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Shanghai Express (1932)

Passed  -  Adventure | Drama | Romance  -  12 February 1932 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,888 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 32 critic

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 »

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Title: Shanghai Express (1932)

Shanghai Express (1932) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Shanghai Lily
...
Captain 'Doc' Harvey
...
Hui Fei
...
Mr. Henry Chang
...
Sam Salt
Lawrence Grant ...
Reverend Mr. Carmichael
Louise Closser Hale ...
Mrs. Haggerty
Gustav von Seyffertitz ...
Eric Baum
Emile Chautard ...
Major Lenard
Edit

Storyline

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 days. The British Army doctor, Donald Harvey, knew Lil before she became a famous "coaster." A fellow passenger defines a coaster as "a woman who lives by her wits along the China coast." When Chinese guerillas stop the train, Dr. Harvey is selected as the hostage. Lil saves him, but can she make him believe that she really hasn't changed from the woman he loved five years before? Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Many Men Had Loved Her -- but only one had been loved in return !


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

12 February 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El expreso de Shanghai  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In her autobiography, Marlene Dietrich claimed that von Sternberg directed most of the cinematography, instead of Lee Garmes (who actually won an Oscar for his work on the film). See more »

Goofs

The film is set in northern China (Peking to Shanghai). The government and warlord soldiers are speaking Taishanese, which is a southern Chinese dialect not generally spoken in northern China. The northern dialects of Mandarin Chinese (a Beijing dialect) and/or Shanghainese would be spoken instead. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Henry Chang: You're in China now, sir, where time and life have no value.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Scheidung mit Hindernissen (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

A dream of a ghostly train and shades of black
29 August 1999 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

Shanghai Express is another von Sternberg masterpiece, probably not appreciated in his day (no academy awards) and lesser known that it should be in this day. Film theory says this film was an attempt to shade degrees of blackness. At one point, Marlene Dietrich's face blooms like a white flower out of the shadows, then closes again.

Beautiful is not a big enough word enough to describe the cinematography in Shanghai Express. The plot is dreamlike and unrealistic (Sternberg hated realism), the costumes are excessive (impossible to contain in Dietrich's supposed luggage), the atmosphere is deliciously layered with decadence, exoticism (good part for Anna Mae Wong) and deterioration (broken walls, slats and fantasies), punctuated by von Sternberg's caprice (chickens wandering in front of the train -- a symbol of Dietrich's husband's profession as a chicken farmer?).

The storyline is basically a broken romance seeking to be healed between Clive Brook and Dietrich or "Shanghai Lily," the naughty lady who has sold her body the past few years to keep herself in glittery costumes and furs.

The real "story" is "Dietrich and von Sternberg visit China" on some movie lot, on their way from or to Russia (The Scarlet Empress), Spain (The Devil is a Woman), North Africa (Morocco), or somewhere in the U.S. (Blonde Venus).

Gorgeous and lots of fun!


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