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 »
Country orphan Lily goes to Berlin to stay with her tippling aunt, and soon meets Richard, handsome sculptor across the street. Persuaded half-reluctantly to pose for Richard, her physical ... See full summary »
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 »
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 »
On the eve of World War II (1939) English officer Ralph Denistoun is in Nazi Germany on an espionage mission to recover a poison gas formula from Prof. Krosigk. He is helped by Lydia and ... See full summary »
The local building-contractor Martin Roumagnac is fascinated by the fashionable Blanche Ferrand. To impress Blache, Martin presents her with a villa. However, this ruins him financially. ... 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 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It was von Sternberg's intention that the style of the film should reflect the rhythm of a train journey. This explains the film's tight pace and the rather staccato quality of the dialog. See more »
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 »
Sternberg and Dietrich make this great despite Clive Brook
As others have mentioned this is one of the great films of the 1930's. All films eventually become dated even the movies our younger reviewers might think are timeless e.g. "Pulp Fiction" or "Lord of the Rings" will someday be seen as old fashioned or of their time . That said great film-making is always worth watching and Josef von Sternberg was one of Hollywood's first directors with artistic vision. It shows in the extraordinary opening sequence and throughout; particularly the night time search for the suspected spy. Dietrich was the sexiest woman in films at that time and she's still sexy. It's interesting to note that many of the top female stars during this time period were European. Dietrich, Garbo, Hedy Lamaar. Present day Hollywood has nothing to compare with them. The same can be said for astonishing Anna May Wong the scenes with her and Marlene are pure erotic fantasy on a grand scale. Shanghai Express would be perfect if it weren't for the god awful Clive Brook, as others have mentioned, he is terrible,wooden,stiff,corpse like. Brook is the films single most reason for appearing dated. 9/10
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