Film Review – THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947)

LADY FROM SHANGHAI, THE (1947, USA) ***½
Crime, Drama, Mystery

dist. Columbia Pictures; pr co. Mercury Productions; d. Orson Welles; w. Orson Welles (based on the novel “If I Die Before I Wake” by Sherwood King); exec pr. Harry Cohn (uncredited); pr. Orson Welles; assoc pr. William Castle, Richard Wilson; ph. Charles Lawton Jr. (B&W. 35mm. Spherical. 1.37:1); m. Heinz Roemheld; md. Morris Stoloff; ed. Viola Lawrence; ad. Sturges Carne, Stephen Goosson; set d. Wilbur Menefee, Herman N. Schoenbrun; cos. Jean Louis; m/up. Clay Campbell, Robert J. Schiffer, Helen Hunt (all uncredited); sd. Lodge Cunningham (Mono (Western Electric Recording)); sfx. Lawrence W. Butler (uncredited); rel. 24 December 1947 (France), 7 March 1948 (UK), 14 April 1948 (USA); cert: -/PG; r/t. 87m.

cast: Rita Hayworth (Elsa Bannister), Orson Welles (Michael O’Hara), Everett Sloane (Arthur Bannister), Glenn Anders (George Grisby), Ted de Corsia (Sidney Broome), Erskine Sanford (Judge), Gus Schilling (Goldie), Carl Frank (District Attorney Galloway), Louis Merrill (Jake Bjornsen), Evelyn Ellis (Bessie), Harry Shannon (Cab Driver).

Michael O’Hara (Welles), an Irish adventurer, is lured by Elsa Bannister (Hayworth), beautiful wife of a crippled but successful lawyer (Sloane), into joining the crew of her husband’s yacht bound for a cruise in the Pacific. Bannister’s partner, Grisby (Anders), joins the party and offers O’Hara five thousand dollars to help him frame a disappearance act intended to look like murder. O’Hara accepts, hoping the money will enable him to get Elsa away from her husband. As you would come to expect from Welles the director, the film is full of technical brilliance and is visually stunning. Of the memorable scenes the funhouse finale is the most iconic and has been copied numerous times since. The performances are excellent with Welles convincingly affecting an Irish accent and Hayworth at her alluring best. Sloane and Arden are both sinister and on the verge of being unhinged. The bizarre story, however, must rely on the film’s technical virtues to paper over its implausibility. The script therefore, despite its adventurous and sometimes witty approach, is the weak link that prevents the film from being an out and out classic. That does not mean there is not much to enjoy in this experimental noir, just do not expect it to hang together as a whole. Welles’ original rough cut of this picture ran 155m.

Film Review – CIRCUS WORLD (1964)

Image result for circus world 1964Circus World (1964; USA; Technicolor; 135m) ***  d. Henry Hathaway; w. Ben Hecht, Julian Halevy, James Edward Grant, Philip Yordan, Nicholas Ray; ph. Jack Hildyard; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Claudia Cardinale, John Smith, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, Wanda Rotha, Kay Walsh. A circus owner is beset by disasters as he attempts a European tour of his circus. At the same time, he is caught in an emotional bind between his adopted daughter and her mother. Spectacular circus action makes up for lack of plot and two-dimensional characters. High production values and an exciting finale built around a devastating fire are also pluses. Wayne and Nolan give strong performances, but the rest of the cast are swamped by a script that gives them little to get their teeth into. Aka: THE MAGNIFICENT SHOWMAN. [U]

Film Review – ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939)

Only Angels Have Wings (1939; USA; B&W; 121m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman; ph. Joseph Walker; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, Allyn Joslyn, Sig Ruman, Victor Kilian, John Carroll, Donald Barry, Noah Beery Jr., Maciste, Milisa Sierra, Lucio Villegas, Pat Flaherty, Pedro Regas, Pat West. At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots’ lives in order to win an important contract. Classic Hawks film uses themes of comradeship and bravery spiced with a love interest. A character piece with an episodic plot, it coasts on the strong performances of its impressive cast. Grant plays the boss, who won’t let his feelings get in the way of seeing the job through and Arthur is the show girl who turns the heads of his pilot crew. Hayworth is also memorable as Grant’s former girl who has taken up with Barthelmess – a pilot with a dark secret. Hawks would later finesse the formula in RIO BRAVO. [U]

Film Review Round-up – BRANDED (1950), GONE GIRL (2014) and GILDA (1946)

BrandedBranded (1950; USA; Technicolor; 104m) ∗∗∗  d. Rudolph Maté; w. Sydney Boehm, Cyril Hume; ph. Charles Lang; m. Roy Webb; ed. Alma Macrorie.  Cast: Alan Ladd, Mona Freeman, Charles Bickford, Robert Keith, Joseph Calleia, Peter Hansen, Selena Royle, Tom Tully, John Berkes, Milburn Stone, Martin Garralaga, Edward Clark, John Butler. A gunfighter takes part in a scheme to bilk a wealthy cattle family out of half a million dollars by pretending to be their son, who was kidnapped as child. Ladd’s intense performance and the stunning vistas are the best thing about this tale of redemption. Based on the novel “Montana Rides” by Max Brand (as Evan Evans). European version runs 94m. [PG]

Gone-Girl-2014-BluRay-480p-400mb-ESubGone Girl (2014; USA; Colour; 149m) ∗∗∗½  d. David Fincher; w. Gillian Flynn; ph. Jeff Cronenweth; m. Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross; ed. Kirk Baxter.  Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon, Missi Pyle, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Scoot McNairy, Sela Ward, Emily Ratajkowski, Lee Norris, Casey Wilson, Lyn Quinn, Lola Kirke, David Clennon, Lola Kirke. With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent. Initially inventive and intriguing, but ultimately it descends into increasing implausibility. Affleck and Pike deliver top class performances to maintain interest throughout despite the contrivances and Fincher keeps the pace consistent. Flynn adapted her own novel. [18]

GildaGilda (1946; USA; B&W; 110m) ∗∗∗½  d. Charles Vidor; w. Jo Eisinger, Marion Parsonnet; ph. Rudolph Maté; m. Hugo Friedhofer; ed. Charles Nelson.  Cast: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready, Joseph Calleia, Steven Geray, Joe Sawyer, Gerald Mohr, Mark Roberts, Ludwig Donath, Donald Douglas, Sam Flint, Bess Flowers, Jean Del Val, Eduardo Ciannelli, Argentina Brunetti. The sinister boss of a South American casino finds that his right-hand man and his sensuous new wife already know each other. Hayworth delivers a mesmerising performance in this stylish but often overwrought noir, which is daring for its themes of sexual repression. Based on a story by E.A. Ellington. [PG]