The Lady from Shanghai
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The Lady From Shanghai, a complex, involving puzzle-within-a-puzzle mystery story, is a showcase for Orson Welles, showing his singular talents and sensibilities as few other films have. The story is superficially simple: a seaman Michael O'Hara (Welles) is hired as a crew member on the yacht of the wealthy Banister (Everett Sloane). His beautiful but mysterious wife Elsa (Rita Hayworth) has met O'Hara earlier, when he saved her from a mugging. What ensues is a complicated and bizarre pattern of deception, fraud and murder, with O'Hara finding himself implicated in a murder,… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A magnificent mess of switchbacks and revelations, climaxing with one of cinema's most outrageously inventive sequences."
‑ Tom Huddleston, Time Out
"For all the violations it suffered, The Lady From Shanghai seems strangely coherent in its extant form -- or rather, coherently incoherent, and in a way that seems quite deliberate."
‑ Calum Marsh, Village Voice
"The storyline is almost incidental to the disorientating inventiveness of The Lady from Shanghai."
‑ Eithne Farry, Electric Sheep
"The plot's pleasingly convoluted, the performances amusingly varied, the mood sinisterly sustained. But the set-pieces are the work of a genius."
‑ David Parkinson, Empire Magazine
"Welles' dazzling direction more than makes up for any lack of viewer understanding."
‑ Kevin Harley, Total Film
"The climax, a shootout in a funhouse hall of mirrors, is one of the bravura sequences in all film, a triumph of hey-look-at-me form over just-the-facts content."
‑ Mark Feeney, Boston Globe
"Welles and Hayworth were married at the time; he gives her closeups of unmatched rapture even while allegorizing his own fate as a free spirit caught in the trap of Hollywood's delusional pleasure dome."
‑ Richard Brody, New Yorker
"The film is as tangled and ingenious as any of Welles's conjuring tricks. The shoot-out in the hall of mirrors is the most famous sequence, but there are other moments just as memorable."
‑ Geoffrey Macnab, Independent
"Time proves this to be insanely ambitious and batty in the best sense."
‑ Glenn Heath Jr., Little White Lies
"It derives its tension from its almost pointed meaninglessness, which would appear to be a subterfuge for a personal expression that's never quite achieved."
‑ Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
"Be warned: This is a film that collects obsessives."
‑ Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"Script is wordy and full of holes which need the plug of taut story telling and more forthright action."
‑ William Brogdon, Variety
"It has an irresistible energy."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"The hall-of-mirrors shootout finale is a canonic classic."
‑ Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
"Given Welles's reputation as an embattled genius and the fact that much of Shanghai is superb, this is a film you really want to like. And one might, were Welles's performance not so wretched."
‑ , Film4
More reviews for The Lady from Shanghai on Rotten Tomatoes