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SHANGHAI EXPRESS

USA, 1932 (MIFF 1967, Programme 16)

Director: Josef von Sternberg

On a train journey from Peiping to Shanghai, Shanghai Lily, notorious white prostitute, meets an old flame, Captain Harvey. The train is stopped by revolutionists led by Chang, and Harvey is held as a hostage. Lily makes a sacrifice...

Shanghai Express was one of Sternberg's greatest popular successes; the director's flair for impulsive fatalism finds more play here than elsewhere. It has a limited number of characters, all meticulously etched, highly atmospheric sets and innumerable striking photographic compositions. The film abounds in lush suggestions of intrigue and illusion, and its director earned his reputation for being able to suggest emotion through his careful control of light and shadow.

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