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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:

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

Production Co:

Arnold Pressburger Films See more »
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

The opening credits feature an unusual call-out to extras. 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

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

In my top 15
27 November 2003 | by lucy-19See all my reviews

Don't believe anyone who tells you this movie is bad - it is wonderful. The casino set with its art deco sculptures is a work of art and the music is superb. The play the script is based on is by John P. Marquand, who wrote the Mr. Moto books. I think in the original Poppy becomes addicted to drugs as well as to Dr. Omar. Gene Tierney is great as the girl who slides into degeneracy. All the ensemble cast are wonderful: the earthy chorus girl, the sinister old Chinese man who says he admires white women for their "intelligence and sense of humour" as his hands outline a voluptuous figure in the air. Mike Mazurski as a thug who acts as an ever-present Fate figure haunting Sir Guy Charteris (Walter Huston). The elderly notable who regrets so politely that he must close Mother Gin Sling's operation down. Mother G herself with her bitter, drawling voice that has foresuffered all. See it if you can! This film is art! (Oh, I forgot the smiling character who plays Chopin in the casino/brothel.)


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