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  • tedg22 February 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    I usually don't include a synopsis of the story in my comments. But I see that I am the first comment on this film.

    An American young woman schoolteacher in rural China is entrusted with half of an amulet by her wounded brother. This amulet has to be delivered to the US in order to allow money to be delivered, changing the direction of the war.

    A Russian spymaster is after her, in fact he shot down her brother. Once in Shanghai, she ties up with two men. She marries one as a ploy to get out of the country. Most of the male characters here are Irish-American.

    Meanwhile, the local Japanese occupier strongman is also after the amulet. So there are lots of gunfights and near escapes, including a speedboat under a trap door. All this is in the context of lots of war footage: bombings and burning buildings.

    The second gent turns out to be an agent who arranges for a happy ending by working a trick with the amulet's hiding place.

    All in all, it is rather ordinary fare.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
  • "Shadows Over Shanghai" is a very strange film, as its plot and timing is quite odd. It's set during the Japanese invasion of China and takes a somewhat neutral stance on this aggressive and morally bankrupt war.

    The film begins with a Irene Roma (Lynda Grey) waiting for her brother to fly home to the school she runs in China. However, at the last minute, another plane flies by and shoots him down--right in front of the horrified Irene! Fortunately, the brother is not dead and he entrusts a necklace to her--making her promise to get it to San Francisco. She runs from the school and drives to town on her mission--pursued by the evil Saragoza (Robert Barrat). She soon meets up with a nice-guy reporter, Johnny (James Dunn) and he and a new friend (Ralph Morgan*) help Irene escape from not just Sargoza but Japanese agents as well.

    This is a very strange film. It appears as if the writers WANTED to do a film that condemned the Japanese for their bloody attacks on China. But, they hedged their bets and never quite took a strong stand--mostly because the US was officially neutral and because, sadly, Americans generally didn't care about what was happening in Asia. Regardless, it's entertaining and worth seeing--even if the end is a bit dissatisfying.

    *Ralph was never nearly as famous as his brother, Frank (the Wizard in "The Wizard of Oz"). I never understood this, as Ralph was a really fine actor and deserves to be remembered. And, interestingly, he really does look an awful lot like Frank, though his acting seemed less bombastic and much more subtle.
  • howardeisman27 December 2010
    If you just want to relax and not be challenged by a movie, but not be bored either, this one is for you. Cheaply made and a little slow at times, it nonetheless is quite entertaining. James Dunn and Ralph Morgan are performers who hold your attention. Linda Gray is leaden as an actress, but she is gorgeous in an offbeat way. Robert Barat is good as usual. The plot is entertaining enough, although the mcguffin is not necessarily worth all the to-do.

    This was released in 1938. A scene of a city being bombed while our heros try to escape seems lifted from some other movie. It was probably pasted in to give this movie some excitement. However, it also reflected the anxiety people felt in those days about aerial bombardment. As Ralph Morgan says "This is what the next war will look like." And it did.
  • This must have been a good 'B' picture back in the day, and might have challenged the main feature as far as entertainment value is concerned. It held my interest throughout and got off the screen in a neat 65 minutes. It was produced by Grand National Pictures, a short-lived arm of Warner Bros.Studios in the 30's.

    "Shadows Over Shanghai" stars James Dunne, whose best was yet to come in "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" (1944), and who was in the midst of a career crisis due to alcohol problems. Hence, a starring role in an obscure new studio. The film is built around him, a good-natured Irish reporter with a magnetic personality. He latches on to a girl who is in over her head in top-secret espionage between China, Russia and the US. There are equal measures of suspense, humor and escapism and enough excitement to go around (but which did not impress my colleagues above).

    This picture is worth your time and is better than many films rated higher. There is good acting support from Ralph Morgan (not the Wizard - his brother) and from Robert Barrat in a villainous role. Also, WWII movie fans will recognize Richard Loo, who played Japanese bad guys in scores of war pictures. Talk about movie villains!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Pretty Lynda Gray is running around China with a mysterious amulet given to her by her brother after a serious plane crash. She finds herself in danger, being followed around by the sinister looking Robert Barrat and several Japanese officials, but protected by reporter James Dunn and the kindly Ralph Morgan, but as war grows between China and Japan, the danger increases, and so does the convoluted twists in this story.

