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." With Clive Brook, Warner Oland, and Anna May Wong; photographed by Lee Garmes.
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