About Shanghai Express

Marlene Dietrich is 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. On board, she is surrounded by a motley crew of foreigners and lowlifes, including a fellow fallen woman (Anna May Wong), an old flame (Clive Brook), and a rebel leader wanted by the authorities (Warner Oland). As tensions come to a boil, director Josef von Sternberg delivers one breathtaking image after another, enveloping his star in a decadent profusion of feathers, furs, and cigarette smoke. The result is a triumph of studio filmmaking and a testament to the mythic power of Hollywood glamour. — The Criterion Collection [82 min; drama; French, Cantonese, German, and English]

This screening is in partnership with the City Lights Film Series.

"Von Sternberg, by sheer hypnosis, chicanery, or what you will, continues to make every gesture, every spoken monosyllable, seem momentously important to the welfare of his pictures." — Philip K. Scheuer, Los Angeles Times

"You can feel the whole thing surging forward like a mighty steam-roller, vivid and exciting, beating headlong into a stirring crescendo that tinkles notes of accented harmony." — Harold V. Cohen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"The film has compensating strength in the star [Marlene Dietrich], who photographs more beautifully than before and, though she is acted off the screen by Anna May Wong, shows herself unique in Hollywood by being majestically beautiful." — Robert Herrind, The Guardian

Any film screened at IU Cinema may contain content that viewers find sensitive or upsetting. Visit our Audience Advisories page to learn more.

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