Shanghai Express

Shanghai Express

classified PG PS

When Europe Made Hollywood: From Sunrise to High Noon


Please note: This was screened in July 2022

Josef von Sternberg
Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong
82 mins, Partially Subtitled, 1932, USA
Primary language

Shanghai Express marks the commercial peak of the iconic collaboration between director Joseph von Sternberg and his screen muse Marlene Dietrich, with Dietrich here at her wicked best as Shanghai Lily, a courtesan whose reputation brings a hint of scandal to a three-day train ride through war-torn China.

Tasked by Paramount bosses to find ‘the next big thing’, Austrian born director Josef von Sternberg lighted upon German silent star Marlene Dietrich, bringing her to Hollywood following the success of their landmark German-made film The Blue Angel (1930).

Arriving in Hollywood at the dawn of the talkies, Dietrich and Von Sternberg had a seismic impact with a series of striking feature films marked by sensuous cinematography, beautiful design and elaborate camerawork. These visually intoxicating films redefined the visual style of filmmaking of the time, while Dietrich’s sexually ambiguous on-screen personas caused a sensation and turned her from actor to superstar and icon.

A 4K restoration courtesy of Park Circus.