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The Shanghai Gesture

Sternberg's last Hollywood masterpiece, 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 (Huston) and an Eastern pleasure queen (Munson); the erotic skirmishes occur between the self-willed but helpless heroine (Tierney) and the apathetic object of her passion (Mature, amazing, 'Doctor of nothing, poet of Shanghai... and Gomorrah'); the chief arena is a casino built like a circle of hell, where nothing is left to 'chance'. Subversive cinema at its most sublime.

Release details

Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Screenwriter: Geza Herczeg, Jules Furthman, Josef von Sternberg, Karl Vollmoeller
Cast: Maria Ouspenskaya
Phyllis Brooks
Mike Mazurki
Gene Tierney
Walter Huston
Eric Blore
Victor Mature
Ona Munson
Albert Basserman
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