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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First, the quality of the visual reproduction is outstanding. It's my favorite Dietrich/von Sternberg film by far which I first saw long ago (over & over) in film classes with... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ric Kallaher
Marlene Dietrich is one of the greatest Femme Fatales of Hollywood for all time; and she gave it all up during WWII in order to help entertain allied nation's soldiers and airmen.Published 2 months ago by Cool Water Sam
Marlene is so beautiful in this film and von Sternberg lets the audience see that as his camera doesn't miss a chance to rest the lens as often as possible.Published 5 months ago by Gary Bodwin
Classic with trains and many good caricature actors supporting Marlene Dietrich. Train fans will like the steam whistles, bells and close ups of running gear with the hustle and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jan Zweerts
I was searching for a movie to have on hand for late night viewing. Took a risk buying this. Because it was a little pricier than some of the other film noir's. Read morePublished 6 months ago by erin
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