REEL 13

What’s your favorite “flashback” film noir?

Posted: February 24, 2017
The Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai, is a film noir crime drama starring Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles, who also directed. Although not released in America until 1948, production on The Lady from Shanghai commenced in late 1946, just five years after the release of Citizen Kane. Yet in these five short years since Kane, the bloom had decidedly faded from the rose; Welles needed a hit.

Yet old habits die hard, and Welles couldn’t resist toying around with the film’s script, adding and subtracting parts and characters until early test screenings reported many audience members finding the film “incoherent.” But if we simply discard narrative logic, The Lady from Shanghai emerges instead as a kind of startling fever dream, a deep pool of the anxieties, fears and fantasies of postwar America that was simply years ahead of its time.

This week’s question: What’s your favorite “flashback” film noir? That’s right—the film must contain some kind of flashback illustrating the past of its main characters.

“I think my all-time favorite flashback noir is Edgar G. Ulmer’s remarkable Detour; the play between the voiceover and the images we see is amazingly complex, especially for a film supposedly shot only in seven days,” said host Richard Peña.

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