Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • TBC
  • Adventure, Drama
  • 1932
  • 84 mins

Shanghai Express

Shanghai Express


Marlene Dietrich's call girl Shanghai Lil is caught up in a web of intrigue in this exotic, train-set adventure


Train journeys are only ever exciting in the movies, and they rarely come better than this Dietrich classic (which picked up a slew of Oscar nominations, including Best Film and Best Director for Sternberg, but ultimately only won for Garmes' stunning cinematography).

This time the train in question is travelling from Shanghai to Peking during the Chinese Civil War, playing host to the usual array of problematic characters. All manner of disasters occur, mainly as a result of the train being stormed by government troops, but the romantic sub-plot involves the shenanigans of high-class prostitute Shanghai Lily (Dietrich) and her ex-lover (Brook) who also happens to be travelling first-class. You can see where the big budget, starry 1970s disaster flicks got their inspiration from but, with its classy acting and scenery, this is a hundred times better, while Dietrich commands the screen as the hooker with a past

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Anna May Wong, Lawrence Grant, Clive Brook, Warner Oland, Marlene Dietrich, Eugene Pallette
  • Director: Josef Von Sternberg
  • Writer: Jules Furthman
  • Producer: Adolph Zukor
  • Photographer: Lee Garmes

In a nutshell

Dietrich illuminates this stylish adventure, and it remains a high point among her many collaborations with director Von Sternberg.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4


    AnnaLynne McCord stars as a teenager with an unhealthy fascination with gore and surgery.

  • Film4

    100 Bloody Acres

    A gloriously gory, side-splittingly funny horror from Down Under.

  • Film4

    FilmFear on Film4

    This Halloween, Film4 becomes FilmFear. Join us for seven nights of petrifying premieres and classics from the crypt.

  • Film4

    Wake In Fright on Film4

    A notorious 1970s nightmare from Australia. The network premiere of Wake In Fright, this Halloween on FilmFear.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register