Josef Von Sternberg

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Margaret Marshall

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 154

The direction and the photography, both sound and silent, of "Shanghai Express" … are of such excellence that only a first-rate story could match them. Unfortunately, the plot is hackneyed and intricate; what is more serious, it seems to be a superimposed mechanism rather than an organic part of the production…. The device of numberless swift kaleidoscopic shots is, of course, not new. But the vibrancy and freshness of treatment must be credited to the direction of Josef von Sternberg. It is he who makes the illusion of a train traveling through strange, war-ridden China [convincingly real]…. The characterizations are real, too, especially the lesser ones, which belong rather to the setting than to the story. It is only in so far as these very real characters are forced to take part in an unlikely plot that the illusion fades. (pp. 267-68)

Margaret Marshall, "A Chinese Episode," in The Nation, Vol. 134, No. 3478, March 2, 1932, pp. 267-68.

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