    There's a battle sequence where Shanghai is bombed and Gray, Dunn and Morgan find themselves in the middle of the rocket's red glare, unaware that they are transporting a bomb inside a supposed wedding present. The action here is non-stop, and the special effects are impressive for a B film from Grand National. Barrat seems to be emulating Bela Lugosi in his performance. Being ahead of the invasion of Europe, this pre-World War II film has a lot of good things about it, but it's too bad that the script is meandering.
  • This is a preview of the second world war, made the year before it started. The characters even point it out, that this is what you have to expect of the coming war, and it sure is coming. The war scenes, although having nothing to do with the intrigue, are devastating in their impact. James Dunn and Ralph Morgan make a perfect complimentary pair: Dunn as hilarious as any comic, and Morgan unfathomable in his sinister objectivity: you can't guess what he really is up to and what he knows and on which side he is on. To this comes Linda Grey as the perfect innocent damsel in distress who has to be helped at any cost, which both the protagonists are more than eager to do, and at least she gets off well, leaving her dying brother behind in a troublesome fate that never gets explained. The villain is typical of the 30s: he is all evil and can't be anything else. James Dunn's humour and good spirits saves the film, which is good entertainment indeed, and the Americans should have known something of what to expect of the Japanese three years before Pearl Harbour, which they of course didn't.
  • shoneyzs24 July 2019
    Just a note the goof is not right about 'Johnny phone' is wrong he picks up middle phone and leaves from the middle phone the mistake is that the Chinese gentleman is using the right phone but standing in middle
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SHADOWS OVER SHANGHAI is a fast-moving little thriller in which various parties are trying to get their hands on a valuable amulet. The setting is China which adds some exoticism to the locations and supporting cast members. The amulet begins in a plane which is shot down by a ruthless Russian agent who then tries to retrieve it from a bunch of assorted British, Russian, and American characters who have no idea what they're getting into.

    Much of the running time sees the principal characters trying to escape on a Japanese ship whose captain may or may not have honourable intentions. One stand-out scene has them attempting to survive the bombing of a city. The cast is a mixed bunch but the performances are generally professional and there are some funny moments. Certainly the film never outstays its running time.
  • Irene, a woman living in China watches as her brother is shot down by an unknown airman. The brother survives but is too weak to continue with his mission which involves taking part of an amulet to San Fransisco to get money for the Chinese war effort against the Japanese. She is warned about the man who shot the brother, a Soviet military man who wants the money for his own. She is also told to look up a certain person in Shanghai if she gets into trouble. Once in Shanghai she runs a fowl of of the villain and escapes thanks to a wounded newspaper photographer, named McGinty, heading home to America. Linking up with her brothers friend the trio tries to get out of the city before the Japanese completely over run it and before the bad guys get them.

    Considerably duller than the description makes out (I forgot the villains name and Ralph Morgans as well and I'm not impressed enough to look it up). This is a low budget film that takes into account the then current event of the Japanese Invasion of Shanghai. Despite the use of stock news footage this is a mostly stage bound espionage yarn that substitutes talk for action. Yes its well written, but it lacks any real action until the final reel or two to keep it interesting. The lack of action becomes numbing and I did have to fight to keep awake.

    This isn't to say its a bad film, its not,its just a bit too talky for its own good. Lets face it you have to give the film points since the film kept me watching to the end because I had to see how it came out.

    Would I recommend it? Well I wouldn't go out of my way to see it but if I found it on I would let it run out its running time. There are worse films and there are better, but in a pinch, on the Late Late Late Movie it would be fine.
  • In this Grand National cheapie no one got any closer to Shanghai than Los Angeles's Chinatown. James Dunn late of the Fox Studios starred as once again an fast talking Irish American, a kind of Pat O'Brien light working in Shanghai as a news photographer. A chance meeting on the street with Linda Gray the daughter of a missionary gets him involved in all of her troubles which are considerable.

    Gray's got troubles all right. She's been entrusted with half an amulet which if presented to the owner of the other half in San Francisco will net her a small fortune that will be used to buy weapons for the Kuomintang government to fight its enemies foreign and domestic. Assisting her is a mutual friend of both Ralph Morgan who suggests that since she was born in China and has no American passport that she and Dunn marry and gain citizenship that way with the automatic exit. It doesn't prove that simple.

    For an action hero Dunn doesn't get all that much action, in fact he's reduced to a lot of wisecracks. Morgan does the heavy lifting and he's clever at outwitting Soviet agent Robert Barrat who wants the amulet for nefarious Communist purposes and Japanese top agent Paul Sutton.

    Shadow Over Shanghai made with a Gone With The Breeze budget is still reasonably entertaining relying considerably on James Dunn's charming Irish ways.