gorgeous Gilda locks and maybe a little bit of the magic was missing with them. There were reportedly squabbles between Hayworth and Welles during the making of the film and they'd be divorced by the end of the year this film was released.

ladyfromshanghaimirror.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Hoganman1 said:

With all due respect to Miss Wonderly, I enjoyed THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI. Having only seen it once several years ago, I found that my two pet peeves (Irish accent for Wells and blonde hair for Hayworth) didn't bother me that much this time around. She's right that the plot was a bit convoluted. I struggled with why George wanted Michael to kill him and then sign a confession, but I finally figured out how the plan was supposed to work.  As I get more comfortable with these noirs, I've learned sometimes you just have to accept some flaws.  

I'm glad you're learning to like film noir movies, Hoganman.  Of course there's a huge range of character, story, and themes in noir ( as in all films) and we can't be expected to like them all the same.

But as for "sometimes you just have to accept some flaws", I'm not sure what you mean by that.  There's no question that if you like a film, you're quite willing to overlook whatever "flaws" it may have.  There are all kinds of movies - noir and otherwise -  that are deeply flawed that I love.  But it's also true that we all have very visceral responses to films sometimes, and when that happens, no amount of rationalizing that we should like the movie in question, and therefore by sheer force of will we 'll simply overlook its "flaws" and come to like it, will work.

I'm probably being way too over-analytical on your statement there;  I think you just meant, despite those points about "The Lady from Shanghai" you mention that you didn't like  (Orson Welles' unconvincing Irish accent, Rita Hayworth's unflattering hair style), you still enjoyed the movie.  But for me, as I tried to express in my earlier post about it,  I really don't like this film, on a visceral level  -- as I mentioned before, the seemingly endless cruise, the unpleasant pointless bickering between all the characters involved,  the unfathomable characters of Elsa, her husband, and his partner  - I could go on.  The point is, it's just not an engaging or enjoyable film for me in any way (save for those two spectacular scenes I talked about before, which really are beautifully cinematic and visually memorable),  and my dislike of it goes beyond just overlooking a few flaws.

Sorry if I'm over-reacting, again, I think you made your comment in all good will, and you probably weren't expecting such a strong disagreement with your innocuous remark. I guess I just wanted to make it clear that I have no problem giving films that are "flawed" a pass if I like them.  And again, it was not because of this one's convoluted plot that I disliked it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Dargo said:

And my biggest complaint about TLFS would be that Welles just doesn't have a leading man presence in order to carry off the Michael O'Hara character.

Nope, in my view he should've cast another actor in the role, perhaps John Garfield or Robert Mitchum, but anyone but himself. If anything, he should have cast himself in the role Everett Sloan played or even perhaps the one Glenn Anders played.

(...sorry Orson,  you should have put your ego aside here and stepped aside so that your soon-to-be ex-wife would've had a better and more interesting foil to play off of)

Well, Michael O'Hara is supposed to be considerably younger than Bannister and Grisby, so in that respect Welles fit the part  (I think he was 31  when the movie was shot.)  Although he's not classically handsome, and you can already see the beginning of the extra weight he carried in later life,  he was not nearly old enough nor unattractive enough to play Bannister or Grisby.

I do agree, however, that another actor would have made a better O'Hara. As you suggest, John Garfield would have been perfect.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, TomJH said:

Well I like Lady from Shanghai, though I will concede some of the criticisms mentioned by posters here. ...

Of course, the film also climaxes with its legendary house of mirrors shoot up, a justly famous tour de force demonstration of Welles genius behind the camera.....

 

ladyfromshanghaimirror.jpg

The whole amusement park scene, culminating in the legendary House of MIrrors ending, is fantastic and justifiably famous.  Tom, are you familiar with the Woody Allen film Manhattan Murder Mystery ?  Without giving too much away  (if you  haven't seen it), I'll just say that Woody pays homage to this scene to great effect.  It's always fun when a movie you're watching makes an allusion to  a much earlier work - even some of the dialogue is almost the same !

