The Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai is a classic noir film, released in 1947, starring Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. It’s melodramatic but probably not quite as straightforwardly so as this trailer suggests. It doesn’t have much to do with Shanghai, but the title no doubt carried connotations of sexuality and decadence that American audiences of the period associated with that city.

Welles plays a sailor who is enticed to help navigate a yacht through Panama to San Francisco. The yacht is owned by a couple (Everett Sloane and Hayworth) who have recently returned from Shanghai. The plot soon becomes far too tangled for me to summarize.

The film is notable for a shootout in a hall of funhouse mirrors. Also, San Franciscans who remember the old Academy of Sciences will enjoy a scene shot in the aquarium there — this is where the scandalous kiss occurs that is mentioned in the trailer.

Among the themes of the Shanghai exhibition are the roles and perceptions of women in the first half of the twentieth century. This brief trailer speaks volumes about some of attitudes of the time as reflected in movies from Hollywood.

3 Responses to “The Lady from Shanghai

  1. duriandave  on January 12th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Another San Francisco landmark in the film is the Chinese theater where Orson and Rita meet during an opera performance. It’s the old Mandarin Theatre on Grant Avenue, nowadays known as the Sun Sing Center, home to DVD and souvenir stalls. I shopped there for years without realizing it was the theater in Lady from Shanghai. Anyway, it’s fun to check out and imagine what it used to be like back then.

  2. xensen  on January 12th, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    That’s very interesting, duriandave, thanks!

  3. nico  on January 12th, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Orson Welles with an Irish accent.
    Rita Hayworth speaking Shanghainese.
    Plot twists and double-crosses.

    Probably one of my favorite SF-related films.

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