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 attractive singer/petty crook, Julie Benson?
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
These RKO noirs sometimes don't make a lot of sense; "Macao" gets a little murky plot-wise, but otherwise, it's an entertaining film with an excellent cast. And as an added bonus, it has Josef von Sternberg at the helm until he was kicked off the movie, and then it has Nicholas Ray. Not bad.
Robert Mitchum, sexy and wide-shouldered in one of those loose-fitting tropical suits, plays Nick Cochran, going to Macao to start over after leaving the U.S. and spending time in the service. He originally thought he committed murder, but even though he hadn't, he kept going. On the boat en route to Macao, he meets beautiful, sexy, non-nonsense Julie Benson (Jane Russell) and a salesman (William Bendix).
When they arrive, Mitchum is taken for a police detective out to get a criminal/casino owner Halloran (Brad Dexter) back to the states. The chief of police (Thomas Gomez) is in cahoots with Halloran. Plus, Halloran becomes interested in Julie, so he really wants to get rid of Cochran. Criminals in Macao avoid the "three mile limit" - because three miles outside of Macao, international jurisdiction rules.
Apparently Mitchum did some rewrites on this script because it didn't make much sense. The cast and crew, all of whom had worked together many times, were a little too friendly for von Sternberg, which caused Mitchum to push all of his buttons. I'm not sure if Ray dragged Gloria Grahame with him or what, but she's wasted here, and she had no interest in this role. Can't blame her.
Despite all of this, Mitchum and Russell are great together, a wonderful, sexy combination. Both stars just ooze sex appeal, and Mitchum's laid-back performance is a great juxtaposition to Russell's character - it's pointed out that she has a big chip on her shoulder. Russell looks fabulous in the costumes, an added bonus.
Pretty music, excellent noir photography, and a good pace help make "Macao" good entertainment. For me it can't touch "Out of the Past" or "The Big Steal," but you can't beat Mitchum and Russell heating up the screen.
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