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like  LFS  ,i watched it a few times before.I will be the only one here to say this..Rita Hayworth looks extraordinary in the film,the blonde short hair,enhance her beauty,she is gorgeous.. my  favorite Rita,as for Welles' Irish accent well,when i close my eyes he sounds like Peter Lorre sometimes,Lorre was German as you know, i will try again to see Errol Flynn at the bar(supposed to be there),no luck ,i will make a serious attempt tomorrow...

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, nakano said:

I like  LFS  ,i watched it a few times before.I will be the only one here to say this..Rita Hayworth looks extraordinary in the film,the blonde short hair,enhance her beauty,she is gorgeous.. my  favorite Rita,as for Welles' Irish accent well,when i close my eyes he sounds like Peter Lorre sometimes,Lorre was German as you know, i will try again to see Errol Flynn at the bar(supposed to be there),no luck ,i will make a serious attempt tomorrow...

I suspect this shot of Flynn and his wife and the Welleses (is that the correct spelling?) together on the Zaca while shooting the film is the closest you will ever get to finding Errol.

Aboard-the-Zaca-during-filming-of-The-La

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

The whole amusement park scene, culminating in the legendary House of MIrrors ending, is fantastic and justifiably famous.  Tom, are you familiar with the Woody Allen film Manhattan Murder Mystery ?  Without giving too much away  (if you  haven't seen it), I'll just say that Woody pays homage to this scene to great effect.  It's always fun when a movie you're watching makes an allusion to  a much earlier work - even some of the dialogue is almost the same !

It's been years since I saw the Allen film, MissW, so I don't recall any LFS reference the Woodster may have included. I've cracked a few mirrors myself when I looked into them first thing in the morning. Maybe that was my own way of paying homage to the film.

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Ok, full disclosure:  I really don't like The Lady from Shanghai very much.  Today was the second time in two months that I watched it (TCM showed it, not in the Noir Alley slot, I think one evening in April??  and I watched it then, not for the first time.)

Why don't I like it? Let me count the ways...It's not just that the plot is almost incomprehensible;  that's a feature of many noirs, and plot is not the main reason why I like this type of film.  Still,  the plot of TLFS seems to be even more complicated than most noirs -- and it's not enjoyable enough to do the work to try and understand it.

None of the characters are at all likable--even Orson's character,  the hapless Michael O'Hara, is a bit annoying- and not just because of the bad Irish accent.  (Why does he have to be Irish, anyway?  He could have been American and it would not have affected the story one jot.)   But Michael is a saint compared to the rest of the lot on that horrible cruise. I can't stand the way they all just lie around, being decadent and unpleasant and cryptic.  I just can't get interested in any of them or their stories.  Maybe if we'd been told why Elsa  (Rita Hayworth) had married  Arthur Bannister in the first place, we might have a little more sympathy for her.  It's implied that she got into some sort of trouble when she lived in Shanghai  (she actually seems to have told the truth about that, she really did live in Shanghai once)  and that Bannister saved her, presumably for the price of  marriage to him. 

But she's so uninteresting, as are all of them, that I can't be bothered trying to figure out their histories.  And that picnic !  What a depressing debacle that was !  

I do concede that the two most famous scenes in the film-  the aquarium one and of course the finale, at the amusement park , are indeed fantastic, and deserve the fame they enjoy in the annuls of spectacular cinematic climaxes.    But one and a half great scenes in a 90 minute movie are not enough to make me love The Lady from Shanghai.

I like it (not love it) for being bizarre and macabre, I don't like any of the characters either, don't like the stupid Welles Irish accent, but do like the weird visuals and also its audios. One wonders if it might had more background on Rosalie in the original material shot that got edited and that would have made her more interesting. Glen Anders sing - song deliveries adds to it all, lol.

