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).


THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924)
1924, Warner Bros., 155 min, USA, Dir: Raoul Walsh

Raoul Walsh performs a high-wire act as director and comes out the winner in this magical melange of fantasy and fun. Working with his good friend, actor-producer Douglas Fairbanks, proved a match made in Hollywood heaven. Walsh's fine, realistic tone keeps Fairbanks in check as the actor tries again and again to go for physical hijinks and enough balletic action to take the audience's breath away. There are special effects galore, some of them straight from Walsh's imagination. Production design by the great William Cameron Menzies adds just the right zing to Fairbanks' and Walsh's vision in this tale about a clever thief named Ahmed who steals the heart of a princess and must win her love in the end. It's an Arabian Nights fantasy that Walsh infuses with gusto and bravado. The sets are sumptuous and the characters deliciously entertaining in this landmark silent film, one of the highlights of Walsh's earlier career. Also featuring the seductive Anna May Wong and a beautiful Julanne Johnston. Originally premiered at the Egyptian Theatre!


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