The Lady from Shanghai

Director: Orson Welles
Screenwriters: Sherwood King, Orson Welles

Institute History

  • 1986 Sundance Film Festival


Despite (or perhaps because of) its inscrutable logic (baffling its characters as well as its viewers), The Lady From Shanghai remains among the most baroque and fascinating examples of film noir. Rita Hayworth stars as Elsa Bannister who, as the “lady from Shanghai” with a murky, better-left-unsaid past, combines beauty, mystery and murder. With her husband Arthur Bannister (Sloane), a brilliant but grotesquely crippled trial lawyer, she has designs on Michael O’Hara, a Black Irish stevedore played by Welles. Visually mesmerizing, even hallucinogenic at times, The Lady From Shanghai shifts scenery from urban shadows to the lush tropics of the Caribbean, from San Francisco’s Chinatown to a brilliantly crazed final sequence in an abandoned amusement park’s hall of mirrors, where the Bannisters and O’Hara confront each other for the final shootout.

Screening Details

  • Section: Orson Welles Remembered, Chimes at Night
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 87 min.
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