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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
3:10 p.m. The Lady from Shanghai
Orson Welles (US, 1948)

Lecture/Emily Carpenter

Welles turned a mediocre novel into a brilliant film by overturning all the expectations of the crime thriller. Although the film remains an absorbing intrigue—the story of a murder plan that unfolds as a yacht makes its luxurious way along the Pacific—every scene is a showcase for Welles’s cinematic inventiveness, and the whole adds up to a significant statement on the evils of money lust. Welles pulled off a coup by casting himself as a totally sympathetic character, an Irish sailor with humanitarian politics who becomes a pawn in the game of the greedy rich.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Welles, based on the novel Before I Die by Sherwood King. Photographed by Charles Lawton, Jr. With Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders. (87 mins, B&W, DCP, From Sony Pictures Repertory)