Arts & Entertainment

When Orson Welles ran afoul of a shady ‘Lady’

Orson Welles cast his soon-to-be ex-wife Rita Hayworth — as a blonde — in the title role.
Orson Welles cast his soon-to-be ex-wife Rita Hayworth — as a blonde — in the title role.Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

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THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI

The story behind “The Lady from Shanghai” (1947) is nearly as outlandish as the movie. A digital restoration of Orson Welles’s film plays at the Brattle from Friday through Sunday.

Even better than its back story is its finish. The climax, a shootout in a funhouse hall of mirrors, is one of the bravura sequences in all film, a triumph of hey-look-at-me form over just-the-facts content. It’s high up on any Wellesian Top Ten, and what filmmaker’s Top Ten tops his?

The sequence takes up less than three minutes, though. The rest of the movie is like a film noir put-on—with only Welles in on the joke.

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