Lady from Shanghai from 1947 with Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles and Everett Sloan
What do you do after your directorial debut is a film-industry-defining classic? You reach for greater heights and end up making artistic, crazy, confusing, interesting, but not necessarily good, movies like Lady from Shanghai.
The TCM Noir-Alley host Eddie Muller sums this one up pretty well when he calls it a "hot mess." It tries too hard to be what? Noir, groundbreaking, moving, alluring - all of those, I don't know.
The plot, while confusing, doesn't rise to the confusing heights of, say, The Big Sleep, as you kinda get it even before it's ploddingly explained at the end.
Hayworth married an older and partially crippled wealthy criminal attorney (Sloan) who resents his wife for marrying him for, we and he guess, his money.
On a long cruise aboard his yacht, where he has hired a young sailor (Welles) to join the crew, Sloan cruelly needles both Hayworth and Welles (and anyone else in his surround), which serves to drive those two together. And, yes, Welles sporting an intermittent Irish brogue and Hayworth with cropped platinum blonde hair and an "are you kidding me" body are attracted to each other.
However, it's hard to take Welles seriously in this one as he takes himself waaaaay-too seriously. And while Hayworth looks beautiful, her aloofness combined with Welles' character's pretentiousness leave you all but disinterested in Welles-and-Hayworth's struggle to get together and out of her husband's clutches.
Thrown into the mix is a confusing-for-confusing-sake plot about Sloan's law partner wanting Welles to help him fake his murder (for insurance money and to get away from Sloan). It goes horribly wrong (no surprise there) leading to a trial followed by a Hitchcock-on-steroids final chase scene in a house of mirrors and Lady From Shanghai staggers to a close.
We all know the Welles story: the boy-genius director of Citizen Kane spends the rest of his career running from or trying to top Kane with neither effort often leading to good results. Lady From Shanghai seems to be a "top Kane" effort that spun horribly out of control. It's worth the watch for some good or, at least, interesting parts, but also simply because it's another piece of the more-interesting Welles' life saga.