Hey there, drinkers!
This review has been a bit delayed but here we are, drinking a porter and watching Orson Welles. This is BAAM’s first porter review and the first porter I’ve had in a long while. And though I should probably be drinking a stout, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to pretty much ignore the holiday and drink whatever I felt like. I also felt compelled to take a break from watching crappy movies and went with a classic film noir because, you know, I should probably put that college education to use every now and then.
In unrelated news, I bought a growler. Drink local!
That's filled with beer!
Okay, now that that’s out of my system, let’s get started.
Orson Welles’ 1947 film noir The Lady From Shanghai actually has very little to do with Shanghai and has quite a bit to do with ladies. Actually, just one lady: Rita Hayworth. More specifically, a short, blonde-haired Hayworth typically sporting a bikini. The 1940’s were an exciting time. Temporarily ignoring Rita Hayworth’s perpetual beach body, the film is a bit landmark in terms of the film noir. It features many of the classic noir tropes of high-contrast lighting, fatal women and strikingly dumb protagonists. While The Lady From Shanghai doesn’t rely on a a hard-boiled detective, it does place our hero in the middle of a murder scandal where everyone’s motives are a mystery. To its credit, the film does take a number of twists and turns that keeps the audience guessing as to each person’s motivations. From money to divorce to nuclear fears, each character, except Orson Welles of course, has hidden objectives that all literally shatter at the end when our killer is revealed. The film’s most striking scene is one that most of you are probably familiar with, regardless of whether or not you’ve actually seen the film. Orson Welles finds himself in a Mirror Maze as two other main characters start shooting at each other out of hate and, interestingly enough, love. The resulting visual is brilliant. Faces and guns reflect across every surface of the screen, placing the viewer in the center of the chaos and confusion.
And while I’ve probably just spoiled the conclusion with that clip, I’m actively trying not to talk about plot too much more. I don’t want to ruin the movie anymore than I already have and I also think it’s a fairly slow film, despite it being only about 90 minutes. So since I’m a considerate writer, I won’t bore you with the film’s long ass boat trip down the coast of Mexico. What I will say about this film is that it can be difficult to understand the dialogue due to the cadence at which people talk. Also, Orson Welles does a terrible Irish accent. Just saying.
Two more brief things I’d like to point out before moving on:
1) Visually, this film is quite engaging. Orson Welles was definitely a very creative man when it came to visual storytelling and was not afraid to try unconventional and risky lighting setups and camera angles.
2) This film has some great quotes. I’ll list a few
a) “It’s a bright, guilty world.”
b) “Personally I don’t like a girlfriend to have a husband.”
c) “This is going to be murder and it’s going to be legal.”
d) “You need more than luck in Shanghai. “
And for those of you who are curious about the Shanghai reference, it’s because Rita Hayworth’s character apparently spent some time in Shanghai and speaks Chinese at the end of the film…yup.
Under the censorship rules of the Hays Code, this bikini means that Rita Hayworth has to die.
So what does the The Lady From Shanghai have to do with Speakeasy’s Payback Porter? Though this film doesn’t expressly deal with revenge, the film is all about the complications of murders. And it takes place, in part, in San Franciscos which is the home of the Speakeasy Brewery. Now, I typically shy away from porters as I find that stouts are more my speed. However, this porter may put me back on the porter path. This dark (and I mean dark) beer is super duper malty with notes of coffee and chocolate. I typically associate chocolate malts more with stouts, but it was not amiss in this porter. While the beer was a bit maltier than I generally prefer, the beer is still fairly well-balanced. It’s not the most complex beer but it does the trick when you’re just looking for a hearty beer.
So there you have it, drinkers. It feels good to be back in the saddle. Drinking unfamiliar beers and watching classic films. And while this wasn’t my favorite noir, and I may not be totally sold on porters, I consider both to be a good experience. The Lady From Shanghai is definitely a must see for anyone interested in older films. Orson Welles is always great to watch and the visuals are very engaging. Besides, Rita Hayworth still looks great. It’s just a tad slow, but that’s probably because it wasn’t edited like The Bourne Identity. And the Payback Porter was not out of place either. It was strong and malty but was still a pleasure to drink. It also continued to taste pretty good as it warmed, which I always appreciate.
And so we conclude our 39th review (I think…if we exclude the recap reviews). In theory, I will be doing some sort of 40th review celebration that may or may not include my drinking 40 oz. of a terrible beer. We’ll see how classy I want to be.*
But until then, keep drinking my friends.
Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Speakeasy’s Payback Porter:
– Prominent notes of chocolate & coffee.
– Very, very malty. Almost too much so for my tastes. Almost.
– Warms quite well.
The Lady From Shanghai:
-Classic film noir without the classic detective hero.
-Memorable Mirror Maze. Seriously, watch the clip above.
-Rita Hayworth is one sexy lady. Don’t try to deny it.
*CORRECTION: IT TURNS OUT THAT THIS IS MY 40TH REVIEW. MAJORLY ANTICLIMACTIC. MANY APOLOGIES. I PROMISE I WILL NOT MISCOUNT AGAIN AND THERE WILL BE BIG BLOWOUT BASH FOR MY 50TH REVIEW. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS KEPT ME WRITING THESE REVIEWS AND FOR PUTTING UP WITH MY DUMB MISTAKES.