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 »
A struggling young actress with a six-year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.
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 »
Film told in flashbacks of an older man's obsession for a woman who can belong to no-one but can frustrate everyone. The backdrop is SternbergÍs surreal and fantastic Carnaval in Spain. In ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Edward Everett Horton
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 Charteris, wealthy entrepreneur, has purchased a large area of Shanghai, forcing Gin Sling to vacate by the coming Chinese New Year. Under orders from Gin Sling, who has found out Poppy is Charteris' daughter, the smarmy Doctor Omar leads Poppy deeper and deeper into an addiction to gambling and alcohol. Gin Sling, realizing that Charteris was her long-ago husband who she thinks abandoned her, plans her revenge by inviting Charteris to a Chinese New Year dinner party to expose his past indiscretions. Charteris, however, has a suprise of his own to spring on Gin Sling. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During the 1930s Cecil B. DeMille wanted to film John Colton's play with Jetta Goudal as Mother Goddam, but Censorship Czar Will Hays would not lift his ban on the play. See more »
The moving finger writes, and having writ - it moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.
See more »
Opening credits: "Years ago a speck was torn away from the mystery of China and became Shanghai. A distorted mirror of problems that beset the world today, it grew into a refuge for people who wished to live between the lines of laws and customs - - a modern Tower of Babel. Neither Chinese, European, British nor American it maintained itself for years in the ever increasing whirlpool of war. Its destiny, at present, is in the lap of the Gods - - as is the destiny of all cities. Our story has nothing to do with the present." See more »
Seductively decadent! "It smells so incredibly evil" says the beautiful protagonist, intoxicated by the very repugnance of the place,"I didn't think a place like this existed except in my imagination." The place is called Mother Ginsling's Casino which exists in the volatile morally ambiguous no-man's land that was Shanghai during the 1940's. Controlled by the "most cold blooded dragon you'll ever meet", Madame Ginsling, a scholar of human folly and master manipulator of their emotions, the Casino is threatened with closure by a powerful English business man, ironically not for morality but because she's an impediment to his expanding empire. But like any cunning predator, Ginsling searches for Sir Guy Charteris's Achilles heel and finds it in his beautiful, but not-so-innocently curious daughter Poppy Smith, who's curiosity with Ginsling's establishment quickly turns into an addiction. In about 20 minutes time, director Josef Von Sternberg will turn this heart-stopping beautiful and sophisticated girl into a babbling tramp, and considering that Poppy is played by Gene Tierney at her prime, this is a remarkable achievement! SHANGHAI GESTURE illustrates how skillful understatement in a master's hand can be scorchingly sensual and overtly decadent without even raising an eyebrow of the modern censor. Powerful performances by Tierney, Walter Houston, and Ona Munson. A masterpiece!
17 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?