Lady from Shanghai, The (1947)

The Lady from Shanghai (1947), written, produced and directed by Orson Welles.


My shark had torn himself from the hook, and the scent, or maybe the stain it was, and him bleeding his life away drove the rest of them mad. Then the beasts began to eat each other. In their frenzy, they ate at themselves. You could feel the lust of murder like a wind stinging your eyes, and you could smell the death, reeking up out of the sea. I never saw anything worse...

Until this little picnic tonight.

A quirky thriller. We get fragments and glimpses of a story -- does the plot actually make sense in the end? -- but are mostly off-balance and as confused as our main character. He's intrigued by a beautiful woman and wants to protect her, but she's married and he doesn't want to get mixed up in that. He's crewing a yacht for people he finds contemptible -- he tells them so -- but he's also afraid of them.

As always, when someone asks you to "pretend" to murder them: run! Otherwise you'll find yourself enduring a bizarrely farcical courtroom drama and a graphically wondrous shootout among the funhouse mirrors at the amusement park.

Misc notes:

The Blu-ray is from the TCM Vault Collection. I'm seeing only intermittent hidef detail; the video itself is only 13GB. No subtitles.

The commentary track by Peter Bogdanovich is not really attached to the film as it plays, and he often inserts himself: "I said this, and then Orson said that, and then I said something else..." Still: he gives a lot of production details and inside stories. Welles called himself a "congenital amateur" in movie-making. And: "I never understood women."