Take Marlene Dietrich at the height of her stardom, stick her in tight quarters with fellow screen siren Anna May Wong, and surround them with a band of lowlifes, and you have the recipe for pre-Code Hollywood at its lavish, salacious best. Released in 1932, Shanghai Express was the commercial pinnacle of Dietrich’s collaboration with the filmmaker Josef von Sternberg, following the tensions that arise on a train moving through a studio fantasy of war-torn China. Despite the seedy setting, every shot oozes intrigue and glamour, a testament to the sultriness of the film’s cigarette-puffing, perpetually preening star and the imagination of its visionary director. Classic Hollywood lovers in Tucson, Arizona, have one chance to see this movie on the big screen, when the Loft Cinema plays it tonight in the glimmering restoration we completed for our recent Dietrich–von Sternberg box set last year.
Two Stark Visions of the American Underbelly Hit the Big Screen
A new restoration of the groundbreaking vérité documentary Streetwise joins its companion piece, Tiny: the Life of Eric Blackwell, at New York’s Metrograph theater this weekend.