Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Peking Express was the second remake of Josef vonSternberg's Shanghai Express. In the original film, a group of railroad passengers escaping war-torn China are overtaken by Chinese; in the first remake, Night Plane to Chungking, a plane is forced down in a jungle surrounded by Japanese troops. In Peking Express, the chief villains are Chinese again, but the passengers are now refugees of the Communists. Joseph Cotten (as a doctor) and Corinne Calvet (as a "woman of the world") are among the pilgrims threatened by Oriental outlaw Marvin Miller and his gang. The elements of social and religious hypocrisy in the original Shanghai Express are downplayed in the 1951 version, as is the shady past of leading lady Calvet (who inadequately fills the role originated by Marlene Dietrich). Peking Express is not the classic that the vonSternberg film had been, but on its own is a snappy little melodrama.
black-market, doctor, passenger, railroad, refugee