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The Shanghai Gesture (1941) Poster

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.
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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.
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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.
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The first telecasts of this film occurred in New York City Monday 19 May 1947 on the DuMont Television Network's WABD (Channel 5), in Baltimore Sunday 9 November 1947 on WMAR (Channel 2), in Los Angeles Sunday 28 December 1947 on DuMont's KTLA (Channel 5), in Cincinnati Monday 22 March 1948 on WLWT (Channel 4), and in Chicago Saturday 12 June 1948 on WGN (Channel 9).
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The last Hollywood film that Josef von Sternberg saw through to completion - he was fired from Macao (1952) and Jet Pilot (1957).
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There were an estimated 32 attempts to turn the play into a film, including the one by Cecil B. DeMille.
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The opening credits feature an unusual call-out to extras.
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The mural that appears in the casino was painted by actor Keye Luke.
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The censors at the Breen Office insisted on over 30 amendments before they allowed it to be passed.
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Although billed highly in the credits, Maria Ouspenskaya has no dialogue whatsoever in the film. This is down to the fact that preview audiences roared with laughter at her thick Russian accent - slightly inappropriate, given that she was playing a Chinese woman.
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Ona Munson had to be persuaded by Josef von Sternberg into taking on the role of Gin Sling after he had tried unsuccessfully to get Gloria Swanson and Anna May Wong for the part. The fact that Munson was American was the first of her concerns about the part.
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