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Shanghai Express

4.3 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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(Oct 08, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

One of the most famous and influential star-director collaborations in the history of cinema, Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg made seven features together which immortalized the actress as a glamorous and enigmatic movie siren while confirming the director's reputation as a supreme stylist of mood, atmosphere and eroticism through his dazzling command of the medium. Set against the backdrop of a Chinese civil war, SHANGHAI EXPRESS is an opulent romantic adventure that focuses on a diverse group of passengers traveling by express train from Peking to Shanghai. Among them is Captain Doc Harvey (Clive Brook), who finds himself, reunited with his former lover, now an infamous adventuress who calls herself Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich). Desire and deception follow, culminating in a tense hostage situation when their train is hijacked by a Chinese warlord.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook
  • Directors: Josef von Sternberg
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • DVD Release Date: October 8, 2012
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00A01CQIS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,830 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
"Shanghai Express", is one of those films that very aptly fits into the category of "they sure dont make them like this anymore". Boasting hauntingly beautiful camera work and photography, the film being very much a product of the glamourous 1930's treats its leading ladies face as if it was a rare icon throughout the films running time. These haunting images are the work of Joseph Von Sternberg, the genius who was responsible for creating so much of the mystic around Marlene Dietrich in classic roles like "Morocco", "Blonde Venus", and "The Scarlet Empress".
Exotica is the one word that constantly comes to mind when viewing "Shanghai Express". It's not so much the storyline (which in actual fact while entertaining is rather trite) that holds your attention so much as the ever more amazing series of "photographic images" that are made of Marlene Dietrich throughout the film wrapped up as she is in exotic furs, black feathers or shrouded in cigarette smoke or partial shadows. They truly are what Hollywood glamour at this time was all about and they were responsible for creating some unforgettable visual images of Dietrich that have gone down in Hollywood folklore. "Shanghai Express" tells the story of a disparate group of passengers on the express train travelling to Shanghai during the Chinese civil war. Along the way we get to findout abit more about each of the passengers before the train is hijacked by a warlord who is travelling on the train. Dietrich plays one of her most famous characters in Shanghai Lily, a lady of ill repute who makes the memorable statement that "it took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily". On board the train she encounters her great love from 5 years previous Capt. Donald Harvey (Clive Brook) a man who has never got over his great passion for her.
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Format: VHS Tape
A remarkable and mystically exotic story of love and destruction - the kind of film for which both star and director became legends. As "the White Flower of Chinese coast" Marlene speaks her most famous line in the film: "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily"! Dietrich, as always gave Von Sternberg the exact performance he envisioned while Clive Brook is pretty good as Captain Harvey, the object of Marlene's affection. Anna May Wong had probably her best Hollywood role as Hui Fei, the prostitute in search of redemption; she had been raped by insatiable rebel leader Oland. The story on which this movie is based is clearly drawn from Guy de Maupassant's classic short story of a French prostitute - "Boule de Suif". The photography of this film is in every respect excellent (Lee Garmes). Dietrich was dressed by Travis Banton for this and she looks truly ravishing throughout the movie (the film made 3 million dollars in the depressed year of 1932).
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Format: DVD
There is a selection of dialogue between the french retired army officer and Oland's character that has disappeared. It is pivitol in that it explains that he is a disgraced army officer who only wears his uniform to hide his shame from his sister. while it is only two minutes or less of dialogue, it has been cut for some unknown reason out of prints in the last ten years. an old showing on PBS years ago had it uncut, but all the dvd releases both in the US and europe (I have a PAL copy from the UK) as well as all showings on TCM show the version with this piece missing
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Here is the legendary film that spawned hundreds of imitators, starring the one and only Marlene Dietrich in her early Hollywood signature role of Shanghai Lily. Actually, anybody else in this role would have been silly. Only a mysterious creature like Dietrich could carry this off.
More of an ensemble picture than one would think, the film has a pretty straight-forward plot, which is unusual for a Von Sternberg film. Dietrich plays a coaster, which is a polite term for a hooker, in China. she and group of other strangers board the Shanghai Express enroute to Shanghai. On board, she encounters former love Captain Harvey, who is about as warm as ice water. During the trip, the train is hijacked by Chinese rebels, and Lily must choose to sacrifice herself for her former(and still) love to save his life.
As I said, it all sounds hackneyed, but when watching, one can't help but be mesmerized. Dietrich is at her most exotic and alluring in this role, and you really can't take your eyes off of her. She carries the entire film in her hands, and the ending is the only one you can accept. Pure Hollywood hokum, but pure magic as well. Get this film and see for yourself. I highly recommend it!
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Format: VHS Tape
Paramount's SHANGHAI EXPRESS is an adventure story and above all a love story about Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich) and Captain Harvey (Clive Brook) who used to be her lover. Most of the action takes place on a train which is held up by Chinese bandits.
SHANGHAI EXPRESS stands as one of the best of Marlene Dietrich's performances with Josef von Sternberg as director. What I also find especially intriguing about this classic gem are the appearances of Warner Oland and Anna May Wong in important supporting roles.
Although he is best remembered as Charlie Chan, the Swedish actor Warner Oland had in addition a distinguished film career playing a variety of heavies. He was Colonel von Hindau in DISHONORED with Marlene Dietrich in 1931. This movie was also directed by Josef von Sternberg.
Anna May Wong had an equally illustrious career. One early success before sound was her role as a Mongol slave in THE THIEF OF BAGDAD with Douglas Fairbanks in 1924.
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