While traveling on a train from Peking to Shanghai, a notorious prostitute named Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich) runs into her former flame (Clive Brook) who is held hostage and whom she could intervene to save.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
After an underwhelming run of catching up on this year's Oscar contenders, it was refreshing to revisit a classic of pre-Code Hollywood weirdness. Don't go into a Sternberg movie expecting an airtight tale of intrigue. His method is more to drop a woman like Marlene Dietrich—not to mention Anna May Wong—into the middle of a flimsy plot whose action is ostensibly driven by (much less interesting) men. A wet nightmare.
Surely iconic, Shanghai Express is to be watched in a psychotropic mood of fascination or terminal, bridge-burning melancholy. Formal, uncommitted, an-intense, non-seducing, transported beyond critical negativity (its human interactions are either arthritic like society games of manners or wearing their hearts on starched sleeves) & positive feedback, it is a piece of film DNA & early example of hyperrealism that may
Esta pelicula contiene unos los mejores encuadres de Marlene Dietrich en el cine y la escencia de los personajes que la hizo la famosa femme fatale del cine. Lo mejor es el descenlace de una pelicula que parece no va a ninguna parte, con un ritmo soso y personajes de relleno. Destaca la fotografía y el sonido, un constante sonar del tren sobre los dialogos.
Von Sternberg and Dietrich's collaborations have been such a great revelation for me. Working through them chronologically we see the evolution of style for both. Von Sternberg placing many of the world's major players in a microcosm where doors are constantly being opened and closed and communication between people is often confused. Playing on the time's strict moral codes using faith and trust as its vessels.
Behind the silk curtains is the land of nostalgia. The way that goes through the smoke leads to the territory of lights and shadows, such a fragile place that even the gaze seems to break it. It's not the real China; it's a far more distant world.