Many passengers on the Shanghai Express are more concerned that the notorious Shanghai Lil is on board than the fact that a civil war is going on that may make the trip take more than three days. The British Army doctor, Donald Harvey, knew Lil before she became a famous "coaster." A fellow passenger defines a coaster as "a woman who lives by her wits along the China coast." When Chinese guerillas stop the train, Dr. Harvey is selected as the hostage.
Filmmaker-svengali Josef von Sternberg escalates his obsession with screen legend Marlene Dietrich in this lavish depiction of sex and deceit in the eighteenth-century Russian court. A self-proclaimed “relentless excursion into style,” the pair’s sixth collaboration follows the exploits of Princess Sophia (Dietrich) as she evolves from trembling innocent to cunning sexual libertine Catherine the Great. With operatic melodrama, flamboyant visuals, and a cast of thousands, this ornate spectacle represents the apex of cinematic pageantry by Hollywood’s master of artifice.
This version is almost the exact same as the German version, but of course in English. That means it is still wonderful, but with all of the "Unrath" puns removed. The only reason to just stick with the German is because most of the language in this film is either still German, or hard to understand due to th actors' thick accents, Marlene, surprisingly, is perfectly accent less despite not knowing any English. Fans of the German version should still just check it out as a historical novelty and see how similar and/or different the film is.
"The Blue Angel" will always have a place in film history as the movie that brought Marlene Dietrich to international stardom. At the time it was made, at the birth of the sound era in 1929, it was seen as a vehicle for Emil Jannings, the German actor who had just won the first Academy Award for best actor. Dietrich's overnight stardom inspired distributors to recut the film, ending it with one of her songs instead of his pathetic closing moments, and this restored version shows the entire film for the first time in years.
Director Josef Von Sternberg and his greatest discovery, Marlene Dietrich, worked together for the last time on this historical melodrama, which was a notorious and controversial box-office flop in its day. Antonio Galvan, a young military officer, meets a mysterious and alluring woman named Concha Perez and soon falls under her seductive spell. Antonio excitedly confesses his love for Concha to his friend Don Pasqual, an older and higher-ranking officer. Pasqual is horrified when he learns of Antonio's infatuation; years ago, he met Concha, and it was the start of a long and disastrous relationship in which the cold-hearted woman would repeatedly lure him into her romantic web..
Contemporary viewers who go into Dishonored expecting a musty, dated espionage melodrama will be in for a surprise. Marlene Dietrich delivers a subtle and witty performance as a Viennese prostitute who offers her services as a spy during WWI. As "Agent X-27" our heroine proves invaluable to her superiors, seducing and betraying enemy officers with the greatest of ease. But when she falls in love with Russian spy Lt. Kranau (Victor McLaglen), she permits him to escape her clutches, and as a consequence is sentenced to be executed..