The Lady from Shanghai's Mirror Maze
The Lady from Shanghai's Mirror Maze
Scene from the film with Rita in front of the mirrors


The Lady from Shanghai


Mirror Maze


Distorts perception of reality





Collected by

Warehouse 13





Date of Collection

May 29, 2001



“The Lady from Shanghai” was a film noir released in 1947, starring Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane, and based on the book If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King. Written and directed by Welles himself, the movie was produced as a favor to Columbia Pictures director Henry Cohn, who Welles' owed for lending him money during his 1946 stage production of Jules Vernes' Around the World in 80 Days.

Welles cast his then-estranged wife at the time, Rita Hayworth, as the leading lady Elsa, against his role as the leading man, Michel O'Hara, and garnered controversy when he had her cut and bleach her iconic red hair, which Harry Cohn had not approved of. Cohn also did not approve of Welles original rough cut of the film, or it's filmography, and ordered extensive reshooting and rewriting that ended up pushing the film over budget and over schedule, which contributed to Welles' reputation as a difficult director.

The film itself was not a financial success, though in later years it has gained more popularity, which is in part due to it's final scene, a shoot out in a hall of mirrors, which was an elaborately built set on Columbia's backlot that used over 100 plate-glass mirrors. Frames were layered on top of each other in editing, some slightly askew, to help distort the audience further as mirrors were destroyed on screen. Though this scene was planned to last twenty minutes, Cohn's edits whittled the sequence down to less than three minutes, and the remaining footage is said to be lost.


These mirrors were swiped by Welles and ended up in a storage locker in Hollywood before they were discovered. Imbued with Welles' creative vision and his complicated relationship with Hayworth, the mirrors forcibly orient themselves into their positions from shooting, and any who enter into the erected "House of Mirrors" are hypnotized, and their grip on reality becomes distorted. Trapped in surreal visions similar to that of their film's climax, victims will have a difficult time maneuvering within the confines and slowly lose their sense of orientation. The maze can be exited at the panel marked by two bullet holes, which is not distorted by the mirrors.

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