Hayworth's Blonde Ambition
With his Irish charm, Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) spots the champagne blonde Rosalie (Rita Hayworth) riding in a carriage and chances his arm by offering her a smoke. Shortly after he comes to her rescue and before he knows it he is being offered a job on the yacht owned by her disabled husband Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane) a renowned lawyer. Bemused by this cruise up the coast, the other crew, George Grisby (Glenn Anders) Bannister's business partner as well as the seductive Rosalie Michael finds himself with an unusual proposition. Grisby wants Michael's help to fake his own death so he can vanish but then Grisby shows up dead Michael finds himself accused of the murder and needing Rosalie's husband to defend him.
If you read that synopsis for "The Lady from Shanghai" or others which you can find online it makes it easy to understand with Michael ending up a Patsy, set up for a murder. The thing is that "The Lady from Shanghai" ends up such a messy movie that it will take you a while to work out what is going on. And I say mess because many say that whilst making this movie Orson Welles had various things on his mind from his failing marriage to Rita Hayworth to understanding who he was and once you realise that you can sort of see the issues he was dealing with manifesting themselves in the movie.
What do I mean? Well "The Lady from Shanghai" has loads of beautiful, creative cinematography from the use of a building's rough edges to create interesting shadows to some interesting tracking shots especially when focussing on the character of Rosalie whilst sunbathing. But then in the midst of these there are some less than flattering close ups which look like they have been added later on, filmed in front of a screen and almost done in such a rough manner that you wonder whether Welles had tired of the movie.
Having said that the awkwardness of these scenes add to the curious nature of "The Lady from Shanghai" as is the appearance of Rita Hayworth who had her trademark flame hair cut short and dyed champagne blonde. Hayworth certainly looks startling with short hair and she does a great job of making Rosalie one minute blonde and breathless then the next a lot more dangerous. But this is the same with all of the characters as they all seem to have a touch of the split personality going on which makes them interesting yet also confusing.
What this all boils down to is that "The Lady from Shanghai" ends up a curiously uneven movie which whilst entertaining is not a great movie. In fact I get a strong feeling that those who would get the most out of "The Lady from Shanghai" are those as interesting is Orson Welles as a man rather that those looking to be entertained.