It's full steam ahead with Marlene Dietrich as the mesmerising Shanghai Lilly in this exotic high drama directed by Josef Von Sternberg. After being jilted by Captain Donal Harvey, Lily gains a reputation as notorious adventuress. Things heat up when the former lovers are reunited on a train en route to Shanghai. They share accommodation with a motley group of international passengers, including a dubious merchant who unsuccessfully propositions Lily. When the train is overtaken by Chinese rebels, Captain Harvey is held hostage and the merchant turns out to be the rebels' leader. Lily strikes a tantalising bargain in order to save the man she never stopped loving.