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314 Ratings

The Shanghai Gesture

Directed by Josef von Sternberg
United States, 1941
Film noir


Mother Gin Sling finds her casino threatened with closing by English financier Sir Guy Charteris. Gin Sling knows that the key to keeping her gambling den open is to dig up some dirt on Sir Guy. She finds out that his grown-up daughter, Poppy, is a frequent and deeply indebted guest of the casino.

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The Shanghai Gesture Directed by Josef von Sternberg

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1943 | 2 nominations including: Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White

Critics reviews

Our story has nothing to do with the present, warns an opening caption – and I’m totally up for that, a dreamlike escapist concoction based on visual allure, set in a place of fake names, different races and “thoroughbred mongrels”. The problem is that a plot of sorts keeps stuttering through the action, just enough to make it clear that it’s choppy and confusing.
July 11, 2015
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Its spirit—simultaneously ineffable and wiseass, aroused and bored, heavy and free—is best summed up by Mature’s proto-punk exchange with Tierney: “You said Doctor Omar. Doctor of what?” “Doctor of nothing.”
October 24, 2014
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Breen’s office interference aside, ‘The Shanghai Gesture’ endures as a mesmerizing celluloid dreamscape, unscathed by Hollywood’s attempts to rein in an uncompromising visionary constitutionally incapable of following any dictum other than his own perfectionism, and a belief in the power of light and shadows to bring his hand crafted human marionettes to life.
October 18, 2013
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