Fascinating stuff in THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, Tony. I like the whole tone of that sequence shot on Flynn's yacht doing the Panama passage. There is a sense of transition, the possibility winning out, and of sailing nevertheless toward doom.
And the scene of Michael seeing through Grisby and Bannister on the beach is as good as anything on film in its time. Then, there is the scene of Grisby and Michael on the mountain, looking down on Acapulco Bay . . . .
Can anything top it for depicting, almost surreally, as you say, the madness we are still trapped in.
There are evenings, at the Ha-Ra Club, when Baesen and I play on the juke box the Jazz at the Movies Band arrangement of the score for LAURA, followed by that for KEY LARGO. It's about as close to THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI experience, somehow, as an aural sensation can get.
Especially, if a Melinda, Kathleen, Mary Ann, or Nellie McKay wanders in from chilly Geary Street.