I'm sure the Irish accent was Welles' idea of adding  another layer and being a "clever" actor. If he would have canned that and kept Rita in long tresses I would like it more. As is she looks like a platinum blonde clone of Mary Astor on a bad day.

 

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

if anyone would like to see ORSON'S EGO RUN FULL AMOK, I highly recommend this recording of THE CAMPBELL PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, an adaptation of the AGATHA CHRISTIE novel costarring EDNA MAY OLIVER.

Welles plays both HERCULE POIROT and THE MURDERER, in the process putting on both ENGLISH and BELGIAN accents.

(To be fair, he's actually pretty good, I think)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

On a personal level, I'm fine with THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI- and I like the visuals very very much.

I think it is safe to say that this film was born out of FRUSTRATION with STUPID PEOPLE IN HOLLYWOOD- it was WELLES lashing out over every time a film was taken away from him and re-cut, or mis-marketed or for every idea he had that was shot down because "it wouldn't play in the sticks."

It's a well-lit, well-shot, DEEP FOCUS MIDDLE FINGER, and I have to respect that.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TomJH said:

I suspect this shot of Flynn and his wife and the Welleses (is that the correct spelling?) together on the Zaca while shooting the film is the closest you will ever get to finding Errol.

So nice that Errol brought his daughter along for the ... wait (sputter), his WHAT?

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

So nice that Errol brought his daughter along for the ... wait (sputter), his WHAT?

Flynn was about 38 at the time while his wife was 23. But as he got older his women got younger.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, while certainly not among the best of Welles' work, is still quite interesting to watch.

As already mentioned, it's fascinating from a technical point of view, although it's true that none of the characters are people I would want to know in real life.

CITIZEN KANE, though considered a classic by many (including myself) in today's world, had been a box-office failure at the time of the release. Had it been a blockbuster, would the studios have kept on trying to interfere with Welles' visions in his other movies, or let him have free reign?

His later films might have turned out to be either much, much better or much, much worse if he had been allowed total control of his film projects. Alas, we will never know.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

I'm glad you're learning to like film noir movies, Hoganman.  Of course there's a huge range of character, story, and themes in noir ( as in all films) and we can't be expected to like them all the same.

But as for "sometimes you just have to accept some flaws", I'm not sure what you mean by that.  There's no question that if you like a film, you're quite willing to overlook whatever "flaws" it may have.  There are all kinds of movies - noir and otherwise -  that are deeply flawed that I love.  But it's also true that we all have very visceral responses to films sometimes, and when that happens, no amount of rationalizing that we should like the movie in question, and therefore by sheer force of will we 'll simply overlook its "flaws" and come to like it, will work.

I'm probably being way too over-analytical on your statement there;  I think you just meant, despite those points about "The Lady from Shanghai" you mention that you didn't like  (Orson Welles' unconvincing Irish accent, Rita Hayworth's unflattering hair style), you still enjoyed the movie.  But for me, as I tried to express in my earlier post about it,  I really don't like this film, on a visceral level  -- as I mentioned before, the seemingly endless cruise, the unpleasant pointless bickering between all the characters involved,  the unfathomable characters of Elsa, her husband, and his partner  - I could go on.  The point is, it's just not an engaging or enjoyable film for me in any way (save for those two spectacular scenes I talked about before, which really are beautifully cinematic and visually memorable),  and my dislike of it goes beyond just overlooking a few flaws.

Sorry if I'm over-reacting, again, I think you made your comment in all good will, and you probably weren't expecting such a strong disagreement with your innocuous remark. I guess I just wanted to make it clear that I have no problem giving films that are "flawed" a pass if I like them.  And again, it was not because of this one's convoluted plot that I disliked it.

Someone  once said that everyone is entitled to an opinion. I merely expressed mine on TLFS.  While your opinion is different and, as you pointed out at great length; probably better than mine, it doesn't make mine wrong.  Let's agree to disagree and leave it at that. Frankly, I tend to agree with you most of the time which is why I added the "with all do respect" phrase.

