6.7/10
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Macao (1952)

Passed | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 28 May 1952 (Italy)
Nick Cochran, an American in exile in Macao, has a chance to restore his name by helping capture an international crime lord. Undercover, can he mislead the bad guys and still woo the handsome singer/petty crook, Julie Benson?

Directors:

Josef von Sternberg, Nicholas Ray (uncredited)

Writers:

Bernard C. Schoenfeld (screenplay), Stanley Rubin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Nick Cochran
Jane Russell ... Julie Benson
William Bendix ... Lawrence C. Trumble
Thomas Gomez ... Police Lt. Sebastian
Gloria Grahame ... Margie
Brad Dexter ... Vincent Halloran
Edward Ashley ... Martin Stewart
Philip Ahn ... Itzumi
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Kwan Sum Tang
Don Zelaya ... Gimpy - Piano Player
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Storyline

A sultry night club singer, a man who has also traveled to many exotic ports and a salesman meet aboard ship on the 45-mile trip from Hong Kong to Macao. The singer is quickly hired by an American expatriate who runs the biggest casino in Macao and has a thriving business in converting hot jewels into cash. Her new boss thinks one of her traveling companions is a cop. One is -- but not the one the boss suspects. Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A sultry chanteuse, a hunk on the lam and a fortune in stolen gems. See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Cantonese | Japanese

Release Date:

28 May 1952 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Макао See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gloria Grahame did not want to be in this movie; Howard Hughes admitted that he never saw her previous performance opposite Humphrey Bogart in the film In a Lonely Place (1950), which is today unanimously considered among her finest performances. When Grahame asked to be loaned out to make George Stevens's A Place in the Sun (1951), Hughes turned down her request and forced her to make this movie (she reportedly dryly told her then-husband and uncredited director Nicholas Ray, who she was in the process of divorcing, that she wouldn't ask for alimony if he could get her out of this movie). Grahame later stated that she intentionally over-acted out of hatred for Hughes. See more »

Goofs

Whenever Julie Benson sings in the gambling den, The piano and bass guitar accompaniment don't match the sound of the full orchestra backing her up. See more »

Quotes

Nick Cochran: Why don't you take that chip off your shoulder?
Julie Benson: Every time I do, somebody hits me over the head with it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Robert Mitchum: The Reluctant Star (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

You Kill Me
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Leo Robin
Sung by Jane Russell
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jane Russell gets rare good role in utterly shallow but playful and stylish adventure
5 August 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Josef von Sternberg began Macao (and copped the directorial credit), but Nicholas Ray finished it. Nonetheless, it abounds with Sternberg's branded flounces and fetishes. As in Shanghai Express and The Shanghai Gesture, he trowels on the Orientalism in thick impasto (Sternberg could have made the best Charlie Chan movie of them all).

A nighttime chase through the Macao docks opens the movie (to be rhymed near its conclusion): A white-suited European is pursued by knife-throwing Chinese thugs; he falls in the water when one blade finds its mark. A badge filched from him pocket shows him to be a police detective.

Into this world of Asian intrigue sails a boat from Hong Kong, just 35 miles up the coast. On it is the motley crew of salesman William Bendix, drifter Robert Mitchum and mysterious woman Jane Russell, who lifts Mitchum's wallet. Sans passport, Mitchum comes to the attention of the Macao police chief (Thomas Gomez), who reports the suspicious stranger to gambling kingpin Brad Dexter. Dexter assumes Mitchum is a cop he knows to be on his way to extradite him back to Hong Kong....

It's a playfully plotted adventure story. Russell gets a gig singing at Dexter's club in eye-popping gowns which actually aren't any more provocative than the black-and-white daytime outfits she traipses around in, wielding a parasol. She fares better than Gloria Grahame, as Dexter's moll, looking washed out and largely wasted (though she puts her distinctive spin on a couple of lines). Mitchum by this time has done this role – the lippy but laconic reluctant hero – so often he could do it in his sleep, which, given his hooded eyes, may be the truth of the matter.

Macao is an utterly shallow film done with energy and style. The plotting remains perfunctory, but the play of shadows throughout remains transfixing – especially in the set-piece near the end, again on the dark waterfront, with ropes and nets casting their creepy spell. And the movie provides Russell with one of her few opportunities to flaunt her real, if narrow, talents: in addition to the statuesque figure that caught Howard Hughes' eye, she had spunk and sass. That's what Sternberg saw, and he fell for it. We do, too.


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