Lady from Shanghai [1947]

Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Legend has it that Orson Welles more or less conned studio boss Harry Cohn over the phone into making this movie by grabbing the title from a nearby paperback. In any case, The Lady from Shanghai is one of Welles's most fascinating works, a bizarre tale of an Irish sailor (Welles) who accompanies a beautiful woman (Rita Hayworth) and her handicapped husband (Everett Sloane) on a cruise and becomes involved in a murder plot. But never mind all that (the aforementioned legend also claims that Cohn offered a reward to anyone who could explain the plot to him). The film is really a dream of Welles's driving preoccupations on- and offscreen at the time: the elusiveness of identity, the mystique of things lost, and most of all the director's faltering marriage to Hayworth. In the tradition of male filmmakers who indirectly tell the story of their love affairs with leading ladies, Welles tells his own, photographing Hayworth as a deconstructed star, an obvious cinematic creation, thus reflecting, perhaps, a never-satisfied yearning that leads us back to the mystery of Citizen Kane. --Tom Keogh

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