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The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 15 January 1942 (USA)
In Shanghai, dragon-lady 'Mother' Gin Sling operates a gambling house for wealthy patrons but she clashes with influential land developer Sir Guy Charteris who wants to put her out-of-business.

Writers:

Josef von Sternberg (adaptation), Geza Herczeg (collaborator for adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Tierney ... Poppy
Walter Huston ... Sir Guy Charteris
Victor Mature ... 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
Mike Mazurki ... The Coolie
Clyde Fillmore Clyde Fillmore ... The Comprador
Grayce Hampton ... The Social Leader
Rex Evans Rex Evans ... The Counselor
Mikhail Rasumny ... The Appraiser (as Mikhail Rasumni)
Michael Dalmatoff Michael Dalmatoff ... The Bartender (as Michael Delmatoff)
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Chinese

Release Date:

15 January 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La pecadora de Shanghai See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length) | (1981) (restored)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Quotes

Poppy: The other places are like kindergardens compared with this. It smells so incredibly evil! I didn't think such a place existed except in my own imagination. It has a ghastly familiarity like a half-remembered dream. *Anything* could happen here... any moment...
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 »

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 stephen-357See 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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