Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


DAUGHTER OF SHANGHAI (1937). Director: Robert Florey.

When her father is murdered and she herself is nearly killed by members of a gang who smuggle in illegal aliens (and sometimes just dump them out of a plane's cargo bay when the law gets too close), Lan Ying Lin (Anna May Wong) decides to go undercover as a dancer to track down the leader. Also on the villains' trail is agent Kim Lee (Philip Ahn); the two eventually team up due to the desperate circumstances they find themselves in. This interesting, if minor, suspense film is bolstered by fine acting, not only by the leads but by a very talented supporting cast: Anthony Quinn has a small role as a nasty pilot; Charles Bickford is a member of the smugglers who runs a seedy nightclub. Larry "Buster" Crabbe is perhaps more interesting than usual as a mustachioed, sneering brunet and J. Carrol Naish is as excellent as ever as his superior, Barden. Evelyn Brent makes an impression as a neurotic gal who's jealous of Bickford's attentions to Wong, and (Ms.) Cecil Cunningham all but steals the picture as Mary Hunt, who befriends Anna and her father but has some secrets of her own. Wong and Ahn make a good team, but further pictures detailing their adventures never materialized; too bad.

Verdict: Engaging thriller with some very good sequences. **1/2.

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