User Reviews (42)

  • bmacv5 August 2002
    Jane Russell gets rare good role in utterly shallow but playful and stylish adventure
    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.
  • Spondonman27 June 2004
    Half a wow for Macao
    It's a routine but atmospheric potboiler, and worth a watch if not seen before. I've seen it a dozen times, but I'm a sucker for this kind of hard boiled dark nonsense. "Shanghai Express" was much better in all departments from Sternberg in the Golden Age, darker gloomier and more menacing, and is the yardstick I judge his other work from. Co-directed by Nicholas Ray (or was it finished?) "Macao" stands out for me from the real routine Hollywood films of the period, the ones that were meant to make a lot of money and did.

    Brad Dexter's finest film role as the whispering crook, Mitchum sparkles (or rather, snoozes his way through) in his best comedic vein, Russell and Grahame are perfectly decorative, however it's a pity Bendix couldn't have stuck around to the end. Mitchum boarded Macao without a passport and was the only one not searched at Customs - and the slender thread the whole story hangs by is also perpetrated by Thomas Gomez there too.

    If you, like me liked "The big steal" or "His kind of woman" you're sure to like this.
  • st-shot9 August 2007
    Mitchum and Russell salvage drab Von Sternberg
    Bob Mitchum and Jane Russell make for a rugged romantic duo in this crime film set in the Far East, directed by Josef Von Sternberg. In this rather light, watered down noir Russell, as a streetwise nightclub singer matches Mitchum with world weary put down after put down.

    Director Von Sternberg, whose visual style of the 30's was the envy of Hollywood but had fallen on tough times and was nearing the end of his career, occasionally captures the magic that displayed Marlene Dietrich with such allure and mystery in films like Shanghai Express and Morrocco. The problem is that Dietrich and Russell are different animals. Russell has never looked more glamorous but she doesn't move like Dietrich and her singing scenes make her look a bit like Gilda on steroids. Still, there is a chemistry between her and Mitchum that keeps the film entertaining. The supporting cast offers a comically hammy turn by William Bendix and a somewhat strange, semi-comatose performance by Gloria Grahame.

    Von Sternberg borrows heavily from his last good film, The Shanghai Gesture in many scenes, but Macao's main strength rests squarely on the broad shoulders of its two stars.
  • RIO-1519 May 1999
    Mitchum in trouble in the seedy port of Macao.
    A penniless adventurer (Mitchum) is mistaken for a police detective by the underworld boss (Dexter) of Macao. Meanwhile the real detective (Bendix) uses Mitchum as a decoy to lure Dexter out of the safety of the colony. Sexy Jane Russell is also on hand to give Mitchum more than his share of thrills.

    A bit of entertaining nonsense. A film which nevertheless is forgotten a few minutes after the end titles. Mitchum,Russell and Bendix all play with the right easygoing charm. Not a great movie but fun anyway.
  • seymourblack-17 August 2015
    Humour, Intrigue & Treachery
    Warning: Spoilers
    In the chaos that followed the end of World War 11, places that fell outside the jurisdiction of international law became havens for all sorts of mysterious travellers such as, fugitives from justice, displaced persons and of course, the types of criminals who could best exploit these locations for their own purposes. The Portuguese colony of Macao, which lay to the south of Hong Kong, was one of these places and provides the setting for this movie in which adventure, romance and mistaken identities feature strongly.

    After recently having been involved in the murder of an undercover cop from New York City, local crime boss Vincent Halloran (Brad Dexter) expects another undercover officer to arrive in Macao to carry on where his predecessor left off. When a steamer from Hong Kong arrives at the port, corrupt police Lieutenant Sebastian (Thomas Gomez), who's on Halloran's payroll, watches with interest while three Americans have their entry documents checked. The three people in question are, Nick Cochran (Robert Mitchum), an ex-serviceman with no passport, out-of-work nightclub singer Julie Benson (Jane Russell) and travelling salesman, Lawrence C Trumble (William Bendix). Sebastian allows Nick Cochran to enter Macao despite not having a passport and reports back to Halloran about the new arrivals and his belief that Nick is the undercover detective that they've been expecting.

    Nick and Julie had struck up a certain rapport after having met on the steamer and so Halloran hires Julie as a singer for his casino with the intention of using her to find out more about Nick. Halloran also offers Nick money to leave Macao but he's more interested in staying to develop his relationship with Julie. The jovial Lawrence Trumble deals in a diverse range of items including nylon stockings, fertiliser and coconut oil and one day offers Nick $10,000 to sell a stolen diamond necklace to Halloran. After Halloran sees a diamond taken from the necklace, he agrees to travel to Hong Kong to complete the deal even though doing so would mean travelling through international waters where he would run the risk of being arrested.

