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The Lady from Shanghai Analysis

Michael O’Hara was hired as a new crew member of Arthur Bannister’s yacht, which was sailing to San Francisco. He made this decision against his better judgment as Bannister was a well-known criminal lawyer. They go pick up Banister’s law partner and set off. But O’Hara gets interested in Bannister’s wife, Elisa Bannister. He had rescued her from a group of ruffians in the central back the night before and this created the infatuation feeling.

Grisby, who is the law partner of Bannister, wants to fake his death and offers $5000 to O’Hara to help him get away with it. O’Hara wants the money so as to run away with Elsa. But Grisby turns up murdered, and O’Hara gets blamed as he had been set up. Bannister defends O’Hara in court.

The film portrays a number of attributes of the film noir. Examples of such attributes include the cinematography, character development, and even the setting of the film. The story of the film portrays a male who is set up for murder after falling for the wrong woman (Pippin 15). A crime or detective story is a standard characteristic of the film noir genre. In addition to that, the visual style used in the film incorporates low-key, black-and-white cinematography. The use of heavy lighting and heavy shadowing to bring a strong contrast in the film is a style that is common in the genre (Pippin 17). Finally, the genre uses a setting that takes place in an urban or city setting. This trait is almost always present in the film The Lady from Shanghai.

Pippin argues that the actions of the characters in the film noirs are not well served by the reflective model of agency. Major characters like we see in the film The Lady from Shanghai engage in actions that end up messing up their own lives (Pippin 22). For instance, O’Hara falls in love with Elisa, a factor that initiates the death of Grisby and, consequently, his arrest and judgment on murder.

Work Cited

Pippin, Robert B. Fatalism in American film noir: some cinematic philosophy. University of Virginia Press, (2012) 1-135



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