Shanghai Express

Shanghai Express ★★★★

Feels somehow shackled like no other von Sternberg I've seen, perhaps because so much of it is given over to out-and-out comedy (or at least comic relief), which I doubt anyone would consider his strong suit. Still mostly magical, though, and at some point Marlene Dietrich being so hopelessly out of her romantic interest's league just becomes another piece of the scenery. He gets the twisted jealousy about right, but becomes seriously outmatched whenever the time comes for the two of them to be romantic together. She more than picks up the slack, though - when she puts on his hat and smiles wryly, it occurred to me that all his part really requires is a place to put the hat.

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