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West of Shanghai

West of Shanghai movie poster, starring Boris Karloff, with Beverly Roberts and Ricardo CortezWest of Shanghai (1937) starring Boris Karloff,  Gordon Oliver, Beverly Roberts, Ricardo Cortez

Buy West of Shanghai, starring Boris Karloff, from Amazon.com  West of Shanghai is an excellent movie, dealing with a cast of Western characters who travel to China for a variety of reasons, who are forced to deal with a warlord named General Fang, played by Boris Karloff. It is Karloff’s performance that makes an otherwise ordinary movie memorable.

Boris Karloff as General Wu Yen Fang, with his right-hand man Mr. Cheng to one side, and the man who accepted a bribe on the other

Boris Karloff as General Wu Yen Fang, with his right-hand man Mr. Cheng to one side, and the man who accepted a bribe on the other

In West of Shanghai,  General Wu Yen Fang is one of those movie villains what is memorable, enjoyable to watch — and makes the viewer grateful that they’re not having to deal with him. General Wang has his own warped sense of morality — it would be wrong to steal money, but not to force someone to give it to him. He’s willing to commit murder — as repayment for a double-cross. He feels that he owes his life to one of the Westerners, and treats him as his friend … until he’s forced to put him in front of a firing squad.

Synopsis of  West of Shanghai

West of Shanghai deals with Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez), a Western businessman, who travels to a remote site in China, hoping to obtain the rights to a large oil reserve owned by wildcatter Jim Hallet (Gordon Oliver), who is in danger of losing the land in foreclosure. Creed’s estranged wife, Jane (Beverly Roberts) is working as a missionary there and has fallen in love with Hallet. When a warlord named General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff) takes over the area, Gordon Creed tries to use him to cheat Hallet out of his land and escape from the warlord. Unfortunately for him, however, years ago Hallet saved the life of a young Chinese “coolie” (yes, the movie uses that term) — who later rose through the ranks to become Fang; and Fang now considers Hallet to be his friend.

Jane Creed holds a gun on General Fang (Boris Karloff)

Jane Creed holds a gun on General Fang (Boris Karloff)

West of Shanghai is very enjoyable, and well-acted by all involved. The love triangle is interesting, and Gordon Creed is truly despicable, as he’s willing to obtain the oil field, including sacrificing his own wife to Fang, cross Hallet, and try to double-cross Fang himself. Fang, for all of his cold-blooded murders, has a code of honor that he lives by — and others tend to die by it.

In addition to the wonderful job that Boris Karloff does as the delightfully despicable Fang, Richard Loo also deserves kudos as Fang’s right-hand man, the ever-reliable Mr. Cheng. In short,  West of Shanghai is a delight to watch and highly recommended.

Movie quotes from  West of Shanghai

Jane Creed (Beverly Roberts): You’ve killed thousands of people.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): Too many people in China. Kill only man… only bad man. When I kill bad man, I feel good. I have done good deed.
Jane Creed (Beverly Roberts): …and who decides whether a man is good or bad?
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): I do! I am Fang!


General Ma: Sorry to cause you this trouble. We have found the murderer.
[Suspect has been lead outside]
Myron Galt (Douglas Wood): I’m certainly glad you found him.
Lola Galt (Sheila Bromley): What are you going to do with him?
Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez): [Laconically after the sound of firing squad report] They’re gonna bury him.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): [Introducing himself to the Westerners in the room] How do you do? I am Fang. I speak no sound bad English. I think I make you understand.
Dr. Abernathy (Gordon Hart): We understand, General. We are your prisoners.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff) (Boris Karloff): No, I your guest. But please not to leave the town. It’s not nice – make Fang mad.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): [Eying up the two women prisoners] Ah, only two women! Too bad!
[Indicating Lola]
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): This one not so good.
Lola Galt (Sheila Bromley): What’s the matter with me?
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): Hair like straw; eye like fog; have wide mouth of fish.
Lola Galt (Sheila Bromley): Well, you’re no gardenia yourself!
[Fang and Cheng take offense. Cheng pulls out his pistol]


Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez): You tell General Fang that I’d like to speak to him at once. You savvy?
Mr. Cheng (Richard Loo): It isn’t necessary to speak pidgin English. I speak the language quite as fluently as you do.
Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez): You tell General Fang I’d like to see him at once.
Mr. Cheng (Richard Loo): Impossible. The General is entertaining Mrs.Creed.
[brandishes gun]
Mr. Cheng (Richard Loo): I’d advise you to move on. Please.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): This your woman I got here?
Jim Hallet (Gordon Oliver): I don’t know, but I’m interested.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): Is all right. I give her back to you. What one woman between friends?


Jane Creed (Beverly Roberts): [about his meteoric rise in rank] But how did you manage it so quickly?
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): One day the captain is killed… I become captain. The next day the major… I become major. By and by the colonel… I become colonel. I kill the general myself.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): [to Jane Creed] You are very beautiful, even in daylight.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): I had wish take taken woman. Shouvenir. You like go with me?
Lola Galt (Sheila Bromley): No, thank you.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): I make you very happy.
Lola Galt (Sheila Bromley): I’m afraid I couldn’t stand that much happiness.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): I am Fang.
Lola Galt (Sheila Bromley): I’m Lola!
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): Alright. I don’t want you anyhow. Not like woman who is tough guy.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): You come here buy interest in oil field?
Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez): I offered him fifty thousand dollars for a quarter interest.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): You got that money here?
Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez): Well, of course not. I never carry that amount with me.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): Please not to lie. Do business China oil fields always cash.  [to Galt, intending to refer to him as a ‘loan shark’] Mr. Loan Fish?
Myron Galt (Douglas Wood): You mean me, General?
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): You got my pen note… fifty thousand dollar?
Myron Galt (Douglas Wood): Right here.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): You see, you got fifty thousand dollar I want.
Myron Galt (Douglas Wood): I won’t submit to being robbed. My government…
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): [Interrupting] I not rob. You give; I take. Give!


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): [after deciding to hold the two businessmen for ransom] I am good businessman, Mr. Cheng?
Mr. Cheng (Richard Loo): You are the grandfather of wisdom, Excellency.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): I’m sorry, my friend. In one hour you die… but I not let you die alone. I come watch.
Jim Hallet (Gordon Oliver): [Sarcastically] Thanks, it’ll be a big help.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): I give you best deal ever. You leave right now, no money.
Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez): What’s the catch?
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): No catch — I kill you first.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): I’ve seen man not fight for his money. I’ve seen man not fight for his life. But I never seen man not fight for his woman.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): [after having shot Creed] Please do not do double-cross, Mr. Cheng. It very  bad.


[after Fang has rescued him from a firing squad]
Jim Hallet (Gordon Oliver): I felt worse. I don’t see how you did it.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): It was easy. I am Fang.


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): How many times I got to kill you, Mr. Creed?


General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): [to Mr. Cheng] I let you die with me … what more you want?


[as Fang is about to be executed]
Jim Hallet (Gordon Oliver): Happy journey, General.
General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff): Bottoms up! [they drink, and throw the wine glasses on the ground]