Minimal. No scenes with sex or nudity, but some scenes feature women in bathing suits. Also, there are multiple scenes showing women with cleavage. Several passionate kisses between a married woman and a single man.


Film review:Translated by www.rabudo-ru.com


I thought it was a full topic film, but I was shocked to find that there were only three film reviews on Douban. The general content was nothing more than: 1) the outline of the story 2) trivia 3) Rita Hayworth’s beauty 4) the vague greatness of Orson wells. On the first three points, I have no interest in wasting my pen and ink; As for the fourth point, don’t get me wrong. I have been completely impressed by Orson Wells’s genius. Miss Shanghai has also ranked among the best movies in my mind. Unfortunately, although I think I have certain appreciation ability, I also face the lack of analytical ability. Not to mention the Surrealist feast of the crazy house, those less subversive scenes also aroused my love to the same extent – the composition and camera movement of the smoke delivery scene, the figure of Elsa floating over the night scene of Mexico City, the montage of the Chinese theater, all those grotesque close-ups of grisby… However, the specific subtlety of these, I can only suggest others to see it in person. I can even mention the isolated protagonists in the fantasy environment, the plight of white heterosexual men, misogynia, Orientalism, snake and scorpion beauties as others and people of color from the perspective of black films… But it’s meaningless to learn and sell now after all. Therefore, I choose not to challenge this too professional task. I still talk about the logic of the plot that I (and most of the audience) have the ability to judge.

I’m surprised at the collective silence on this point, as if the plot was too simple to mention, or obviously logical. But I decided to take the risk of exposing the lower limit of IQ to disagree – the plot is not simple at all, and there are illogical places. Even the core plot is complex enough: grisby hired Michael to “kill” himself for $5000, which is actually creating a death illusion so that he can live anonymously on the southern island. Michael needs to write a document acknowledging the killing of grisby – according to the law, grisby will be confirmed dead because of this document, as long as his body is not found, Michael doesn’t constitute murder. The deal is just a cover. Grisby’s lawyer partner Bannister will receive huge insurance compensation for his death, while grisby, who is legally dead, will kill Bannister and blame Michael. Being declared dead helps grisby get rid of his suspicion. Theoretically, he will share the money with Elsa, the wife of Bannister who inherited Bannister’s estate including grisby’s insurance money – his mistress and real accomplice. In fact, Elsa has planned to get rid of grisby after Bannister’s death, monopolize the estate and let Michael commit two homicides. Elsa’s plan was disrupted by an accident – Broome, a private detective hired by Bannister, discovered the plot against his employer and blackmailed grisby. Grisby was forced to kill Broome. Elsa killed grisby in advance in order to prevent grisby from being arrested by the police, so Michael assisted grisby to pretend to be dead, which turned into murder with stolen goods.

However, looking back on grisby’s explanation of the fake death plan to Michael, we will find an obvious loophole – grisby mentioned the insurance clause when explaining his motivation for fake death: he and Bannister are partners, and the death of either person will make another person get compensation – but this is completely opposite to the traditional murder insurance fraud, isn’t it? Pay someone to make their own fake death to profit the partners they hate, why? Michael, as a scapegoat being used, only knows the first half of the serial plan from grisby. He has no way to know that the money will return to grisby through Elsa together with Bannister’s legacy. Therefore, why doesn’t he ask this sentence loudly and why he is unaware of the loophole that any person with normal IQ will question? Of course, grisby made up another motive that was more reasonable than a fuss – to get rid of his unhappy (actually non-existent) marriage. So why did he throw out that dangerously suspicious insurance clause before that?

Also puzzling is the position of Bannister, the husband at the center of the plot. Elsa was the first to get to know Michael and take advantage of him, but it was Bannister who really persuaded Michael to work for his yacht; When the picnic scene talked about Michael’s intention to quit, Elsa showed indifference. Grisby chose to inform bannister of Michael’s idea. Finally, Bannister, who was killed without Michael’s knowledge, theoretically persuaded Michael to stay. Bannister hired Broome to monitor Elsa. According to Elsa, it was to collect evidence of her cheating so that she didn’t have to pay her a penny at the time of divorce. However, Bannister publicly claimed and did not mind Elsa’s affair with Michael from the perspective of behavior. So maybe what Bannister really cares about is Elsa’s plot with grisby? When Broome warned him that he was in danger of being murdered, he said he knew everything and worked harder than anyone to ensure that Michael, an important piece in his murder plan, remained with grisby and Elsa for use, which made me think he had already conceived a counter-measure and led the right hand into the trap, But in fact, none of this happened at all – Bannister just let grisby and Elsa implement their plan, let Broome’s death disrupt the plan and accept the final result. His motive for defending Michael is even more inexplicable. On the eve of sentencing, he admitted that he intended to lose the lawsuit and put Michael to death. However, even without his defense, the evidence available to prosecutor Galloway is enough to sentence Michael to death; What’s more, Michael’s death is not profitable to him. Even if it makes Elsa lose a scapegoat that can be used to murder him again, Elsa may find another one. After seeing through all Elsa’s tricks and the letter left to the prosecutor that was enough to kill Elsa, he needlessly risked himself and died with Elsa!

