REVIEW: Shanghai Express [1932]

You’re in China now. Where time and life have no value. The three-day train ride from Peking to Shanghai has commenced and all anyone’s talking about is the rumor that the infamous Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich) is on-board. Most of the passengers, like respectable boarding house owner Mrs. Haggerty (Louise Closser Hale) and Christian missionary Mr. Carmichael (Lawrence Grant), are scandalized by the prospect, but others, like the genial Mr. Chang (Warner Oland), are curious about their prospects where it comes to getting to know her better (wink). Captain Donald…

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REVIEW: Dishonored [1931]

To love and excitement. Marie Kolverer (Marlene Dietrich) never asked to be a spy. The widow was merely mentioning to a police officer standing guard at the latest death-by-gas-asphyxiation suicide that she wouldn’t be following in the victim’s footsteps like he remarks most women will. She tells him that she’s not afraid of life before clarifying that she’s not afraid of death either. The sentiments catch the ears of the Austrian Secret Service Chief (Gustav von Seyffertitz) as those of someone with a strong enough constitution to recruit for an…

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REVIEW: Der blaue Engel [The Blue Angel] [1930]

“Beware of blondes. They’re special, every one.” It was interesting to discover Josef von Sternberg‘s career started in Hollywood, directing many late-silent era pictures. I assumed the Austrian-born auteur began in Europe because he was the man behind the camera for Germany’s first feature-length talkie, Der blaue Engel [The Blue Angel]. But his helming it was actually at the behest of German star Emil Jannings who—despite reportedly clashing on set of their previous film together, The Last Command, where he won the Oscar for Best Actor—wanted Sternberg to guide him…

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