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WHITE DEVIL OF SHANGHAI

Romantic war adventure set against the backdrop of World War II China. Two mismatched fugitives of war, a jaded American newsman and a strong-willed Jewish refugee girl, escape Japanese-occupied Shanghai to reach Free China. They evolve into unlikely heroes among the Chinese, one as a mercenary destroying lives, the other as a Red Cross miracle worker saving lives. Their stormy relationship ultimately brings them together to save Shanghai's Jewish refugees from Nazi extermination.

In 1940, Japan devised a plan to lure Jewish refugees to Shanghai as a labor force. After Pearl Harbor, the plan collapsed. They were stuck with 20,000 Jews. Hitler sent a Gestapo expert there to build a concentration camp and eradicate the Jews.

December 7, 1941. A Jewish refugee family arrives in Shanghai, AVRAM and RUTH COHN traumatized by their flight from Nazi Germany. Their young rebel daughter SARA, a Berlin medical student, is fascinated by this exotic new world. DR. ABE COHN, their China-born cousin and their only hope to reach America, takes them to his hotel. He regrets there are no visas. Shanghai is their last stop.

SEAN McCLURE, a quick-tempered Irish-American reporter, loses his job when his foreign news office is bombed. He has to find a way back home. In a cabaret club, he promises his Chinese girlfriend BUTTERFLY LI to take her to America. Dr. Cohn seeks Sean’s help to buy forged passports for Avram’s family, on the eve of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. It’s time to get out fast.

Japanese troops, under fanatical COLONEL INUZUKA, rout out all Jews from Abe’s hotel, the Cohn family cattle-trucked to the Hongkew ghetto. Searching for them at the hotel, Dr. Cohn discovers the Nazi plan for a Jewish death camp.

Trying to escape the city, Sean and Butterfly are aided by Communist revolutionary YEN YAT-SEN, until a Japanese soldier wounds Sean. Dr. Cohn smuggles them into a Jewish refugee house where Sara nurses Sean back to health. Dr. Cohn urges Avram to let Sara escape with Sean, her only chance to survive and reach America.

Meanwhile, Nazi COLONEL MEISINGER, the “Butcher of Warsaw,” arrives in Shanghai to oversee the building of an island concentration camp outside the city.

Sean, Sara, Butterfly Li and Yen embark on a perilous journey to reach Chungking. After an enemy encounter, Butterfly Li is killed and Yen joins the Red Army. Sean and Sara fend for themselves and fall in love. They never reach Chungking, but instead evolve into unlikely heroes among the Chinese: Sean as the “White Foreign Devil”, a mercenary-army leader killing and looting Japanese, Sara as the “White Miracle Worker”, a traveling nurse saving Chinese lives, each with conflicting agendas that undermine their love and constantly tear them apart.

Their stormy relationship finally brings them together to go back and save Sara’s parents and Shanghai's Jewish refugees from impending extermination. Moved and shamed by Sara’s truer heroism, Sean plots to destroy the island concentration camp, leading to a cataclysmic climax and a startling twist of events.

This romantic war adventure tells an intimate story of passion, intrigue and misguided heroism set against the epic backdrop of World War II China.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Budget:
Mid
Starring Roles For:
Hugh Jackman
Clive Owen
Michael Fassbender
In the Vein Of:
Lawrence of Arabia
Bridge Over River Kwai
Posted:
09/03/2009
Updated:
07/22/2021
Author Bio:
ANTON DIETHER is the writer of the Hallmark TV miniseries Moby Dick, the highest-rated long-form show in basic cable history, nominated for five Emmys and two Golden Globe Awards; ABC-TV miniseries Cleopatra; and Hallmark miniseries Stranded. Anton developed Beauty and the Beast for Fox, Land of Oz for Disney, Gold Fever for Phoenix Pictures, Operation Greylord for Showtime, Lost At Sea for TNT; currently Gang of Dreams TV miniseries for Little Studio Films, The Revolt for Revolt Prods, Taj Mahal for Threshold Ent.

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Contest Results:
Emerging Screenwriters Genre (Quarterfinalist) [2021]
AWS (Finalist) [2011]
Scriptapalooza Features/Shorts (Quarterfinalist) [2015]
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