A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by "Mother" Gin Sling, a dragon-lady who worked herself up from poverty to buy the casino. Sir Guy ... See full summary »
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
Nick Cochran, an American in exile in Macao, has a chance to restore his name by helping capture an international crime lord. Undercover, can he mislead the bad guys and still woo the handsome singer/petty crook, Julie Benson?
Josef von Sternberg,
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 »
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 »
A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Morgan, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl, ... See full summary »
Theodore Dreiser sued Paramount for misrepresenting his novel by transforming it into an ordinary murder story. The judge ruled in favor of Paramount; Dreiser's motion to prevent release of the film was denied. See more »
This seems much closer to the facts of Theodore Dreiser's great novel than the soapy 50s version, good in its own way, with Montgomery Clift.
Even with florid Josef von Sternberg directing, the film follows the basic plot of the novel although there seem to be a few holes. Still, the courtroom scene is electric and makes this all worth it. I also like the casting of Phillips Holmes as Clyde. Holmes is able to capture the bizarre passions and inability to really care that embody Clyde. His subtle performance in the courtroom scenes, as he slowly breaks down and loses any sense of truth under the barrage of lawyers, is quite excellent. His voice goes higher and thinner as he becomes just a frightened boy answering the stupid questions posed by the sadistic and ambitious lawyers.
Sylvia Sidney is quite good as the tragic Roberta, and Frances Dee captures the haughty attitudes of the wealthy of that era. Charles Middleton and Irving Pichel play the lawyers. And Lucille LaVerne plays Clyde's mother.
This was a big hit in its day and helped establish Holmes and Sidney as stars. Holmes had a relatively short starring career and died in WW II but he made several memorable films with Nancy Carroll.
12 of 15 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?