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Author Topic: Macao (1952)  (Read 701 times)
cigar joe
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« on: November 23, 2012, 01:39:06 PM »

Director: Josef von Sternberg, Writers: Bernard C. Schoenfeld (screenplay), Stanley Rubin (screenplay), Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Gloria Grahame, Brad Dexter, Thomas Gomez, Philip Ahn, and William Bendix. I've never been a big Jane Russel fan but this is honestly her best performance and her only real serious Noir. I know, I know the Mitchum-Russell film "His Kind of Woman" of the year before but hammy-ness of Vincent Price in that film made it an unbearable watch, for me anyway. It was filmed in 1950 but not released until 1952. Producer Howard Hughes fired director von Sternberg during filming and hired Nicholas Ray to finish it.



The film has some great 2nd unit footage from the real McCoy or Macao that is nicely integrated into the RKO Backlot



Storyline
A sultry night club singer/B-girl (Russell) who has finagled passage upon a ferry from Hong Kong to Macao by promising a john "a few laughs". An ex-service man (Mitchum) who is drifting about the exotic ports of the South Seas, and a salesman (Bendix) meet shipboard. The singer is quickly hired after a Portuguese officer (Gomez) tips off an American expatriate (Dexter) who runs the biggest casino in Macao with his babe (Grahame) and has a thriving business in converting hot jewels into cash. Russell's new boss thinks one of her traveling companions is a cop. One is -- but not the one the boss suspects.


Mitchum - Bendix


Bendix - Russell

Russell look's great in this and you can see why she was equated with Marilyn Monroe at this point in time she is very statuesque but a string of average films diminishes her career.



Gloria Grahame is playing second fiddle to Russell despite having won an Oscar for In A Lonely Place in 1950, the commentary relates that Howard Huges refused to even watch the film. Grahame's Margie is jealous that Dexter is infatuated with Russell so she becomes the de facto Femme Fatale of the piece.


Dexter - Grahame


Grahame at the dice table

I was struck at first at how similar the gambling casino was to the one in The Shanghai Gesture util I checked and discovered the Josef von Sternberg link.

From Wikipedia - When the film was first released, Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, lambasted the drama, writing, "All the other ingredients, including Miss Russell's famed physique, are pretty much the same as have been tumbled into previous cheesecakes with Jane and Bob...Macao is a flimflam and no more—a flimflam designed for but one purpose and that is to mesh the two stars. The story itself is pedestrian—a routine and standardized account of a guy getting caught in the middle of a cops-and-robbers thing. And except for some well-placed direction by Josef von Sternberg in a couple of scenes, especially in a "chase" among nets and rowboats, the job is conventional in style...'A fabulous speck on the Earth's surface'—that's Macao, the place and the film."

As a Noir I'd rate it a 7/10

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dave jenkins
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2012, 01:56:45 PM »

I'm with Crowther on this one. Dullsville.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2012, 01:14:20 PM »

Quote from: T.H. on February 10, 2010, 01:30:57 PM
Macao, while not perfect, is a much better film and similar. It's a shame that the movie (His Kind Of Woman) derailed to that extent.

Quote from: dave jenkins on February 10, 2010, 02:50:44 PM
Completely disagree. Macao (both the city and the movie) completely bores me, but His Kind of Woman remains entertaining even when the plot stops working and the tone from one scene to the next ceases to cohere. Yeah, maybe they could have "fixed" the picture, but why? Would that have made the film any more enjoyable? Not for me. Mitchum is still Mitchum, Price is likeably hammy, and Raymond Burr gets to do his best turn as a villain. Given 9 seasons of Perry Mason, it's impossible, retrospectively, to view Burr in an objective way; he must remain Mason even as we view him as the heavy. I can't take any of it seriously. So a post-modern reading is inevitable. That being the case, it's just like watching a Godard film. For me, anyway.

Quote from: T.H. on February 14, 2010,
I'd say Mitchum and Russell's chemistry is reason alone. And yes, I definitely think the movie would be more enjoyable, especially considering that I didn't find anything in the last half to have any relevance, nor did I even find it entertaining. Macao, and its unoriginal ways, at least understands that Mitchum and Russell's relationship should be at the heart of the movie.

« Last Edit: November 24, 2012, 01:16:50 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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