Capital Celluloid 2020 — Day 119: Thu Dec 3

Shanghai Express (Dietrich, 1932): BFI Southbank, 8.40pm

This day heralds the opening of the Marlene Dietrich season (details here) at BFI Southbank. This film screens on December 7th, 23rd, 27th and 29th (all times here).

Chicago Reader review: More action oriented than the other Dietrich-Sternberg films, this 1932 production is nevertheless one of the most elegantly styled. The setting, a broken-down train commandeered by revolutionaries on its way to Shanghai, becomes a maze of soft shadows and shifting textures, through which the characters wander in a philosophical quest for something—anything—solid. The screenplay, by Jules Furthman and an uncredited Howard Hawks, has a quality of wisecracking wit unusual in Sternberg's films: when someone asks Dietrich why she's going to Shanghai, she retorts, "To buy a new hat." Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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