Jumat, 03 Juni 2011

Josef von Sternberg - Shanghai Express (1932)

Shanghai Express is an American 1932 film directed by Josef von Sternberg.

The pre-code era picture stars Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong, and Warner Oland. It was written by Jules Furthman, based on the story by Harry Hervey.

It was American-born director Sternberg's third of seven vehicles he would make with the German Marlene Dietrich.

The film is memorable for its stylistic black and white chiaroscuro cinematography, especially the exquisite north light to profile Dietrch.

Even though Lee Garmes is credited with the cinematography, according to Dietrich, it was Sternberg who directed most of the cinematography.

Shanghai Express is one of the best, and arguably the most popular, of the seven films that director Josef von Sternberg made with Marlene Dietrich. As usual, the strikingly photographed Dietrich looks like a goddess, but she also delivers a fine performance as Shanghai Lily, a woman of debatable reputation. Von Sternberg creates a suspenseful atmosphere, rich with memorable characterizations. Still, the film's visual design is its most distinctive aspect; Lee Garmes' cinematography won him an Academy Award. In keeping with the overall look, Shanghai's sets and costumes are brilliantly ornate. The story would be remade in 1942 as the little-seen Night Plane from Chungking and in 1951 as Peking Express, neither of which could achieve the allure of the von Sternberg production, which was also nominated for Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director.

-- Brendon Hanley,


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