By the way, I don't think there's anything one could do to Rita Hayworth to make her less attractive.  She is rapidly moving into my top tier of favorite classic actresses with Natalie, Audrey and Grace.

Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

CITIZEN KANE, though considered a classic by many (including myself) in today's world, had been a box-office failure at the time of the release. Had it been a blockbuster, would the studios kept trying to interfere with Welles' visions in his other movies, or let him have free reign?

 

Yes.

I don't think there's hardly anyone working in HOLLYWOOD- then or now- who has not had something of theirs SNATCHED from them and MANGLED by a studio.

see: Gangs of New York

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

Well, Michael O'Hara is supposed to be considerably younger than Bannister and Grisby, so in that respect Welles fit the part  (I think he was 31  when the movie was shot.)  Although he's not classically handsome, and you can already see the beginning of the extra weight he carried in later life,  he was not nearly old enough nor unattractive enough to play Bannister or Grisby.

I do agree, however, that another actor would have made a better O'Hara. As you suggest, John Garfield would have been perfect.

True, not without some makeup anyway, MissW.

But, considering just a few years prior he pulled off the role of a middle-aged man and one much older than his own actual age at the time in convincing fashion and by use of some skillfully applied makeup...

citizen-kane.png

...I think him playing either Bannister or Grisby wouldn't have been totally out of the question.

(...not to mention Orson was always far better and much more believable at playing the more odious and intelligent schemer sort of characters as were both Bannister and Grisby)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

I like it (not love it) for being bizarre and macabre, I don't like any of the characters either, don't like the stupid Welles Irish accent, but do like the weird visuals and also its audios. One wonders if it might had more background on Rosalie in the original material shot that got edited and that would have made her more interesting. Glen Anders sing - song deliveries adds to it all, lol.

I'm sure the Irish accent was Welles' idea of adding  another layer and being a "clever" actor. If he would have canned that and kept Rita in long tresses I would like it more. As is she looks like a platinum blonde clone of Mary Astor on a bad day.

 

Funny, but speaking of the "audios" here, in many scenes in TLFS I noticed what obviously were later applied overdubs of the dialogue and thus contributing to what seemed a rather weird cadence to how some of the dialogue was spoken by the actors in many scenes. It even started to remind me of the audio portion in Orson's Touch of Evil.

(...and the only thing about his later masterpiece which has always lessened my enjoyment of it to a slight degree)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

[tangent to follow]

you know, it's funny- in real life I am a VERY PASSIONATE ARTISTIC PERSON and one of the mediums in which I work is GARDENING- which is admittedly, a finite and confounding medium in which to work, because, without fail, whatever work I do will almost always be undone with time...(especially since global warming has changed the local environment.)

and I have had the unfortunate experience in recent years of seeing almost all of my work destroyed- I worked on some houses at the beach for years, the owners sold them and the new people came in and LITERALLY RAZED EVERYTHING- tore out trees, bushes, perennial beds- things that had been SO BEAUTIFUL in years before [literal years of watering and trimming).  I've also done some work downtown in our historical district- which is run by MORONS who have on one occasion planted LIVE OAK TREES in the MIDDLE OF A BED OF STUNNING LANTANA and IRISES without my consent [thus ensuring they would be shaded out] and who last year planted a dogwood tree in my front yard TWO ****ING FEET** AWAY FROM ONE I HAD PLANTED A YEAR BEFORE. I had to dig the one i had planted and cared for  up and move it, in fact, because there was no way the two trees were not going to crowd one another out. [and it is on the property between the sidewalk and the street, which in actuality belongs to the city even if it MY front yard, so they can do this **** and get away with it.)

and it's heartbreaking to see it done to your work and in those latter two cases, I WENT NUCLEAR....names WERE called, MIDDLE FINGERS WERE MOST DEFINITELY FLIPPED.

