Shanghai Surprise (1986)

PG-13 | 97 mins | Adventure, Romance | 19 September 1986

Director:

Jim Goddard

Producer:

John Kohn

Cinematographer:

Ernie Vincze

Editor:

Ralph Sheldon

Production Designer:

Peter Mullins

Production Companies:

Handmade Films, Vista Organization
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HISTORY

The film begins with the following title card: "Shanghai 1937, the year of the Japanese Occupation."
       The 7 Nov 1985 DV announced that pop-singer Madonna, and her husband, actor Sean Penn, had signed to costar in the forthcoming picture, set to begin in Jan 1986. According to a 26 Dec 1985 LAHExam news brief, Penn had spent the previous month studying Mandarin for two hours a day to prepare for his role. He and Madonna were expected to depart for Hong Kong to begin production on 10 Jan 1986.
       A 20 Jan 1986 MGM/UA press release in AMPAS library files stated that principal photography began that day in Macau and Hong Kong. After four weeks in Hong Kong, the production would spend an additional four weeks filming exteriors in London, England, in addition to shooting at Shepperton Studios. The film’s budget was $15 million, according to a 22 Dec 1986 People news item.
       Irritated by the “hoards of photographers” on set on the second day of production, Sean Penn demanded that unit publicist Chris Nixon be fired, as reported in the 15 Feb 1986 Screen International. Nixon was swiftly replaced by Anne Tasker.
       A 25 Aug 1986 People news item reported that director Jim Goddard tried to set up a distribution deal at another film studio when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) rejected his cut. However, Goddard was unsuccessful in his attempt, and was forced to return to MGM.
       According to a news item in the 15 Sep 1986 New York, Madonna and Sean Penn distanced themselves from their association with Shanghai Surprise by insisting that their ... More Less

