The Lady from Shanghai
Cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.
Editing by Viola Lawrence
Art Direction by Sturges Carne and Stephen Goosson
Set Decoration by Wilbur Menefee and Herman N. Schoenbrun
Costume Design by Jean Louis
Music by Heinz Roemheld
Starring Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth,
Everett Sloane, and Glenn Anders
A lot of people make such a big to-do about Orson Welles' first big movie "Citizen Kane" (1940) that this one doesn't seem to get enough respect. While Welles was, from the start, looking to revolutionize Hollywood, it took him a few tries to fully learn the craft and Hollywood grammar. By 1947, however, he had mastered movie-making so well that he could brilliantly mock and subvert Hollywood conventions, simultaneously showcasing the inventive energy that he had already made such a great impact with on stage and radio. Luckily for movie-watchers, that's just what the movie-industry needed at the time: a movie to shake things up, to shock, and prove that art isn't about copying a format, it's about delivering the hope of newness and exposing the trickiness of deceit. It's about the perils of a lazy mind and spirit.
The sound editing, the image editing, the story, the acting, and soundtrack all swirl dizzily, lazily, like sharks in search of blood, until finally the movie picks up steam and becomes a frenzied thriller, making this not only one of the strangest and fantastic movies of the year, but of all time. At the same time, it feels like a rich novel touching powerfully on various social themes of class, employees versus employers, on the definition of a man, on love versus marriage, on the search for truth, and on how we might never know what is true.
All of this is engaging stuff, but it's the ever-shifting settings that keep the motor running, as if we were taking a safari deeper and deeper into some dark and undiscovered psychological jungle. It's also the comedic fluorishes, which are not relieving at all, but instead each so subtly and surprisingly placed, that they heighten the macabre nightmare and make the situation feel more real unto itself. It's such an eccentric movie that I bet even the story of its making would be an interesting story!
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Music by Brian Easdale
Cinematography by Jack Cardiff
Editing by Reginald Mills
Production Design by Alfred Junge
Costume Design by Hein Heckroth
Makeup by George Blackler
Hairstyles by Biddy Chrystal
Starring Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron,
Jean Simmons, Sabu, and Eddie Whaley Jr.
The photography and choreography are beyond compare. The flashback scenes are tremendously filmed, Deborah Kerr is easy to sympathize with, and Kathleen Byron is a mad genius actor! Only a couple actors seem to be miscast, most obviously: David Farrar as Mr. Dean.
What makes this movie immortal is the camera angles, or more specifically, how the camera sometimes catches its subjects so closely as to be inside them and other times so far as if they are falling out of orbit. The lighting, colors, music, art direction, and acting all come together at times to feel like a splendid fairytale, and at others like a contemporary slasher horror-flick! Cumulatively, it feels like a breath-taking Himalayan vacation amongst the most diverse and interesting characters on the planet!
Written by Zoe Akins, Marguerite Roberts,
and Casey Robinson
Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing by Joseph Dervin
Art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Urie McCleary
Starring Robert Mitchum, Greer Garson,
and Richard Hart
Starts with a woman's meeting with a psychologist, then turns into a war movie, then to a romantic drama, and finally to a thriller, before reverting back to the psychologist's prescription. It's this blatant disregard for the convential boundaries of genre that makes it such a daring movie. It's also the fact that there aren't any loose ends left hanging. Instead, we are shown that happy endings are not simple affairs but rather take time, emotional healing, therapy, and a lot of reflection.
The production of this movie was famously difficult resulting in multiple directors, injuries, and ultimately, box-office failure. Most injustly, the movie still receives poor reviews by a majority of critics, most likely this is an example of negative hype of the long-lasting kind. Thankfully, we're talking about movies, and the nature of movies is that, theoretically, they are always available for re-viewing and re-evaluation.
Written by Daniel Mainwaring
Produced by Warren Duff
Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca
Art direction by Albert S. D'Agostino and Jack Okey
Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer,
Kirk Douglas, Dickie Moore, Rhonda Fleming,
and Virginia Huston