SO, to bring it around the elbow to get to the ****- I KNOW HOW ORSON FELT, to work so hard on, say TOUCH OF EVIL or AMBERSONS and have it STOLEN FROM HIM and a big, stupid (figurative) OAK TREE PLANTED RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS STUNNING LANTANA WHERE ANY IDIOT COULD SEE IT DID NOT BELONG.

Personally, were I given the chance to lash out in a way similar to the way ORSON does with THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, honey, you know I would.

There are truly fewer things MORE DISRESPECTFUL than tampering with an artists work- WHEN THAT ARTIST CLEARLY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

 

**you read that right- TWO FEET, TWENTY FOUR INCHES AWAY. Hold out your hands at home and measure that.  ANY IDIOT knows you plant trees AT LEAST 10 FEET APART- and in most cases EVEN MORE THAN THAT.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

[tangent to follow]

you know, it's funny- in real life I am a VERY PASSIONATE ARTISTIC PERSON and one of the mediums in which I work is GARDENING- which is admittedly, a finite and confounding medium in which to work, because, without fail, whatever work I do will almost always be undone with time...(especially since global warming has changed the local environment.)

and I have had the unfortunate experience in recent years of seeing almost all of my work destroyed- I worked on some houses at the beach for years, the owners sold them and the new people came in and LITERALLY RAZED EVERYTHING- tore out trees, bushes, perennial beds- things that had been SO BEAUTIFUL in years before [literal years of watering and trimming).  I've also done some work downtown in our historical district- which is run by MORONS who have on one occasion planted LIVE OAK TREES in the MIDDLE OF A BED OF STUNNING LANTANA and IRISES without my consent [thus ensuring they would be shaded out] and who last year planted a dogwood tree in my front yard TWO ****ING FEET** AWAY FROM ONE I HAD PLANTED A YEAR BEFORE. I had to dig the one i had planted and cared for  up and move it, in fact, because there was no way the two trees were not going to crowd one another out. [and it is on the property between the sidewalk and the street, which in actuality belongs to the city even if it MY front yard, so they can do this **** and get away with it.)

and it's heartbreaking to see it done to your work and in those latter two cases, I WENT NUCLEAR....names WERE called, MIDDLE FINGERS WERE MOST DEFINITELY FLIPPED.

SO, to bring it around the elbow to get to the ****- I KNOW HOW ORSON FELT, to work so hard on, say TOUCH OF EVIL or AMBERSONS and have it STOLEN FROM HIM and a big, stupid (figurative) OAK TREE PLANTED RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS STUNNING LANTANA WHERE ANY IDIOT COULD SEE IT DID NOT BELONG.

Personally, were I given the chance to lash out in a way similar to the way ORSON does with THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, honey, you know I would.

There are truly fewer things MORE DISRESPECTFUL than tampering with an artists work- WHEN THAT ARTIST CLEARLY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING.

 

**you read that right- TWO FEET, TWENTY FOUR INCHES AWAY. Hold out your hands at home and measure that.  ANY IDIOT knows you plant trees AT LEAST 10 FEET APART- and in most cases EVEN MORE THAN THAT.

Sorry,  but it wasn't YOUR work;   that is the point here,  isn't it?    Both Orson and you knew that from the start;  I.e. that the amount of control,  ownership,  and even influence over THE work by YOU,  was limited.     

As for disrespectful;  I'm going to flip that;    Is there anything MORE DISRESPECTFUL than someone using other people's money and NOT expecting them to so call 'tamper' with THEIR product?   What THEY paid for?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well it didn't take long for this to go off the rails. It appears all forms of social media  eventually turn into arguments.  That includes even ones as benign as this one.  I think I'll take a little break from reading and posting here. I watch TCM to get away from all that is happening in the US and the world today. If I want to hear people arguing, I can always go to cable news.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
© 2020 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...