Many passengers on the Shanghai Express are more concerned that the notorious Shanghai Lil is on board than the fact that a civil war is going on that may make the trip take more than three days. The British Army doctor, Donald Harvey, knew Lil before she became a famous "coaster." A fellow passenger defines a coaster as "a woman who lives by her wits along the China coast." When Chinese guerillas stop the train, Dr. Harvey is selected as the hostage. Lil saves him, but can she make him believe that she really hasn't changed from the woman he loved five years before?Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Comments in the AFI Catalogue suggest the credits were changed when re-released in 1935. According to the Catalogue, the original print referred to Harry Herveys work as a novel. In the viewed print on TCM, the onscreen credit was "story." The print was clearly a re-released print because of the PCA certificate number listed onscreen; such numbers were not issued until 1934. It is not known what other changes were made, if any, but the print ran only 82 minutes, suggesting some additional editing had been done. See more »
Every frame, with Marlene Dietrich in it, is a masterpiece of lights and shadows. The artistic marriage of Dietrich and his director Josef Von Sternberg is all consuming and therefore we're trapped, happily so. Look at what the camera does with Dietrich's face when she delivers the iconic line: "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lilly" I had to rewind immediately and see the moment again, one, two, three times. Dietrich is dressed, lit and photographed like a goddess, the human kind. I wonder if we're ever going to see the likes of her, the likes of them, ever again.
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