PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Lady From Shanghai (ViaVision) (1947)

The Lady From Shanghai (ViaVision) (1947) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 6-May-2020

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Film-Noir Introduction-by Robert Osborne (2:38)
Audio Commentary-by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich
Gallery-Photo and Poster Galleries
Audio-Only Audio Podcast (30:01)
Trivia-TCMDb Article on The Lady from Shanghai
Biographies-Crew-Orson Welles Biography
Featurette-Comments on the film by Eddie Muller (film noir expert)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1947
Running Time 87:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Orson Welles

Starring Orson Welles
Rita Hayworth
Everett Sloane
Glenn Anders
Ted de Corsia
Case ?
RPI ? Music Heinz Roemheld

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Seaman Michael “Black Irish” O’Hara (Orson Welles) saves a beautiful woman from a mugging in Central Park. She turns out to be Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth), the wife of top criminal defence lawyer Arthur Bannister (Everett Sloane). The next day the Bannisters are leaving New York on their yacht to sail to San Francisco and Arthur turns up at the Seaman’s Exchange to hire Michael to sail with them. Michael is very reluctant, but he is already entranced by Elsa so ends up agreeing to sign on. Also on the voyage are Arthur’s sleazy business partner George Grisby (Glenn Anders) and Sidney Broome (Ted De Corsia), who we later discover is a private detective Arthur has hired to watch Elsa.

     The yacht sails through the Caribbean and the Panama Canal and up to Acapulco in Mexico. Michael tries to resist Elsa but fails; he wants her to run away with him. While in Mexico Michael receives a startling proposition and told to think about it; he is offered $5,000 by Grisby to pretend to murder him. When the yacht arrives in San Francisco, plots, betrays and double crosses occur, people are indeed killed and Michael finds himself arrested and on trial for his life for murder, defended by Arthur. But the betrayals, and deaths, are not quite completed.

     The Lady from Shanghai had a rather checkered shoot, production and post-production. Welles as writer, producer, director and actor was apparently writing script pages as they went along and going way over the budget he had agreed with Columbia chief Harry Cohen. It was Cohen who insisted that Rita Hayworth, Welles’ estranged wife and the most popular Columbia female star, be in the picture, and indeed she receives top billing. Welles, perhaps in a push back to Cohen and Rita’s glamorous image, had her trademark long red hair cropped short and dyed blonde and did not shoot any close-ups of Rita on location; any close-ups of her now in the picture where filmed at Cohen’s insistence after the production had returned to California. Welles’s original rough cut ran 155 minutes, but the studio cut it back to the current 87 minutes for release. They also changed the sound effects and used music by Heinz Roemheld that Welles disliked and added a song for Rita (again dubbed by Anita Ellis) Please Don’t Kiss Me against the wishes of Welles. Not surprisingly Welles disliked the film and the box office when The Lady from Shanghai was finally released two years after filming left a lot to be desired and was Rita’s first box office failure.

     And yet, The Lady from Shanghai remains a fascinating film to watch, a film noir about wealth, greed and corruption complete with double crosses and triple crosses, manipulation, a beautiful woman, a chump way in over his head, a voiceover, light, darkness and shadow and a classic shattering climax in a hall of mirrors. This may be Welles’ picture, but nothing can stop Rita Hayworth from looking gorgeous in dresses or a black swimsuit, and she does get the chance to act, turning in one of the best dramatic performances. Indeed, under Welles’ direction all the major actors are excellent; Welles himself despite a dodgy “Irish” accent, Everett Sloane in crutches, his mind as crippled as his body, while a grinning, manipulative, sleazy and profusely sweating Glenn Anders is superb, and indeed gets more close-ups than Hayworth!

     I have read a number of comments to the effect that The Lady from Shanghai (loosely based on the novel If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King) is overly complex and does not make a lot of sense. The film is certainly complex, with layers upon layers, crosses, double crosses and triple crosses in the final act, but it is certainly not incomprehensible or unintelligible. It may have been easier to understand in Welles’ original cut of the film although, as it is Welles, that is not a given! In any case, one can chose to enjoy the snappy dialogue, the shady characters and the visuals including the yacht, the Mexican locations, the innovative way Welles shoots the courtroom sequences and finally the shattering climax in the hall of mirrors. The result is that The Lady from Shanghai is never less than intriguing, a beautifully shot film noir that cannot help but keep your attention until the final fade out.