The film begins with the following title card: "Shanghai 1937, the year of the Japanese Occupation."
       The 7 Nov 1985 DV announced that pop-singer Madonna, and her husband, actor Sean Penn, had signed to costar in the forthcoming picture, set to begin in Jan 1986. According to a 26 Dec 1985 LAHExam news brief, Penn had spent the previous month studying Mandarin for two hours a day to prepare for his role. He and Madonna were expected to depart for Hong Kong to begin production on 10 Jan 1986.
       A 20 Jan 1986 MGM/UA press release in AMPAS library files stated that principal photography began that day in Macau and Hong Kong. After four weeks in Hong Kong, the production would spend an additional four weeks filming exteriors in London, England, in addition to shooting at Shepperton Studios. The film’s budget was $15 million, according to a 22 Dec 1986 People news item.
       Irritated by the “hoards of photographers” on set on the second day of production, Sean Penn demanded that unit publicist Chris Nixon be fired, as reported in the 15 Feb 1986 Screen International. Nixon was swiftly replaced by Anne Tasker.
       A 25 Aug 1986 People news item reported that director Jim Goddard tried to set up a distribution deal at another film studio when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) rejected his cut. However, Goddard was unsuccessful in his attempt, and was forced to return to MGM.
       According to a news item in the 15 Sep 1986 New York, Madonna and Sean Penn distanced themselves from their association with Shanghai Surprise by insisting that their photographs be removed from the cover of the tie-in paperback novel a few days before publisher Viking Press was scheduled to print 300,000 copies.
       A 23 Oct 1986 Rolling Stone article noted that the film faired poorly in its initial release in 400 theaters in mid-sized cities across the country, earning just over $1 million after three weeks. Studio executives released the picture in 400 additional theaters in major markets on 19 Sep 1986. The “unusual release pattern” was an effort to delay the expected poor reviews. A 22 Dec 1986 People stated that the picture earned $2.3 million in its domestic release.
       End credits state: “Filmed on location in Macau, Hong Kong, and London, England. Interiors at Shaw Studios, Hong Kong and at Lee International Studios, Shepperton, England.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1986
p. 3, 61.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
26 Dec 1985.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1986
p. 1, 6.
New York
15 Sep 1986.
---
New York Times
21 Sep 1986
p. 67.
People
11 Nov 1985.
---
People
25 Aug 1986.
---
People
22 Dec 1986.
---
Rolling Stone
23 Oct 1986.
---
Screen International
15 Feb 1986.
---
Variety
3 Sep 1986
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Handmade Films Presents
Produced in association with The Vista Organization Ltd.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
Prod mgr, Hong Kong prod personnel
Prod mgr, Hong Kong prod personnel
Prod mgr, Hong Kong prod personnel
1st asst dir, Hong Kong prod personnel
Asst dir, Hong Kong prod personnel
Asst dir, Hong Kong prod personnel
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Stills
Gaffer
Best boy
Generator op
Cam asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Cam asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Gaffer, Hong Kong prod personnel
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Art dept asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Const mgr
Const mgr
Prop master
Standby propman
Propman
Propman
Prop buyer
Asst set dresser
Supv carpenter
Supv carpenter
Chargehand rigger
Chargehand rigger
Supv painter
Supv plasterer
Standby carpenter
Standby rigger
Standby stagehand
Standby painter
Painter, Hong Kong prod personnel
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward mistress
Ward master
Ward asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Ward asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
MUSIC
Songs by
Mus score
Mus score
Mus ed
Eng by
Orchestral mus rec at
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd ed
Dubbing mixer
Boom op
Sd maintenance
Asst dubbing mixer
Dial ed
Foley ed
Eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main title des by
Spec eff supv
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Opticals by
Title opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Supv hairdresser
Hairdresser
Asst makeup-HK
Asst makeup-UK
Hairdressing asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Makeup asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod accountant
Scr supv
Casting dir
Casting dir
Casting dir
Unit pub
Unit mgr-HK
Loc mgr-UK
Prod coord
Prod coord
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Accounts secy
Security consultant
Prod runner
Unit driver
Loc mgr, Hong Kong prod personnel
Loc mgr, Hong Kong prod personnel
Macau liaison, Hong Kong prod personnel
Loc asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Loc asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Loc asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Loc asst, Hong Kong prod personnel
Asst accountant, Hong Kong prod personnel
Traffic capt, Hong Kong prod personnel
Prod secy, Hong Kong prod personnel
Catering by
Marine coord
Vintage cars supplied by
Transportation
STAND INS
Stunts arranger
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Processed by (London)
Processed by (Hong Kong)
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Faraday's Flowers by Tony Kenrick (Garden City, 1985).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Shanghai Surprise," music & lyrics by George Harrison, performed by George Harrison with Vicki Brown, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"Breath Away From Heaven," music & lyrics by George Harrison, performed by George Harrison, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"Someplace Else,"music & lyrics by George Harrison, performed by George Harrison, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
+
SONGS
"Shanghai Surprise," music & lyrics by George Harrison, performed by George Harrison with Vicki Brown, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"Breath Away From Heaven," music & lyrics by George Harrison, performed by George Harrison, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"Someplace Else,"music & lyrics by George Harrison, performed by George Harrison, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"Hottest Gong In Town," music & lyrics by George Harrison, arranged by John Du Prez, performed by The Zig Zaggers, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
"Zig-Zag," music by George Harrison & Jeff Lynne, arranged by John Du Prez, performed by The Gaslight Orchestra, copyright 1986 Ganga Publishing B. V., courtesy of Dark Horse Records & Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 September 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 19 September 1986
Production Date:
began 20 January 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Handmade Films (Productions) Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 March 1987
Copyright Number:
PA321923
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Camera and lenses by Panavision ®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28207
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1938 Shanghai, China, during the Japanese occupation, Salvation Army missionaries, Mr. Burns and Gloria Tatlock, enlist the aid of Glendon Wasey, a traveling salesman who speaks fluent Chinese, to help them find Wu Ch’En She, the father of a wounded soldier. Gloria Tatlock is not impressed with Glendon’s sloppy appearance, salty language, and dependence on alcohol, but he knows the local customs. However, when Glendon makes inquiries, a mob of Chinese men react with hostility. Glendon and Gloria are chased by a European gentleman named Justin Kronk, but they flee in twin rickshaws. Kronk claims that he can help find Wu Ch’En She, who is known to owe many gambling debts. For a fee, Kronk takes them to Ho Chong, a friend in the insurance business, who knows Wu Ch’En She’s whereabouts. Ho Chong accepts bribes from Glendon and Gloria, then leads them onto a fishing vessel, pushes them into a watery cargo hold filled with live fish, and disappears. As Glendon washes at the communal baths, Justin Kronk tells him that Wu Ch’En She has no sons, and the fish was a message from the Red Society. Glendon confronts Gloria, and she admits that he might not have agreed to help if he knew the truth. Gloria desperately needs morphine to administer to wounded soldiers and wants to buy back some of the opium Wu Ch’En She stole from his boss, opium king Walter Faraday. Glendon knows that Faraday was murdered by local criminals, and does not want to get involved. However, Gloria reminds him that Mr. Burns is storing Glendon’s supply of glow-in-the-dark neckties, and they walk to the mission. Mr. Burns apologizes for Glendon’s misadventures, ... +


