“Of them all, Shanghai Express is undoubtedly the most remarkable, a film in which von Sternberg creates an entire universe to justify the actions of his star.” (John Baxter, “Hollywood In The Thirties”) “By all odds the best picture von Sternberg has directed. Many of the scenes are so beautifully lighted they recall etchings.” (New York Times)
“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily,” drawls Dietrich as she embarks on a train journey from Peking to Shanghai. The film is dedicated to the proposition of unconditional love, with all its most fatalistic implications of capitulating to the mask while seeing only the face. Sternberg's most colorful and languorous film, Shanghai Express is laden with atmosphere thick enough to cut with a knife. Lee Garmes' camera is at its lushest, and Anna May Wong is at her sultriest.