     The Lady from Shanghai may not have been appreciated on its release, but it has since become recognised as an essential and influential part of film noir; the scores on, critics 82%, audience 85%, reflect its stature today.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


     The Lady from Shanghai is a black and white film presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC and not 16x9 enhanced.

     For DVD this is an impressive presentation. I did not see any marks or artefacts and while long shots of the yacht at sea or the Chinese opera performance can be softer, detail during the rest of the film was strong showing, for example, every bead of sweat on the characters’ faces. Blacks and shadow detail were very good, the hall of mirrors sequence with blacks, mirrors and shattering glass finely detailed. Grain is nicely controlled, grey scales good throughout although there is occasional slight variations in contrast.

     No subtitles are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.

     The dialogue is easy to hear. Effects are not extensive but they include the crowds in sequences in Mexico and at the picnic. Gunshots are loud and together with the smashing of mirrors are very effective in the climax. The music of Heinz Roemheld that Welles referred to as “Disney music” comes over loud and clear.

     There was no hiss or crackle.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     This DVD has all the extras that were on the local Blu-ray release of the film.

Introduction by Robert Osborne (2:38)

     Osborne, host of TCM, introduces the film talking about Welles’ reputation and money troubles and the issues between Welles and Cohen.

Audio Commentary by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich

     Author and director Peter Bogdanovich first met Orson Welles in 1968 and later wrote a biography of Welles. He admires Welles and quotes from conversations they had about a wide range of topics including Welles’ views about life, his techniques, his legacy and his ideas so that this commentary is often more Welles than The Lady from Shanghai although Bogdanovich does quote from a memo Welles sent to Columbia chief Harry Cohen about the film. Bogdanovich also touches on Cohen, Rita, Glenn Anders, the yacht and the influence of the film but this is really his memories of Welles.

Photo and Poster Galleries

     A wide range of stills and posters in five different sections. In each section the stills advance automatically or you can use the remote to advance. The sections are: Audio Podcast (30:01)

     An audio podcast originally broadcast as an episode of Out of the Past; Investigating Film Noir by Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards. The podcast does not discuss the making of The Lady from Shanghai as such but is more about the influence of the film on later noir films, its themes, conventions and the structure of noir, the dialogue and the language of the film, the complex plot and structure of the film, Hayworth’s blonde hair, the acting and the characters.

TCMDb Article on The Lady from Shanghai

     21 silent text screens, use the remote to advance to the next screen. Includes some succinct and forthright information about issues to do with the filming, music, editing and release of the film.

Orson Welles Biography

    11 silent text screens.

Comments by Eddie Muller (film noir expert)

     Muller’s comments are in three sections, each one must be selected from the menu individually:

    An Epic Noir Poem (2:33): Muller warns that The Lady from Shanghai should not be viewed as a traditional narrative film because if you do it is not going to make sense.

     Back Story (12:58): The legends of how the film came about, the casting of Rita Hayworth, anecdotes about the crazy shoot on board Errol Flynn’s yacht in Mexico.

     It’s Film Noir Distilled (4:52): Why The Lady from Shanghai continues to be fascinating and compelling to this day, despite its flaws.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Lady from Shanghai was released in Australia a couple of decades ago on DVD and more recently on Blu-ray (our review is here). The film is also available in other regions on Blu-ray as well as both stand-alone DVDs and as part of various collections. Our DVD release has the same extras as the Blu-ray released here and is part of The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection, which collection itself forms part of The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection. See the summary section below.


     Any film of Orson Welles is worth watching. But when the female lead is the stunningly beautiful Rita Hayworth in full on femme fatale mode surrounded by shady characters, exotic locations, betrayals, double crosses and a chump ready to be manipulated, The Lady from Shanghai becomes a film that is essential viewing for fans of film noir, Welles or Hayworth.

     The video is very good for a 70 year old film, the audio is the original mono. The extras are worthwhile. Fans of Hayworth, Welles or film noir would most likely already have the film, but its inclusion in this The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection is a bonus for those fans who don’t.

     The Lady from Shanghai is included in the 12 disc / 12 film set The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection. The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection itself comprises the The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection and the The Films of Rita Hayworth Collection Two. Both of these individual Collection packs have been available previously.

     The Films of Rita Hayworth Platinum Collection was supplied for review by ViaVision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE