A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Michael O'Hara, against his better judgement, hires on as a crew member of Arthur Bannister's yacht, sailing to San Francisco. They pick up Grisby, Bannister's law partner, en route. Bannister has a wife, Rosalie, who seems to like Michael much better than she likes her husband. After they dock in Sausalito, Michael goes along with Grisby's weird plan to fake his (Grisby's) murder so he can disappear untailed. He wants the $5000 Grisby has offered, so he can run off with Rosalie. But Grisby turns up actually murdered, and Michael gets blamed for it. Somebody set him up, but it is not clear who or how. Bannister (the actual murderer?) defends Michael in court. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to Orson Welles, this film grew out of an act of pure desperation. Welles, whose Mercury Theatre company produced a musical version of "Around the World in 80 Days," was in desperate need of money just before the Boston preview. Mere hours before the show was due to open, the costumes had been impounded and unless Welles could come up with $55,000 to pay outstanding debts, the performance would have to be canceled. Stumbling upon a copy of "If I Die Before I Wake," the novel upon which this film is based, Welles phoned Harry Cohn, instructing him to buy the rights to the novel and offering to write, direct and star in the film so long as Cohn would send $55,000 to Boston within two hours. The money arrived, and the production went on as planned. See more »
At the beach picnic, whilst O'Hara is talking to Bannister recounting the shark story, we see Bannister continually swinging back and forth in a hammock, but in a couple of shots from different angles, the hammock is suddenly completely stationary, then suddenly back to a swinging motion. See more »
Welles' camera seemed almost to caress Rita Hayworth...
After all, you do not go to an Orson Welles movie to see a nice simple little plot and a burnishing of the image of a happy-ever-after star
You go to see theatrically heightened characters locked in conflict against colorful and unusual settings, lighted and scored imaginatively, photographed bravely, and the whole thing peppered with unexpected details of surprise that a wiser and duller director would either avoid or not think of in the first place
As usual, as well as directing, Welles wrote the script and he also played the hero a young Irish seaman who had knocked about the world and seen its evil, but still retained his clear-eyed trust in the goodness of others Unfortunately for him, he reposed this trust in Rita Hayworth, whose cool good looks concealed a gloomy past and murderous inclinations for the future She was married without love, to an impotent, crippled advocate, acted like a malevolent lizard by the brilliant Everett Sloane
There is a youthful romanticism underlying it all, and this quality came into exuberant play in "The Lady from Shanghai." Before the inevitable happened, Welles escaped to a final triangular showdown in a hall of mirrors, which has become one of the classic scenes of the post-war cinema
Welles did not miss a chance throughout the whole film to counterpoint the words and actions with visual detail which enriched the texture and heightened the atmosphere His camera seemed almost to caress Rita Hayworth as the sun played with her hair and her long limbs while she playfully teased the young seaman into her web
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