What if grisby and Elsa’s plans weren’t disrupted by Broome? Michael wrote down the file admitting to killing grisby. The truck driver saw Michael with grisby. Michael is stained with grisby’s blood. Then grisby disappeared and it was Bannister who found the body, so put these details together and add Michael’s confession to the whole fake death trick, who will firmly believe that Michael is the murderer of two homicides, and how can the blame succeed? Yes, when it’s done, Elsa will still kill grisby and swallow the inheritance, so all the evidence will point to Michael’s killing grisby. This certainty will induce people to believe that Bannister also killed him – but grisby doesn’t know he will be killed, so he’s so stupid that he can’t see anything strange?

Elsa suggests that Michael swallowed Bannister’s painkillers, and the latter escaped from the court by using the confusion caused by doing so, but in fact, he doesn’t know the purpose of Elsa’s letting him take the medicine. Using the confusion to escape is just a flash of inspiration. How can Elsa predict the favorable result caused by Michael’s accidental choice? And a scene in a Chinese Theater – Michael touches the gun he already knows she is used to carrying in Elsa’s bag and determines that it killed grisby without even looking at it – what’s the logic?

Now I can let another theme of mine – subtext – come on stage. I don’t like to presuppose a movie with subtext. However, from the analysis of the plot of Miss Shanghai, its seemingly self consistent but rather absurd logic forces me to understand it from another angle. Is Orson wells pursuing the complexity of the plot too much to justify it, or is he not interested in it at all? In addition to the plot, there is something called atmosphere in the film, and Miss Shanghai is almost deliberately mysterious, blurred and surreal, which makes me choose the latter of the above two conjectures. Perhaps it is Orson wells’ original intention to create such characters driven by irrational passion under the appearance of following logic, isn’t it?

In fact, with a little inspection, more doubts will emerge one after another. When grisby first invited Michael to kill himself for $5000, didn’t those meaningful remarks about the end of the world really seem to imply the desire for death? Isn’t Elsa strangely sympathetic to Michael’s statement? The plot seems to convince us that grisby is an ordinary criminal with conventional motives (lust for Elsa and greed for money) and logical plans, but why is this character still full of abnormality and strangeness? Elsa has been extremely courteous by her husband from beginning to end, but why do we still feel that her despair and panic are not completely disguised? Why does Bessie, a black maid who has nothing to do with the conspiracy, have such real anxiety and desire for protection for Elsa?

And the most bizarre and creepy scene – the picnic scene. First, there is a dialogue among grisby, Bannister and Elsa – Bannister and Elsa are husband and wife, and grisby are business partners. However, these three people show a close relationship similar to family in an uncomfortable way; Then they summoned the innocent outsider Michael, who had been aware of the strange relationship. His soundness more and more reflected the hidden distortion and degeneration of this strange family. In this process, Elsa appears passive and numb. Bannister’s words are sharp, especially frequently insults grisby, as if they are not equal partners at all (this is also shown in the previous smoke delivery scene). Grisby gives Bannister a silent and extremely resentful look. It seems that in this family, Bannister is an indisputable parent, cruelly slaughtering his wife and partners; The latter two can only endure and suppress their inner hatred, while Bannister fully knows and has enough reason to despise their hostility – full of sadism / masochism, doesn’t it? In particular, Orson wells gave Bannister so many close-up pictures of disabled legs and strange crutches, and disability usually refers to sexual incompetence, which is often compensated by abusive behavior… Maybe this is why grisby and Elsa both showed signs of mental instability on the verge of collapse and tried to get rid of Bannister by any means?

If these hints are not true enough, look at Bannister’s lines: “give him a drink, George. And don’t look so shocked. Michael may not be in the social register, but then neither are you… Any more.”—— So Bannister and grisby’s partners don’t just seem unequal, but there is something potential that constitutes their substantive inequality? “You should know what George knows about me if you really want to call me names. And Michael… if you think George’s story is interesting, you ought to hear the one about how Elsa got to be my wife.”—— Bannister probably did something terrible to both grisby and Elsa (what he did to Elsa was related to their marriage), and instead of hiding it, he showed it off? So far, I almost feel that an epic about the metamorphosis of human mind is ready to come out! However, all the clues suddenly stopped, and Michael slowly told his fable of sharks biting each other to death. Of course, this is a great fable, which accurately shows the bloody nature of the relationship between the three in front of him, but Orson wells did not disclose the details to us after all. I don’t want to induce anyone, so I don’t speculate whether it is the result of editing, the compromise of censorship in the 1940s, or some higher artistic pursuit. But even if you don’t ask about the details, the atmosphere – it still really pervades every corner of the film.

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