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The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  15 January 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,928 users  
Reviews: 56 user | 25 critic

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 »


(adaptation), (collaborator for adaptation), 4 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sir Guy Charteris
Doctor Omar
'Mother' Gin Sling
Phyllis Brooks ...
The Chorus Girl
Albert Bassermann ...
The Commissioner
Maria Ouspenskaya ...
The Amah
Eric Blore ...
The Bookkeeper
The Gambler
The Coolie
Clyde Fillmore ...
The Comprador
Grayce Hampton ...
The Social Leader
Rex Evans ...
The Counselor
Mikhail Rasumny ...
The Appraiser (as Mikhail Rasumni)
Michael Dalmatoff ...
The Bartender (as Michael Delmatoff)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"POPPY"...the Victim of Vengeance! Her love of life and laughter led her to a most amazing doom! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




| |

Release Date:

15 January 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shangai, ville de folies  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(copyright length) | (1981) (restored)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, on 1 February 1926 and had 206 performances. The opening night cast included C. Henry Gordon, Mary Duncan and William Worthington, with Florence Reed in the role of "Mother Goddam." A 1928 revival included J. Carrol Naish, who was also tested for a part in the movie. See more »


Omar: 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 »

Crazy Credits

[after the cast credits] ... And a large cast of "HOLLYWOOD EXTRAS" who without expecting credit or mention stand ready day and night to do their best - - and who at their best are more than good enough to deserve mention. See more »


Referenced in The Man with Bogart's Face (1980) See more »


I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
(1918) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Carroll
Lyrics by Joseph McCarthy
Played on piano by Rex Evans at Gin Sling's dinner party
See more »

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User Reviews

9 October 2001 | by See all my reviews

It was more than I had hoped for. Hollywood forties film noir glamour...yet everyone is rotten to the core and no one wins. Great performances from a time when stars could act and made the most of a script...and what script! They sure don´t make them like that anymore. Such ideas...the unusual but people like them have probably existed...

Lovely Gene Tierney transcending her enchanting beauty showing that looks aren´t enough. Victor Mature also playing someone of great charm and little character. I like how the beautiful leads aren´t the heroes. No one is! Ona Munson - so amazing and otherwordly! Where are the strong character parts for women like that today??

The sumptuous sets, everything steeped in mystery. What an atmosphere von Sternberg created...! I loved it! I want so see more films like this and I could see it again. Is it available on video?

Thank you Hollywood!

30 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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