From The Desk Of The Minders: “The Lady From Shanghai”

Since forming in 1996, Martyn Leaper and the Minders have morphed from Elephant 6 darlings to twee-pop anarchists, throwing love bombs and denouncing nothing. Most non-fans remember the Minders’ auspicious 1998 debut, Hooray For Tuesday, and its unfairly derided follow-up, 2001’s Golden Street, but the band was active until 2006’s slight-but-lovely It’s A Bright Guilty World. The Minders’ only interim release has been the second web-only iteration of their odds-and-sods Cul-De-Sacs And Dead Ends. In the gap, Leaper wrote and demoed new songs when he could crowbar it into his 40-hour work week. Along with renowned producer Larry Crane (Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney), Leaper began finding the thread of Into The River, the first actual Minders studio work in a decade. Leaper will be guest editing all week. Read our Minders feature.


Leaper: Film-noir classic The Lady From Shanghai, which was produced and directed by Orson Welles, is a forgotten masterpiece. Welles who also starred in the film alongside his then wife, Hollywood starlet Rita Hayworth, initially began the project after becoming indebted to Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn. Like many of Welles’ endeavors, The Lady From Shanghai became a labor of love, with the famously brash master of film throwing all of his wizardry into the picture. Upon its release, the film was poorly received, and was considered by many critics to be a flop, which is hard to believe, since the film is now considered to be a masterpiece.

Even though The Lady From Shanghai was panned by the critics, it was recognized for some of its technically brilliant scenes, notably, the film’s climax in the maze of mirrors. Among the brilliance of the art direction, I find the dialogue odd and modern. Especially when Welles’ character, Michael O’Hara, an itinerant deck hand waxes: “There’s a fair face to the land, surely, but you can’t hide the hunger and guilt. It’s a bright guilty world.”

The Lady From Shanghai is now considered one of the greatest film-noir movies ever made. It is true that the plot rambles at times, but one can glance at the future in the complex characters that Welles brought to life in this most unusual film.

Video after the jump.