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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 <email@example.com>
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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