    Halloran, who recognises that the necklace is one that he'd previously stolen, has Nick kidnapped. Nick then escapes with the assistance of Halloran's girlfriend Margie (Gloria Grahame) who's very bitter about Halloran's obvious attraction to Julie and a series of further complications then follow before Halloran's decision to travel to Hong Kong leads to the story's exciting conclusion.

    Many of the characters in "Macao" are disloyal and very readily betray any trust placed in them. Some examples involve Halloran who's disloyal to his mistress (Margie) who reciprocates by transferring her loyalty to Nick. Lieutenant Sebastian has no integrity at all and his loyalty is always ready to be transferred to the highest bidder. Similarly, Julie, who was broke when she left Hong Kong, used her looks to sucker a sleazy stranger into sponsoring her trip to Macao, but then when the arrangement started to become uncomfortable dumped him with the help of Nick, who she rewarded by stealing his money and throwing his passport and wallet into the sea!!

    Treachery on this scale is probably no surprise in a location that's a magnet for people who want to escape their pasts or enjoy unregulated gambling but what's more unexpected is the rather playful tone of the whole movie where banter, wisecracks and witticisms are the norm. Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell both excel in their roles but are unquestionably at their most effective and charismatic in their scenes together. Brad Dexter, Gloria Grahame and William Bendix also do well in their important supporting roles.
  • Nazi_Fighter_David15 June 2001
    A routine melodrama with a few flashy decorative touches..
    Warning: Spoilers
    'Macao' emerges on screen as a routine exercise in melodrama with a few flashy decorative touches from Von Sternberg's hand...

    Certainly the ambiance created did not at all suggest that Macao is an exotic, sinful, self-governing overseas territory of Portugal, on the South China Coast...

    The plot opens with the arrival of a ship in the port of Macao, and aboard are a former American lieutenant in the Signal Corps, who has just lost his passport (Mitchum); a tall tawny brunette (Russell); and a happy salesman (William Bendix)...

    Just before the boat docks, Mitchum, with a confused romantic involvement, uses up his sexual magnetism, in asking Jane about her past... Jane, a woman who had seen a lot and was not about to be surprised by much, replies: 'I don't warm up to questions when I don't know the answers myself.'

    Eventually, she reveals that she had formerly been a cigarette girl and photographer at a Miami Beach Club, then was a fortune-teller, and now is coasting along as a singer...

    Once again Jane's character is introspective but honest and open: 'I was never considered a brain. I'm a creature of moods.' Her philosophy was expressed by these words: 'Everybody's lonely worried, and sorry. Everybody's looking for something. I don't know whether it's a person or a place. But I'll keep on looking.'

    If Mitchum was impressed by her personality, his unemotional expression gives no indication of such an interest... His sleep-hooded eyes still challenge women to rouse him and make him their own...

    Upon arriving Jane is rapidly hired by gangster Brad Dexter to sing at his Club Quick Reward, much to the discomfort of his girlfriend and gaming table croupier, Gloria Grahame...

    Jane, physically glorious, is soon at work, singing to the gambling crowd a version of 'You Kill Me.' Meantime Dexter and his corrupt police intimate friend, lieutenant Thomas Gomez, have been alerted that one of the three new visitors is an undercover police officer sent to bring Dexter back to justice by cheating him into coming outside the three-mile limit of Macao (which has no extradition treaties).

    The criminal couple assume that Mitchum is the law-enforcer when in reality it is another big fellow...

    Jane's highlight covers her performance of the song 'One for the Road'... To impress everybody, Jane was wearing a terrific dress...
  • Claudio Carvalho4 December 2014
    Entertaining Adventure
    Macao is a paradise to outlaws since there is no extradition from this country. The former soldier Nick Cochran (Robert Mitchum) that had a problem with the New York police; the cynical and experienced singer Julie Benson (Jane Russell) and the salesman Lawrence C. Trumble (William Bendix) travel by ship and arrive at the port of Macao. Julie pickpockets Nick 's wallet and he loses his money and documents.

    On the arrival, the corrupt Police Lieutenant Sebastian (Thomas Gomez) has the information that an undercover detective from New York is on board of the vessel and he believes that he is Nick Cochran. He discloses the information to the crime lord Vincent Halloran (Brad Dexter) that owns a casino and Halloran believes that Nick has the intention of taking him into international waters so that he can be arrested. Halloran hires Julie and tries to bribe Nick to leave Macao, but Nick and Julie feel attracted to each other and Nick has no intention to travel to Hong-Kong. When Trumble offers a deal to Nick with a diamond necklace, Nick shows a diamond from the necklace to Halloran and he concludes that Nick is really an undercover cop and sends his henchman to capture him. Who might be Trumble?

