A French UN delegate has disappeared into thin air, sending reporter Moreau (Jean-Pierre Melville) and hard drinking photographer Delmas (Pierre Grasset) on an assignment to find him. Their only lead is a picture of three women.
Many passengers on the Shanghai Express are more concerned that the notorious Shanghai Lil is on board than the fact that a civil war is going on that may make the trip take more than three... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Anna May Wong
Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »
In 1845 Vienna, Johann Strauß II - Schani to his friends - would rather write and perform waltzes than anything else, this at a time when a waltz is not considered proper society music. ... See full summary »
Young Princess Sophia of Germany is taken to Russia to marry the half-wit Grand Duke Peter, son of the Empress. The domineering Empress hopes to improve the royal blood line. Sophia doesn't... See full summary »
Film told in flashbacks of an older man's obsession for a woman who can belong to no-one but can frustrate everyone. The backdrop is SternbergÍs surreal and fantastic Carnaval in Spain. In ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Edward Everett Horton
Although it cost only $5000 to make, half coming from a silent partner, von Sternberg bought out his partner, giving him 100% profit on his 50% investment and sold 50% of the rights of "The Salvation Hunters" to Joseph M. Schenck of United Artists for $20,000. See more »
Just watched this film and I'm not sure what to think. There was a sliver of biography preceding the film that talked about George K. Arthur approaching Josef von Sternberg with $6,000 to make a film. They assembled a cast of "unknowns" that included Georgia Hale, Otto Matieson, Bruce Guerin, Nellie Bly Baker.
Von Sternberg fashioned a story about life with the harbor dredge acting as a symbol of life's futility as it gouges up harbor mud even as the shore crumbles back into the sea.
The Boy, The Girl and The Child leave the harbor and go to the city where they are immediately set upon by The Man who tries to press The Girl into prostitution. He already has The Woman in another room, seemingly a prisoner.
After a failed tryst, The Man thinks that maybe a trip to the country will make The Girl more pliable but he has to take everyone along. They stop at a development site that boasts something like DREAMS ARE MADE HERE. When The Child gets in the way of The Man's advances, he starts beating the kid so that The Boy comes to his rescue, finds his own manhood, and trounces the cad. The three walk away into the sunset and "to the sun."
So the whole films acts as a metaphor of man coming out of the primordial ooze with the ultimate goal of going "to the sun."
Not very arty for a von Sternberg film, especially the grimy San Pedro harbor scenes, and despite a few nice close-ups of Georgia Hale, this almost has the look and feel of a documentary but with pretensions.
The bio tells us that Chaplin saw this (Nellie Bly Baker had been his secretary and had appeared in a few of his films) and was impressed. He brought it to Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford who loved it and distributed the film through UA, thus making von Sternberg's career in America.
The question remains: exactly what did these 3 giants see in this film?
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