Tom Brown: What in the name of 10,000 corporals did you come to a country like this for anyways?
Amy Jolly: I understand that men are never asked why they entered the Foreign Legion. . .
Tom Brown: That’s right. They never asked me and if they had I wouldn’t have told. When I crashed the Legion, I ditched the past.
Amy Jolly: There’s a foreign legion of women, too. But we have no uniforms, no flags, and no medals when we are brave; no wound stripes when we are hurt.
Tom Brown: Look here, is there anything I can do to help you?
Amy Jolly: No. I’ve thought that before. Or, do you think you can restore my faith in men?
Tom Brown: Not me. You got the wrong man for that! Anybody who has faith in me is a sucker.
Amy Jolly: You better go now. . .I am beginning to like you.
Tom Brown: I’ve told women about everything a man can say. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told a woman before: I wish I’d met you ten years ago.
Shanghai Express is an interesting film for a handful of reasons. For one, it was the fourth of seven collaborations between its star Marlene Dietrich and its director Josef von Sternberg. Also, it was made in the Pre-Code era, so it’s deliciously racy. But then there is some inherent racism that is very hard to ignore. It’s very “orientalist,” in that it’s almost voyeuristic in its look at China, having the villain by a “mysterious Eurasian,” (played by a Swedish American actor), and having Anna May Wong play a character who becomes a murderess. Regardless of its faults, Shanghai Express is a must-see classic film, anchored by a sultry performance from Dietrich. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning one: Best Cinematography (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were: Arrowsmith, Bad Girl, The Champ, Five Star Final, One Hour with You, The Smiling Lieutenant and winner Grand Hotel.