Our story has nothing to do with the present.
There is this card, at the very beginning of Joseph von Sternberg’s The Shanghai Gesture – a simple card, that shifts the action of this unusual pulpish noir shot in 1941 from the real world to a parallel dimension.
The card was placed there upon request by the censors – that were afraid the movie could have some bad effects on the morale of the men fighting in the Pacific.
It was 1941.
That card is one – but only one – of the many elements that make it one of the films I like to re-watch.
It’s stylish, cruel, as dark and as they come, and wildly exotic.