The Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai ★★★★

The first ten minutes feel awfully rushed. It then becomes apparent that speed is a device to build momentum, and momentum is a tool to get us past a host of contrivances. Also the studio made Welles cut a bunch. It doesn't matter, because that final funhouse sequence is the best use of mirrors in cinema and the dialogue on the yacht is as sharp as those shattered mirrors. I understand Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow much better now: acidic rich people on a boat was surely an homage to this.

It's also fascinatingly political. Welles' Michael O'Hara is a union man, manipulated by the wealthy. In the courtroom scene, Welles is blatantly mocking the law. This is a noir that's not only aware of class, it's willing to take a side.

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