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Shanghai Gesture

“Sternberg's last Hollywood masterpiece, Shanghai Gesture is the true progenitor of Polanski's Chinatown, a delirious melodrama of decadence and sexual guilt that uses its Oriental motifs as a cypher for all that is unknown or unknowable. The battle is waged between a Western hypocrite (Walter Huston) and an Eastern pleasure-queen (Ona Munson): the erotic skirmishes occur between the self-willed but helpless heroine (Gene Tierney) and the apathetic object of her passion (Victor Mature, amazing, ‘Doctor of Nothing, poet of Shangahi... and Gomorrha'); the chief arena is a casino built like a circle of hell, where nothing is left to ‘chance.' Subversive cinema at its most sublime.”

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