fbpx The Lady from Shanghai | George Eastman Museum

The Lady from Shanghai

Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 7:30 p.m., Dryden Theatre

(Orson Welles, U.S. 1947, 87 min., 35mm)

Michael O’Hara meets Elsa by rescuing her from three hooligans in Central Park. While escorting her home, Michael learns Elsa and her husband, who is a disabled criminal defense attorney, are new to New York City from Shanghai. The couple are on their way to San Francisco via the Panama Canal. Michael, attracted to Elsa despite her marital status, agrees to sign on as a seaman aboard her husband’s yacht. They are joined on the yacht by George Grisby, who proposes that Michael “murder” him in a plot to fake his own death. He promises Michael $5,000 and explains that since he would not really be dead and since there would be no corpse, Michael could not be held liable. Michael agrees, intending to use the money to run away with Elsa. However, their plan goes awry, resulting in dastardly effects. Welles and Hayworth married on September 7, 1943 and returned to work at the studio just hours after saying “I do.” Although the media was heavily invested in the pair, their romance eventually fizzled out, and they divorced on November 10, 1947.

Post-screening discussion with Audrey Johnson, curator of the “Hollywood Pairings” series