Shanghai Express [1932]

Josef von Sternberg gets really exotic here with Marlene Dietrich and the story of her adventures on a train en route to Shanghai, where she is reunited with a lover who jilted her (Clive Brook). When the train is overtaken by Chinese rebels, Brook is held hostage and the rebel leader (Warner Oland of Charlie Chan fame) takes a liking to Dietrich. The notorious adventurer fiendishly strikes a bargain to save Brook, whom she's never stopped loving. This is one of the most intriguing von Sternberg-Dietrich films not only because of its exotic style and setting but because of its passionate love story. --Bill Desowitz

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