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The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  15 January 1942 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,907 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 »

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
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
...
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  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

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

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

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

Seductively decadent!
26 January 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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!


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