Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Movie moments: Shanghai Lily regrets ...

that she bobbed her hair.
I love that dialogue exchange between Lili and her stuffy officer ex--lover Clive Brook, when they meet again on the SHANGHAI EXPRESS in 1932 amid Von Sternberg's moody interiors, talk about light and shade! This is the one where Marlene delivers one of her most famous lines: "It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lili". She is now the "notorious white flower of China", a "coaster" plying her trade on the rail line, along with fellow prostitute, the very slinky Anna May Wong.
"I wish you could tell me there'd been no other men" says Clive reproachfully .. "I wish I could, Doc" replies Marlene, "but five years in China is a long time". She is wearing his hat by this stage as he asks her if she has any regrets, to which she laconically replies "I wish I hadn't bobbed my hair".
The delirium increases as Wong uses a knife to dispose of the bandit chieftain who is holding up the Shanghai Express. Clive proves to be unworthy of Shanghai Lili who is prepared to sacrifice herself ... but you can guess the outcome. Its one of my favourite Von Sternbergs, almost as good as THE SCARLET EMPRESS or BLOND VENUS, or THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN. Marlene is again dressed by Travis Banton in furs and feathers and veils and shot in shadows praying ...
See Dietrich/Theatre labels for when I saw her in her 1973 concert tour in London ... 

1932 is now 80 years ago - it must have been as exciting for those young then as the '60s were for my generation. That art deco, early-talkies era of Garbo and Dietrich, the early films of Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn, the Depression waif Loretta Young, GRAND HOTEL and DINNER AT EIGHT, Marie Dressler as TUGBOAT ANNIE, the heyday of the great Garbo films, Jean Harlow, Mae West, Shirley Temple, Norma Shearer, those snappy Pre-Code movies like MIDNIGHT MARY and FRISCO JENNY and MAN'S CASTLE, the Von Sternberg films; musicals like DAMES, 42ND STREET, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 and "My Forgotten Man", Astaire & Rogers taking off FLYING DOWN TO RIO, the inventive LOVE ME TONIGHT (musicals label) etc. Then as the decade went on (as the world hurtled towards war) the ascendancy of Irene Dunne, Margaret Sullavan, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tracy, Gable and Gary Cooper ... more 30s at 1930s label.

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.