Shanghai Express

Synopsis: Many passengers on the Shanghai Express are more concerned that the notorious Shanghai Lil is on board than the fact that a civil war is going on that may make the trip take more than three days. The British Army doctor, Donald Harvey, knew Lil before she became a famous "coaster." A fellow passenger defines a coaster as "a woman who lives by her wits along the China coast." When Chinese guerillas stop the train, Dr. Harvey is selected as the hostage. Lil saves him, but can she make him believe that she really hasn't changed from the woman he loved five years before?
Director(s): Josef von Sternberg
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
82 min

- Has the Shanghai Express gone?

- No, madam.

I want a ticket to Shanghai, first class.

35 dollars and 25 cents, madam.

- Is there a dining car this time?

- Yes, everything but a Turkish bath.


Shanghai, first class, please.

- What you got in that basket, missus?

- A little lunch from my niece.

- No animals in there?

- I hope not!

Good morning, sir.

Porter! Come in here.

Excuse me, sir.

- Yes, sir?

- I won't share with this woman.

- Change it tonight.

- Change me now.

I haven't lived here for ten years

not to know a woman like that.

Take my luggage out of here.

- Here you are, Harvey.

- Thanks very much.

- You're in for a good time.

- Why?

Do you know who's on this train?

Shanghai Lily.

- Who's Shanghai Lily?

- Don't say you've never heard of her.

She's a notorious coaster.

What in the name of Confucius

is a coaster?

You're hopeless. It's a woman who lives

by her wits along the China coast.

News boy!

Here, wait a bit.

This magazine says August 15th 1927.

- Yes, madam.

- But it's four years old.

Latest number, madam.

Is this 1931 or am I out of my mind?

Madame, je regrette

que je ne vous comprends pas.

Je ne parle pas anglais.

Parlez-vous franais?

Parlez-vous franais?

She oughta keep it for her history

and get an education.

Here we are, boy.

You'll be as glad to be at home as I will.

We know what year it is, don't we?

Be a good boy and don't make a noise

or they'll put you in the baggage car.

There you are, my lad. All clear till you meet

number two outside Tientsin.

I'll have the law on you

if you harm a bone in his head.

He's got to have his biscuits twice a day,

and nothing but boiled water!

Don't worry, Waffles, I'll look after you.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Well, we're off on time.

Say, partner, do you ever make a bet?

My name's Sam Salt.

I bet on everything going right or wrong.

I'll bet this old rattler

don't get into Shanghai on time.

Sir, let me remind you that China

is in a state of civil war

and we will be fortunate

if we arrive in Shanghai at all.

Nice stone you have there.

There's a mate to it.

Very pretty.

- C'est chaud ici, monsieur, n'est-ce pas?

- Yes, it is a little stuffy in here, isn't it?

Sir, I am an invalid, I must not travel

in a compartment with open windows.

We'll be in here for three days.

Is there anything I can do for you?

I can take care of myself, thank you.

I think I'll get a little air, if you don't mind.

I'll close the door for you, too.

Even money we don't get away for an hour.

Can you tell me what's wrong now?

You're in China now, sir,

where time and life have no value.

I know I'm in China.


Well, Doctor,

I haven't seen you in a long time.

You haven't changed at all, Doctor.

Well, you've changed a lot, Magdalen.

Have I, Doc?

Do you mind me calling you Doc?

Or must I be... more respectful?

You never were respectful

and you always did call me Doc.

I didn't think I'd ever run into you again.

Have you thought of me much, Doc?

Let's see. Exactly how long has it been?

Five years and four weeks.

Well, for five years and four weeks

I've thought of nothing else.

You were always polite, Doc.

You haven't changed a bit.

You have, Magdalen.

You've changed a lot.

Have I lost my looks?

No, you're more beautiful than ever.

- How have I changed?

- I wish I could describe it.

Well, Doc, I've changed my name.

- Married?

- No.

It took more than one man

to change my name

to Shanghai Lily.

So you're Shanghai Lily.

The notorious white flower of China.

You heard of me.

And you always believed what you heard.

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Jules Furthman

Jules Furthman (March 5, 1888 – September 22, 1966) was a magazine and newspaper writer before working as a screenwriter. more…

All Jules Furthman scripts | Jules Furthman Scripts

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Shanghai Express" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <>.

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