The Lady From Shanghai Irony

The Lady From Shanghai Irony


When Michael first introduces himself, he presents himself as being the most dangerous person in the film. He tells Elsa that he killed a man and he proves that he is willing to do it again when Grisby asks him. Michael is, however, the least harmless person in the film. The other characters are ready to kill without remorse for the sake of money or to protect their reputation while Michael seems to need a higher motive to do it. Because of this, it is ironic to see how the character who was supposed to be the most dangerous is actually harmless.


When Grisby talks about his plan to fake his death, it is clear that he doesn’t think for a minute that he will actually die. Instead, he plans to use Michael and make him be the one accused of both his and Bannister’s death. His plan fails when he is the one who is killed by Elsa, the viewer witnessing an ironic turn of events.

Helping the enemy

After Michael is accused of Grisby’s death, the one who offers to help him escape being convicted is Arthur Bannister. At first, he tries to help Michael and does everything he can to make sure that Michael will not be convicted but his attitude changes when he discovers that he is helping the man who not long ago was planning to run away with Elsa, Bannister’s wife.

Betrayed by his own wife

From the beginning, it is clear that Arthur Bannister will do anything to please his wife. This is why it is ironic when the viewer finds that the person who wanted Bannister dead is Elsa, the wife he adores.

No body

The reason which convinced Michael to go with Grisby’s plan was Grisby’s assurance that there will be nobody and therefore he will not be convicted of murder. This, however, proves to be false and both Grisby’s dead body and the confession signed by Michael is what leads him to be accused of murder.

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