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Shanghai Express (1932) Poster

Trivia

The extras in the film are all speaking Cantonese, a Chinese dialect focused mainly in southern China. If the film were to be more true to life, the extras would be speaking Mandarin, a more spoken dialect. However, most Chinese residents in the Los Angeles area spoke Cantonese, making von Sternberg use Cantonese.
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.
The Hays Office expressed concern about the unlikable character of the minister, which prompted a revision of the script. Other concerns included the remark by Chang that he was not proud of his white blood, but that line remains in the print.
China initially banned the movie, demanding its withdrawal from worldwide circulation. The ban was lifted when Paramount pledged not to make another film involving Chinese politics.
1000 extras were used in the making of the movie
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).
This was the highest grossing film of 1932 in USA and Canada.
Howard Hawks made an uncredited contribution to the screenplay.
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Director Josef von Sternberg designed the atmospheric sets alongside art director Hans Dreier.
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The black-and-white leather gloves Dietrich wears at the start of the film were custom-made by Hermes.
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One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its television premiere took place Friday 2 January 1959 on KPIX (Channel 5), launching the MCA/Paramount Film Library in San Francisco. It first aired in Milwaukee 30 May 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11), in Toledo 22 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), in Philadelphia 5 September 1960 on WCAU (Channel 10), in Detroit 9 September 1960 on WJBK (Channel 2), and in Cleveland 18 October 1960 on WJW (Channel 8). It was released on DVD 6 February 2012 in tandem with Dishonored (1931) by Turner Classic Movies and Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and has also enjoyed an occasional airing on cable TV on TCM.
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When Shanghai Lily and Harvey go into the final clinch, there is an advert for Guinness on the wall behind them.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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