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The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,789 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 »

Writers:

(adaptation), (collaborator for adaptation), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Poppy
...
Sir Guy Charteris
...
Doctor Omar
Ona Munson ...
'Mother' Gin Sling
Phyllis Brooks ...
The Chorus Girl
Albert Bassermann ...
The Commissioner
Maria Ouspenskaya ...
The Amah
Eric Blore ...
The Bookkeeper
Ivan Lebedeff ...
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)
Edit

Storyline

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 <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Mystery-lure of the Far East! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

15 January 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shangai, ville de folies  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length) | (1981) (restored)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In the play, the setting was a brothel run by "Mother Goddam", who was once sold into prostitution, and it dealt with drug addition and nymphomania as well. Many initial adaptations of the original play were rejected by the Hays office, and they discouraged studios from making the film. The Chinese consulate also voiced objections to the portrayal of the Chinese in the play. See more »

Quotes

'Mother' Gin Sling: [of an ordinance that would outlaw her establishment] I've lived by my own ordinances for a long time now, and I intend to disregard all others.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Featured in The Society of the Spectacle (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Certainly among the most beautiful films ever
23 December 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the most beautiful films ever made. Von Sternberg had a strange and painterly way of composing a frame when he shot his films. In earlier films the scenes abounded in detail, and often had layers that would stretch back into the distance, or simply add complexity and a sense of the tumult of the living all around. In this film he seemed to change his focus to the glamorous portrait, and brought to life some of the most stunning shots of actors I have ever seen.

If you wish to see the breathtaking beauty of Gene Tierney at its height that this is the film to see it. She's so willful and spoiled, suggesting the nymphomaniac that nobody could suggest any other way thanks to the censorship. Everyone in the film seems to licking their lips in anticipation of some decadent delight that will be happening off screen. And time and time again Sternberg throws up another static, stagy, yet impossibly beautiful portrait of one of his stars.

The scent of opium and sex practically oozes from every frame.


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