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The Lady from Shanghai

Orson Welles’ celebrated noir-thriller dazzlingly restored, with femme fatale Rita Hayworth famously reflected in a surreal hall of mirrors.


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  • Director-Screenwriter-Producer Orson Welles
  • With Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Ted de Corsia
  • USA 1947
  • 87 mins
  • UK distribution Park Circus

In financial chaos, with his critical reputation ebbing, and his marriage to Rita Hayworth floundering, Orson Welles was grateful to accept Columbia boss Harry Cohn’s surprising offer to direct an adaptation of R Sherwood King’s 1938 thriller If I Die Before I Wake, with Hayworth as co-star. In a noir thriller of labyrinthine entanglement, Welles portrays an Irish sailor who accompanies a beautiful woman and her husband on a sea cruise and becomes entwined in a murder plot, culminating in one of cinema’s famous finales: Hayworth’s frantic ice-blonde femme fatale surreally reflected in a hall of mirrors – read by some as a comment on the stars’ marriage. ‘Complex, courageous and utterly compelling,’ said Martyn Auty for Time Out, and who can argue with that? This dazzling, eagerly-awaited restoration in digital 4K is by Grover Crisp’s conservation team at Sony Columbia and will receive its world premiere at the LFF.

Clyde Jeavons

Read the Time Out review.

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