Most helpful positive review
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
It took more than one man to name her "Shanghai Lily"
on 8 April 2009
Shanghai Express is a gorgeous film. If you like films of the 1930s, this one is a must-have. The actors and the locales are beautiful and exotic. The lead actors have real chemistry and the cast of supporting characters,played by the greatest character star actors of the '30s, is wonderful. All are interesting, engaging and fun to watch. The beautiful lighting is of major importance in creating the ambiance all through the film. The costumes, of their period, are lovely. The setting is wartime in China and the director, Joseph von Sternberg, while concentrating on the romance, still manages to convey wartime atmosphere without putting much overt blood and violence on the screen. Aside from the reunion and rekindling of the romance between Dietrich and handsome Clive Brook, there are sensitively told stories of the role racism played in the lives of two of the characters played by Anna May Wong and Warner Oland. The only aspect of the film which might be problematic for 21st century viewers is the very stagy acting. But I love it. Shanghai Express is one of my all-time favorite films. In the US and Canada you must have an all-region DVD player to watch this. I bought one to watch this and other great films only available in non-North American formats.