Precious Bodily Fluids

The Lady from Shanghai

LadyShanghai4

The captain and her mate

Orson Welles’ last directorial foray in mainstream Hollywood before taking a much-needed break progressively toys and experiments with the medium as the narrative saunters toward its wonderfully shattered ending. The Lady from Shanghai foreshadows Touch of Evil in many ways but differs in its psychedelic nature, which is an interesting twist since the film focuses on a Gilda-like trio of individuals that Welles’ character compares to a group of hungry sharks. The journey into fractured subjectivity works first of all on a level that transcends language. Welles’ trademark, like his French counterpart Jean Renoir, is to elevate cinema to its own aesthetic form; why say with cinema what could more easily be said with mere words? Because of this element in The Lady from Shanghai, the film at times feels directionless from a style point-of-view. The disintegration of the marriage in the film apparently coincided with that of Welles and Rita Hayworth outside of it. Cinephiles in a way should be thankful for this. Instead of exploiting Rita’s Rita-ness, Welles chops off her hair, dyes it, and identifies her with a ferocious carnivore. The aloofness of Welles’ character, and his willingness to ride the tide of his new cronies and participate in a highly dubious scheme, effectively keeps the film within the broad category of “film noir” while expanding its parameters at the same time via aesthetics. And btw, the shameless Orientalism of this film has to be mentioned. It exists at every level.

Above...

Above...

...below

...below

Lovely Rita

Lovely Rita

Vicious

Vicious

Orientalism

Orientalism

Seeing double

Seeing double

Advertisements
This entry was published on September 10, 2009 at 10:39 am. It’s filed under 1940s Cinema, American film, Orson Welles and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “The Lady from Shanghai

  1. You’ve a fantastic blog, the movie selection is really great!!

    Greetings!

  2. Hey, thanks. I’ve enjoyed yours as well, via Google’s web page translation function.

  3. Pingback: Play it Again: The Limits of Control « Precious Bodily Fluids

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: