"It has a ghastly familiarity, like a half-forgotten dream."
- Poppy (GENE TIERNEY)
"This whole thing reminds me of an argument I once had with the mother of my second wife."
- a gentleman in the gambling house
Description by OLDIES.com:
A melodrama of sex, corruption and greed from the great German director Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel). Gene Tierney and Walter Huston star in this passionate tale of a gambling den in the Orient and the people who collide while following their lusts in Shanghai's slimy underworld.
Set in a Chinese opium brothel, an emotional battle is waged between a western hypocrite and an eastern pleasure-queen. Gene Tierney is at her best in this film based on a racy 1925 Broadway play by John Colton; it received 32 rejections from the Hays censorship office before finally gaining approval. Academy Award Nominations: 2.
"The Shanghai Gesture" is a lavishly baroque melodrama set in an international gambling house in Asia, featuring a cast of characters with less-than-reputable pasts. Mother Gin-Sling, the doyenne of the house, controls everyone and everything in her domain. Mother is told by the authorities to close down the establishment because her former lover, Sir Guy, has just bought the real estate it sits on. Mother seeks revenge by setting up his beautiful daughter Poppy with Dr. Omar, a Eurasian of dubious background. Sir Guy fiercely disapproves of Poppy's affair and lifestyle. More murky secrets bubble to the surface before Mother and Sir Guy reach the final blow-out.
Copyright 1941 Arnold Productions, Inc. Licensed to Films Around the World, Inc. in perpetuity.
Additional credits: Keye Luke (murals) and Tom Gubbins and Aline Sholes (technical advisors).
Thirty-three scripts for the film were submitted to the Hays Office before being approved.