SHANGHAI EXPRESS
1932, Universal, 80 min, USA, Dir: Josef Von Sternberg

“It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.” Fallen woman Marlene Dietrich just happens to run into her former boyfriend, British army captain Clive Brook, on a train hurtling through wartime China, in what many consider the high point of the Dietrich/Von Sternberg cycle. Along for the ride are some of Hollywood’s greatest supporting players of the day: lovely Anna May Wong, bullfrog-voiced Eugene Pallette and Warner Oland (doing a sinister spin on his Far East Charlie Chan persona).


MOROCCO
1930, Universal, 91 min, USA, Dir: Josef Von Sternberg

“You’d better go now, I’m beginning to like you,” purrs cabaret singer Marlene Dietrich to cocky young soldier boy Gary Cooper. If you’re going to see just one Foreign Legion movie, make it MOROCCO: Dietrich (in her first American film appearance) and Cooper are downright gorgeous, and Von Sternberg transforms the two-bit cantinas and barracks of Mogador into a splendid landscape of light & shadow.


THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN
1935, Universal, 79 min, USA, Dir: Josef Von Sternberg

Coquettish Spanish vixen Concha (Marlene Dietrich) toys with long-suffering lover "Pasqualito" (Lionel Atwill, in a surprisingly sympathetic role) while entertaining the advances of hot-blooded revolutionary Cesar Romero, in what would prove to be the last of the Dietrich/Von Sternberg films. Von Sternberg also worked as cinematographer here (with uncredited help from Lucien Ballard), and the images are among the most insanely baroque in the entire cycle.


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