Shanghai Express (1932) B+
One of Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich best and most popular collaborations, “Shanghai Express” was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture, winning Best Cinematography.
“Shanghai Express” was the third of the seven films von Sternberg (who was for a while her lover) made with Dietrich, but as their series progressed, the commercial appeal declined.
“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily,” purrs Marlene Dietrich in seductive, heavy German accent. The screenplay of this exotic adventure tale by Jules Furthman is replete with cheeky, campy lines of dialogue like this.
Among her fellow passengers on the notorious Shanghai Express train are Shanghai Lily’s disillusioned former fiance, stalwart British medical corps officer Clive Brook; overfervent missionary Lawrence Grant; dope smuggler Gustav von Seyffertitz; and mysterious Eurasian businessman Warner Oland.
As the train passes through the more treacherous regions of war-torn China, Oland reveals himself as the leader of a rebel group, who plans to hold the passengers hostage to secure the release of his imprisoned followers.
Dietrich, who is a notorious “Chinese coaster” but who has remained sexually aloof throughout the trip, gives herself to Oland to save the life of Brook, the man she truly loves.
Directed by Josef von Sternberg at his most opulent and lavish style, “Shanghai Express” has become a classic due to Dietrich’s performance and visual style.
Several films, such as Night Plane to Chungking and Peking Express, have been inspired by this tale.
Oscar Nominations: 3
Director: Josef von Sternberg
Cinematography: Lee Garmes
Oscar Awards: 1
The winner of the Best Picture Oscar was “Grand Hotel,” starring Dietrich’s competitor, Garbo the Divine. Frank Borzage won the Directing Award for “Bad Girl.”
Running time: 80 Minutes.
Directed by Josef von Sternberg.
Screenplay: Harry Hervey and Jules Furthman
Marlene Dietrich as Shanghai Lily
Clive Brook as Captain Donald Harvey
Anna May Wong as Hue Fei
Warner Oland as Henry Chang
Eugene Pallette as Sam Salt
Leave a Reply
- Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of Plains Indian)
- Fast & Furious 6: Thrilling Joyride
- Angelina Jolie Double Mastectomy–Talk of Cannes Film Fest
- Bling Ring, The
- Before Midnight: Hawke and Delpie at Mid-Age
- Stories We Tell
- Great Gatsby: Luhrmann’s Jazzy Spectacle
- Star Trek into Darkness: Solid Sequel
- Love Is All You Need: From Denmark Via Italy
- Kiss of the Damned: Oversexed Vampires
- Murphy’s Romance (1986): James Garner’s Only Oscar Nomination