The Shanghai Gesture (1948)

the shanghai gesture 1948

Gene Tierney looks great and gives an over the top campy performance as a rich man’s daughter in Shanghai. There are numerous Americans as Chinese including Mike Mazurki as a coolie rickshaw driver. Victor Mature plays a half Arab, half Frenchman who keeps quoting Omar Khayyam.

Doctor Omar (Victor Mature) and his friend Montgomery Howe spot a girl being arrested. Omar throws on the charm while Howe pays off the cops. The girl is Dixie Pomeroy, a down on her luck chorus girl. Omar takes into Mother Gin Sling’s casino.

Mother Gin Sling (Ona Munson) may lose the place. A rich developer, Sir Guy Charteris (Walter Huston), is about to buy the land the casino sits on and then close it up. Attracting attention in the casino is Poppy (Gene Tierney). She wants excitement and Omar latches onto her. She wins big at roulette and tells Omar she knows when to stop. No she doesn’t. She even loses a necklace her father gave her. It’s not specifically portrayed but it’s easy to see she’s also a drug addict. She’s not named Poppy because she likes flowers.

Mother Gin Sling is planning revenge on Sir Guy for trying to slut her down and toss her out. Even the police commissioner says he’s helpless to stop him and makes her agree to shut down on Chinese New Year’s Eve.

Poppy continues to fall apart and confronts everyone and gets involved in shouting matches with Dixie and Omar. Sir Guy and Mother Gin Sling keep investigating each other. Mother Gin Sling is intrigued that Dixie knows him. She asks to see his picture but Dixie tossed the newspaper clipping away some time ago. He keeps ignoring her attempts to get a hold of him. He refuses her calls. She gets a coolie (Mike Mazurki) to toss a rock through Sir Guy’s window. It’s an invitation to her New Year’s Eve party in a private room at the casino.

It’s no big surprise that Poppy is Sir Guy’s daughter Victoria. Thanks to Omar he buys back the necklace and then to get her out of harms way puts her on a plane to Singapore. Now it’s time for the New Year’s gathering. The revelations come out and the staging of the sequence can be bizarre and fun to watch. Look for Maria Ouspenskaya in a non speaking part as Mother Gin Sling’s Amah. She’s best known as the Gypsy woman in “The Wolf Man.”

If you’re looking for something different and are a Gene Tierney fan, don’t miss this one.

Ona Munson as Mother Gin Sling

Ona Munson as Mother Gin Sling



About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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