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.
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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
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.
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.
i think this looks better without comparison to the other dietrich/von sternberg collaborations, but in the context of the others (which is how i saw it) it felt mostly unmemorable besides a few classic marlene moments and a generous handful of beautiful shots
Dietrich was more herself in Wilder's "A Foreign Affair," and she gave a more captivating performance in the Borzage/Lubitsch "Desire," but in "Shanghai Express" she was at her most ironic. There has never been and there will never be anyone like her. This film was very influential and you can still see why.