West of Shanghai


1h 5m 1937
West of Shanghai

Brief Synopsis

A Chinese warlord holds three fugitives prisoner.

Film Details

Also Known As
China Bandit, Cornered, The Adventures of Chang, Warlord
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 30, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Bad Man by Porter Emerson Browne (New York, 30 Sep 1920).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

Businessmen Gordon Creed and Myron Galt and Galt's daughter Lola are all on a train bound for north China where bandit Wu Yen Fang is threatening the populace. Although the apparent purpose of Gordon's trip is a visit to his estranged wife Jane, who is working as a medical missionary, his ulterior motive is to become a partner in Jim Hallet's oil fields. Galt is also traveling to the oil fields. He loaned Jim the money to begin drilling, and as Jim defaulted on the loan, Galt intends to take over the fields. During their trip, General Chow Fu-Shan, a soldier fighting the bandits, is killed, and the three Americans are questioned by the police before they set off by mule train for the north. Jim meets them and directs them to the medical mission, as Fang is dangerously active further north. No sooner have they arrived at the mission, where it is apparent that Jane and Jim are in love, than Fang attacks. Out of gratitude to Jim for having once saved his life, Fang tries to solve Jim's problems. After putting down a rebellion fomented by Gordon, Fang kills him. A spy alerts Chinese troops to Fang's presence at the mission, and during the ensuing battle, Fang surrenders to the soldiers and is executed. Now that Gordon is dead, Jane is free to marry Jim.

Film Details

Also Known As
China Bandit, Cornered, The Adventures of Chang, Warlord
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 30, 1937
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Bad Man by Porter Emerson Browne (New York, 30 Sep 1920).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

West of Shanghai


In the 1930s, Hollywood tried to capitalize on interest in the Sino-Japanese war by setting several movies against the conflict. In the case of West of Shanghai (1937), Warner Bros. took an old play by Porter Emerson Browne called The Bad Man, changed its setting from Mexico to China, and sprinkled the script with allusions to the situation there. The play had been filmed twice before under its original title, the first in 1923 and the second in 1930 with Walter Huston as the Mexican bandit character. In the new version, Boris Karloff took on the character, now a Chinese warlord named General Fang.

The plot follows two American financiers (Ricardo Cortez and Douglas Wood) who travel to China to foreclose on another American's oilfield (he also happens to live and work with Cortez's wife). But when they arrive, they discover the area overrun with bandits and are themselves taken hostage in a local mission by Gen. Fang and his brutal gang. Fang, however, is a man of high principles, and while keeping the Americans captive, he takes a great interest in resolving a romantic triangle that has developed.

Despite the unusual setting, the character of Gen. Fang was in many ways a typical one for Karloff; he had already played an Oriental villain in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) but this time, his character was more enigmatic. On the surface he appeared ruthless and cruel, but underneath, he was good-natured and noble. And on top of this compelling portrayal, Karloff found much subtle humor in the role, often underplaying - even deadpanning - to wonderful effect. At one point, for example, he tells Gordon Oliver, "I'm sorry, my friend. In one hour you die. But I not let you die alone. I come watch." Fang often refers to himself in the third person and reveals an enormous ego, but Karloff found a way to make it almost an endearing trait.

Physically, Karloff is at first glance unrecognizable in his Oriental makeup. The actor later remembered that the makeup for Fang was harder to apply than it was for Frankenstein's monster - though it was more comfortable.

Director John Farrow, husband of actress Maureen O'Sullivan and father of Mia Farrow, directed Karloff again the following year in The Invisible Menace (1938), and went on to direct such classic film noirs as The Big Clock (1948), Where Danger Lives (1950), and His Kind of Woman (1951).

Producer: Bryan Foy, Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner
Director: John Farrow
Screenplay: Porter Emerson Browne (play), Crane Wilbur
Cinematography: L. William O'Connell
Film Editing: Frank DeWar
Art Direction: Max Parker
Music: Heinz Roemheld
Cast: Boris Karloff (General Wu Yen Fang), Beverly Roberts (Jane Creed), Ricardo Cortez (Gordon Creed), Gordon Oliver (Jim Hallet), Sheila Bromley (Lola Galt), Vladimir Sokoloff (General Chow Fu-Shan).
BW-65m.

by Jeremy Arnold
West Of Shanghai

West of Shanghai

In the 1930s, Hollywood tried to capitalize on interest in the Sino-Japanese war by setting several movies against the conflict. In the case of West of Shanghai (1937), Warner Bros. took an old play by Porter Emerson Browne called The Bad Man, changed its setting from Mexico to China, and sprinkled the script with allusions to the situation there. The play had been filmed twice before under its original title, the first in 1923 and the second in 1930 with Walter Huston as the Mexican bandit character. In the new version, Boris Karloff took on the character, now a Chinese warlord named General Fang. The plot follows two American financiers (Ricardo Cortez and Douglas Wood) who travel to China to foreclose on another American's oilfield (he also happens to live and work with Cortez's wife). But when they arrive, they discover the area overrun with bandits and are themselves taken hostage in a local mission by Gen. Fang and his brutal gang. Fang, however, is a man of high principles, and while keeping the Americans captive, he takes a great interest in resolving a romantic triangle that has developed. Despite the unusual setting, the character of Gen. Fang was in many ways a typical one for Karloff; he had already played an Oriental villain in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) but this time, his character was more enigmatic. On the surface he appeared ruthless and cruel, but underneath, he was good-natured and noble. And on top of this compelling portrayal, Karloff found much subtle humor in the role, often underplaying - even deadpanning - to wonderful effect. At one point, for example, he tells Gordon Oliver, "I'm sorry, my friend. In one hour you die. But I not let you die alone. I come watch." Fang often refers to himself in the third person and reveals an enormous ego, but Karloff found a way to make it almost an endearing trait. Physically, Karloff is at first glance unrecognizable in his Oriental makeup. The actor later remembered that the makeup for Fang was harder to apply than it was for Frankenstein's monster - though it was more comfortable. Director John Farrow, husband of actress Maureen O'Sullivan and father of Mia Farrow, directed Karloff again the following year in The Invisible Menace (1938), and went on to direct such classic film noirs as The Big Clock (1948), Where Danger Lives (1950), and His Kind of Woman (1951). Producer: Bryan Foy, Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner Director: John Farrow Screenplay: Porter Emerson Browne (play), Crane Wilbur Cinematography: L. William O'Connell Film Editing: Frank DeWar Art Direction: Max Parker Music: Heinz Roemheld Cast: Boris Karloff (General Wu Yen Fang), Beverly Roberts (Jane Creed), Ricardo Cortez (Gordon Creed), Gordon Oliver (Jim Hallet), Sheila Bromley (Lola Galt), Vladimir Sokoloff (General Chow Fu-Shan). BW-65m. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Trivia

The original play opened in New York on 30 September 1920.

Notes

The film's pre-release titles were: Warlord, China Bandit, The Adventures of Chang and Cornered. Several trade papers reviewed the picture as Warlord. Porter Emerson Browne and Charles Hanson Towne wrote a novel entitled The Bad Man (New York, 1921). Only the play is credited onscreen. The original play was set in Mexico. Other films based on the same play included The Bad Man, a 1923 First National film directed by Edwin Carewe and starring Holbrook Blinn (who also starred in the stage production), and a 1930 film of the same title directed by Clarence Badger and starring Walter Huston (see ;AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.0237 and F2.0238). In 1941, M-G-M made a version entitled The Bad Man, starring Wallace Beery and Ronald Reagan and directed by Richard Thorpe.