In 1938 Shanghai, China, during the Japanese occupation, Salvation Army missionaries, Mr. Burns and Gloria Tatlock, enlist the aid of Glendon Wasey, a traveling salesman who speaks fluent Chinese, to help them find Wu Ch’En She, the father of a wounded soldier. Gloria Tatlock is not impressed with Glendon’s sloppy appearance, salty language, and dependence on alcohol, but he knows the local customs. However, when Glendon makes inquiries, a mob of Chinese men react with hostility. Glendon and Gloria are chased by a European gentleman named Justin Kronk, but they flee in twin rickshaws. Kronk claims that he can help find Wu Ch’En She, who is known to owe many gambling debts. For a fee, Kronk takes them to Ho Chong, a friend in the insurance business, who knows Wu Ch’En She’s whereabouts. Ho Chong accepts bribes from Glendon and Gloria, then leads them onto a fishing vessel, pushes them into a watery cargo hold filled with live fish, and disappears. As Glendon washes at the communal baths, Justin Kronk tells him that Wu Ch’En She has no sons, and the fish was a message from the Red Society. Glendon confronts Gloria, and she admits that he might not have agreed to help if he knew the truth. Gloria desperately needs morphine to administer to wounded soldiers and wants to buy back some of the opium Wu Ch’En She stole from his boss, opium king Walter Faraday. Glendon knows that Faraday was murdered by local criminals, and does not want to get involved. However, Gloria reminds him that Mr. Burns is storing Glendon’s supply of glow-in-the-dark neckties, and they walk to the mission. Mr. Burns apologizes for Glendon’s misadventures, hands him a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, California, and cash to buy some new clothes. Gloria invites Glendon to a duck dinner before he leaves. They barely sit down when Justin Kronk asks to join them, and Gloria introduces journalist Willie Tuttle, a known expert on the dealings of Walter Faraday. Willie recounts how he was with Faraday on the night he died, and saw five crates of premium opium. Willie offers to arrange a meeting between Glendon and Faraday’s concubine, “China Doll.” Glendon agrees to go, then changes his mind, but when Gloria threatens to rip up his ticket to Los Angeles, he is forced to reconsider. After a night of lovemaking with China Doll, Glendon returns to his hotel room, where Gloria is eager to know what he learned about Faraday. When she discovers that his encounter has yielded no information, she orders him to return to China Doll. Justin Kronk has been eavesdropping and offers Glendon valuable information for a price. Instead, Glendon leaves Gloria, but is kidnapped by gangsters dressed as police. A corrupt police officer, Mei Gan, is eager to get his hands on Faraday’s thousand pounds of opium, and tortures Glendon for information. When Glendon wakes up in his hotel room. Gloria wants him to return to China Doll, then notices the torture marks on his body and cleans his wounds. When Glendon refuses to see China Doll again, Gloria undresses, climbs into bed, and seduces him. Afterward, Gloria is wracked with guilt, cries, and releases Glendon from his obligation. However, he confesses that China Doll arranged for Wu Ch’En She to sell the stolen opium to a business tycoon named Joe Go after Wu Ch’En She saved China Doll from rival gangsters. Upon meeting with Joe Go, Gloria and Glendon learn that someone switched the crates of opium for common building bricks and a small ball of opium. Based on China Doll’s recommendation, and their mutual love of American baseball, Joe Go agrees to put Glendon and Gloria in touch with Wu Ch’En She. When they find Wu Ch’En She, he supplies them with a clue about the last Phoenix. As Gloria and Glendon ask journalist Willie Tuttle about the significance of The Phoenix, Justin Kronk interrupts and, once again, announces that he has information for a price. Glendon and Gloria are annoyed by his arrogance and leave, only to be questioned by Joe Go, who claims the clue makes no sense and leaves. Gloria and Glendon part, but back at the hotel, Willie and Kronk reveal that Mei Gan is a grave robber who plundered China Doll’s illustrious family vault. Faraday recovered China Doll’s family treasures, setting up Mei Gan’s desire for revenge. Soon, China Doll gives Gloria and Glendon precious jewels they can use to purchase opium. Although Joe Go tries to rescue them, Mei Gan and his men chase Gloria and Glendon until they are trapped at the waterfront. An officer confiscates Glendon’s money belt, and searches all the compartments looking for the jewels, but finds nothing. When he hands the belt to Mei Gan, a delayed timer sets off an explosive that kills the corrupt officer. Joe Go remarks that it is a shame the jewels were destroyed but Glendon claims that they are safe. He retrieves them from a hiding place in a rowboat tied to the dock. Before Gloria can rejoice, Joe Go steals them and runs away. Gloria and Glendon chase after him, and knock his bodyguard unconscious. Gloria kicks Joe Go in the groin and reclaims the gems. When they return to the mission with their treasure, Mr. Burns is thrilled. However, Willie and Kronk appear and demand the jewels. With a few strategic moves, Faraday, who has been disguised as Mr. Burns, parts Willie from his gun and sends the would-be thieves tumbling down stairs. Faraday explains that he was rescued from death by a fisherman’s net, recuperated for a year in Osaka, Japan, and plotted his return. He needed help to recover the jewels after China Doll refused to return them, and picked Glendon because he resembled China Doll’s former lover. Walter Faraday points a gun and demands that Glendon hand over the ticket to Los Angeles. Before he escapes, Faraday imprisons Gloria and Glendon in separate wicker trunks. Gloria and Glendon thrust themselves down the staircase, and are set free by the real Mr. Burns, who has just returned from Peking, China. They find Faraday aboard a ship, and intend to reclaim the jewels, but Faraday announces the gems are fakes, and China Doll has tricked them all. Faraday offers to share his cabin so that they can return to America. However, Gloria decides to stay in Shanghai, while Faraday boasts that he will make Glendon rich. Glendon decides that his future is with Gloria. He orders a crewman to return Faraday’s three wicker trunks to the dock. As the ship sails away, Glendon reunites with Gloria, while Faraday waves and stomps furiously on deck once he discovers his trunks are missing. On the dock, Glendon opens a wicker trunk and discovers opium hidden beneath his supply of glow-in-the-dark neckties. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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