Shanghai Express - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shanghai Express Reviews

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½ August 25, 2015
Quintessential Dietrich in an exotic land plagued by revolution. The framing of Dietrich was well done.
½ August 28, 2015
I am not in love with this film, although it's admirable what von Sternberg was able to accomplish on a sound stage. The film really does feel like it was shot on location in China. Marlene Dietrich is amazing as usual, but although she has one of the more prominent roles, the film is really an ensemble story.
August 22, 2015
Marlene Dietrich never looked more glamorous in this pre-code drama. Think Grand Hotel on a train. There are some intense moments, but the coloful cast of characters and of course Dietrich herself keep this ride going from start to finish.

Grade: A-
April 2, 2015
Mildly entertaining. I never had found Dietrich attractive before, but here I must admit she was quite beautiful.
½ March 13, 2015
There isn't much to outright dislike about "Shanghai Express", except maybe for the recurring, casual, antiquated fits of racism, but there isn't much to like about it, either. Sure, it won the Oscar for Best Cinematography at the 5th (1932) Academy Awards, but that was based more on its technique, the use of chiaroscuro (contrast in shadows) which make some shots looks striking, and the creative editing. The technique, though, was really only used to show off, and there isn't much of a sense of atmosphere, and it really doesn't feel as if our characters are in Shanghai most of the time. Based on a true story which involved about 300 Chinese people and 20 or so westerners who were held hostage on the Shanghai Express, this film naturally focuses on the whites, with only 2 of the Chinese characters (one of whom, the villain, is half-white), getting major screen-time, and that's really only to develop the plot, too. The acting is also pretty inconsistent, with laughable line delivery even from the star, Marlene Dietrich, who seems to be reading from a script rather than embodying her supposedly legendary Shanghai Lily character. This is a film I wanted, and expected, to love, but one that I really couldn't because it failed to immerse me in its world like superior films of its day (see: Grand Hotel and Bad Girl, both superior Best Picture-nominated films that year).
½ January 18, 2015
Old movie with a goddess Marlene Dietrich , inolvidable verla fumando.
March 27, 2011
Simple, but pretty effective romance/adventure. There are several iconic shots of Marlene Dietrich in this one - what a beautiful woman!
½ August 29, 2014
Is wrong for me to say that this feels like "Stagecoach" set in a train in China instead of the Old West? Well, feels that way at least and that's a compliment. Marlene Dietrich leads an excellent ensemble cast as "Shanghai Lilly", an "escort" of sorts traveling to Shanghai on a train with a group of characters in the middle of a Chinese civil war. The film is superbly crafted, has sprinklings of humor along with some genuine suspense but I'm surprised it's also kind of moving and sweet in the end. Dietrich's character is kind of almost the opposite of her character in "The Blue Angel".
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2014
Marlene Dietrich makes this film go. Very stylish and the action is compelling.
½ October 15, 2012
Shanghai Express has solid performances from its leads, luminous presence from Dietrich, as always smart dialogue and it is an overall entertaining film, but it is never anything more than that - a solid story with wonderful acting and conventional ending.
June 26, 2012
This film is without a doubt one of the most stylish ever made.
½ April 7, 2012
Dietrich is dynamite in this movie which - whilst eminently enjoyable - should not be taken too seriously. Her best line: "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily." L
½ February 17, 2012
Marlene Dietrich stars as "Shanghai Lily", a woman of some ill repute traveling across China in a passenger train. The other passengers have nothing but contempt for her and her female companion (Anna May Wong). Well, everyone but Captain Harvey (Clive Brook). He and Marlene had a relationship years ago, but the Captain didn't trust her and threw her over. Since then, she's been wandering the Chinese countryside, destroying men's lives wherever she goes. When Mr. Chang (Warner Oland, known for his role as Charlie Chan) turns out to be the leader of a rebel force, we learn to what extent Marlene still loves the captain and to what extent she will go to protect him. Despite exotic locales and characters, it's Dietrich who is the sole reason for watching "Shanghai Express". She's incredibly beautiful, emotive, and her costumes are a movie unto themselves. Director Josef von Sternberg knows how to shoot his leading lady, and there are moments when Dietrich's face is as beautiful as a framed work of art.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
February 17, 2012
Marlene Dietrich stars as "Shanghai Lily", a woman of some ill repute traveling across China in a passenger train. The other passengers have nothing but contempt for her and her female companion (Anna May Wong). Well, everyone but Captain Harvey (Clive Brook). He and Marlene had a relationship years ago, but the Captain didn't trust her and threw her over. Since then, she's been wandering the Chinese countryside, destroying men's lives wherever she goes. When Mr. Chang (Warner Oland, known for his role as Charlie Chan) turns out to be the leader of a rebel force, we learn to what extent Marlene still loves the captain and to what extent she will go to protect him. Despite exotic locales and characters, it's Dietrich who is the sole reason for watching "Shanghai Express". She's incredibly beautiful, emotive, and her costumes are a movie unto themselves. Director Josef von Sternberg knows how to shoot his leading lady, and there are moments when Dietrich's face is as beautiful as a framed work of art.
January 28, 2012
You can't watch the way Josef von Sternberg directs and Lee Garmes lights Marlene Dietrich and not understand how the star system produced such swelled egos; it's a high key love letter to female beauty. Whether Dietrich deserved such treatment is always debatable, but she is especially sphinx-like here in an early 30's expressionistic train thriller.
January 4, 2012
Anna May Wong (The First Chinese American Movie Star)
December 12, 2011
E niente, oggi un film del genere chi lo guarderebbe? In realtŗ, per quanto noioso possa essere per una generazione come la nostra abituata ad altri tipi di film e di parametri, Shanghai Express Ť in fin dei conti una lezione di storia fatta benissimo. La Dietrich Ť bellissima e Anna May Wong idem, entrambe bellezze stereotipatissime e volutamente (esotiche), come Ť esotica la Cina nella quale recitano.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
May 8, 2011
Marlene is terrific in this as is Anna May Wong. Banton's creations for them are eye popping but the whole thing is almost undone by the dreadful perfomance by Clive Brook.. Marlene's passion for him comes across as a mystery since he is a block of wood throughout the film.
July 26, 2011
More popular than I expected for an Oscar nominated film of 1931/32.
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