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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Movie review in 90 seconds: The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

The Lady From Shanghai (1948)

1 out of 5 Stars

To start off, even the trailer sucks. And that's good, because so does the movie. At least it wasn't misleading.

 No one would ever accuse Everett Sloane of over acting. Of course,  that's because they probably didn't get to the end of the movie to see this half baked scene.
 I have to say,  this might have been a very good movie,  but the first 30 minutes are so awful, I actually stopped watching it.  

I only finished the movie because I read the review on Wikipedia and it looked like it might get better. It didn't.


The title, makes no sense and has no relevance to the film. They could have done better here, but like the rest of this poor movie, they didn't even bother. That is not surprising, considering the reason the movie was made in the first place. All the trouble started there.

From Wikipedia:

In the summer of 1946, Welles was directing a musical stage version of Around the World in Eighty Days, with production by Mike Todd, who would later produce the successful film version with David Niven.
When Todd pulled out from the lavish and expensive production, Welles financed it. When he ran out of money and urgently needed $55,000 to release costumes which were being held, he convinced Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn to send him the money to continue the show and in exchange Welles promised to write, produce, direct and star in a film for Cohn for no further fee.

Yes,  Rita Hayworth was a knockout. Would I kill for her? Not in this movie.

 Orson Welles stars and directs it. I have never been a fan of his,  and this is just another example of how over rated he was.

Orson Welles, staring into the distance, looking for his fake Irish accent. He never found it.

His fake Irish accent was particularly bad. It's so bad, he actually forgets to use it at times.  Too bad he didn't forget to make this awful movie. But then again, he couldn't. He owed the studio this freebie and he made sure he mailed it in.

Rita Hayworth, earning her salary by doing what she did best.

Rita Hayworth was stunning. Too bad she didn't have to actually act in this one. Maybe she could act, but there was no telling in this movie.  She was paid to look alluring and pretty, and she delivered that much.

Glenn Anders. Nice acting "fella".  Not.

Glenn Anders plays the eccentric, crazy, scheming lawyer, partner to the famous husband of the Rita Hayworth character. Anders was an accomplished stage actor, but this was his only significant film role. You can see why. His acting is so way over the top, it is comical to the point of idiotic. I know one thing, if he called me "fella" as many times as he did Welles in this, I would have killed him too.

Welles and Hayworth were actually married,  and their marriage was almost over by the time this film was made. That is obvious in this movie,  as their screen chemistry is awful. I don't believe for a second that they have any real attraction. It looks like they actually hate each other.

-from Wikipedia

The film was considered a disaster in America at the time of its release, though the closing shootout in a hall of mirrors has since become one of the touchstones of film noir. Not long after release, Welles and Hayworth finalized their divorce.

The writing was exceptionally bad, and corny..and contrived.

It was as if you were watching the story and whole parts of the setup to each scene are missing. You think you missed them, but you didn't. They just didn't bother to show them.

The setup for the plot was so poor, you had no idea where they were going.

The character development is so poor, it is shocking. Shocking!

All in all, this is a bad film. 

William Brogdon in his review from Variety in 1948

"Script is wordy and full of holes which need the plug of taut story telling and more forthright action. Rambling style used by Orson Welles has occasional flashes of imagination, particularly in the tricky backgrounds he uses to unfold the yarn, but effects, while good on their own, are distracting to the murder plot. Contributing to the stylized effect stressed by Welles is the photography, which features artful compositions entirely in keeping with the production mood. Plot is often foggy of purpose and confusing to follow.
Welles has called on players for stylized performances. He uses an Irish brogue and others depict erratic characters with little reality. Hayworth isn't called on to do much more than look beautiful. Best break for players goes to Everett Sloane, and he gives a credible interpretation of the crippled criminal attorney."

 This had all the makings of a pretty good film. I am not usually in favor of remakes, but this one,  if re written..and directed in a different way, deserves that.

They remake all sorts of classics, which have been done to perfection and don't need remaking. They should go back, and find movies like this, which could have been very, very good, and upgrade them.
Write the story better. Write the dialogue better. Get better actors. Develop the characters better. Setup the scenes better.

Those are the ones you should remake.

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