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The Lady from Shanghai

"Hardly anyone seems to have noticed that Lady From Shanghai is one of Orson Welles' very best films. Perhaps the standard murder-mystery framework, or the apparent accessiblity of the thematic material make the film seem simplistic - but every frame of this complex adventure carries the stamp of a master film-maker working at the top of his form. Starting with a plot and a cast of characters worthy of Raymond Chandler, Welles raises the stakes at every turn; by the end, Lady From Shanghai has become a full-scale Morality on the subject of money-as-poison. The pyrotechnic hall-of-mirrors shootout that brings the film to its conclusion is a visual metaphor of extraordinary depth - but it would be little more than a technical showpiece if the entire film weren't equally as resonant. For once, Welles plays a wholly sympathetic character, and Rita Hayworth gives a surprisingly fine performance as a wealthy femme fatale. Structurally, philosophically, cinematically - Lady From Shanghai is a tour de force."

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