    "Macao" is an entertaining adventure with a non-original story. The screenplay is weak, with a rushed conclusion, and the characters are poorly developed. The greatest attractions are the always great Robert Mitchum and the sultry Jane Russell that makes it worthwhile watching. My vote is six.

    Title (Brazil): "Macao"
  • James Hitchcock1 March 2005
    A Lighter Shade of Noir
    Nick Cochran, supposedly an American adventurer and petty criminal, arrives, short of cash and on the run from the United States where he is wanted, in Macao (at this period still a Portuguese colony). Arriving on the same boat is an attractive young woman named Julie Benson. Julie is hired by Vincent Halloran, the local gambling boss, as a singer in his casino-cum-nightclub. Halloran is also wanted in America (for offences far more serious than Cochran's), but cannot be extradited as long as he remains in Macao. Although this is a short film, there is still time enough for the plot to become very complex. A number of the characters are not what they seem. Is Cochran, for example, what he purports to be, or is he really a cop trying to lure Halloran beyond Macao's three mile limit into international waters where he can be arrested? Who is Lawrence Trumble, the mysterious salesman who also appears to have a sideline in stolen jewellery?

    This is the second film which Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell made together; the previous year they had starred in "His Kind of Woman". The two films have much in common beyond the two leading actors. Both have an exotic setting and both feature gambling and a ruthless gangster. The two leads play similar types in both films, Mitchum a seedy, down-on-his-luck character, likable despite his shady past and occasionally cynical exterior, and Russell a sultry glamour girl. There is, however, an important difference between the two films. "His Kind of Woman" can be seen as a comic send-up of the crime thriller genre, starting off in the dark, menacing film noir style and then metamorphosing into a comedy action-thriller. "Macao" is the genuine article rather than a parody, being for the most part played seriously rather than for laughs, although it the atmosphere is perhaps lighter than in some other films noirs. The difference lies less in the look of the film- "Macao" has some striking black-and-white photography- than in the moral atmosphere. Films such as the Humphrey Bogart classics "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Big Sleep" were notable not only for their dark, gloomy look but also for their tone of moral darkness. The private eye characters played by Bogart struggle to maintain their private integrity in a world of corruption and deceit. In "Macao" there is something closer to a traditional morality, with good triumphing over the evil of the ruthless villains. The result is perhaps something of a hybrid between authentic noir and a more traditional adventure thriller, still highly watchable even today. 6/10
  • mikaj-13 July 2004
    7/10 kill me!
    Heh! Masterpiece it ain't, but it's got Mitch and Jane and in my book that's a plenty. Josef Von Sternberg was no stranger creating mysterious dreamscapes of his own making, Shanghai Express and Morocco comes to mind first and in this movie it also shows very much. Fishing nets, artfully bobbing sampans, black cats, exotic bit parts and beautiful Chinese "high-low" gamblers in slit skirts. Ahh... mysterious east it is. Unfortunately sum is not as high as parts would suggest and so this particular film leaves you wanting. Mitchum is in his usual mysterious tough guy mode and like a man said nobody does it better, Russell is little bland in the movie but very pleasing to the eye. Bendix is in fine form and it's a shame he doesn't have more screen time and Grahame is completely written down. Shameful thing it is when gals best scene is when she is blowing to the dice. Macao is not a bad movie in any way, but with better script it could have been so much more. If you want to check worthier Mitch & Jane collaboration take a look at His Kind of Woman, that film really rocks! Missed opportunity!
  • manuel-pestalozzi23 June 2003
    A world full of nets - and "what would Howard say?"
    Warning: Spoilers
    The story of Macao seems derived from the famous French film Pépé le Moko (remade in the US with the title Algiers): A criminal is trapped in an intricate exotic town where he can't be arrested and has to be lured out. But it is not the criminal who is at the center of this story - there actually is no center, and there is no real story either. Nonetheless, this movie is worth watching as an enchanting, thought stimulating visual experience.


    Two famous directors, Josef von Sternberg and Nicholas Ray, worked on Macao, and their talents were not wasted. The set design and the cinematography are wonderful. (The actor's personalities are badly developed, they rather belong to the general scenery). There are many nice little scenes: Robert Mitchum grasping a falling stocking, Gloria Grahame throwing dice with diamond studded gloves, William Bendix getting a shave, Jane Russell throwing scissors at Mitchum and getting at him with a rotating ventilator (the man protecting himself with a cushion). All this happens in a nocturnal world hung with fishing nets, with gently bobbing sampans on dark waters - a spider's web, a big trap in which you never have firm ground under your feet. Jane Russell's character calls herself a "creature of moods". She is a kind of an archetype of many Pam Grier-style characters. (She doesn't actually dish out blows but you feel she is longing to). She impersonates a character I guess many a man would rather have her for a big sister than for a lover. In this aspect this movie is sort of ahead of its time.

    I have the impression that many movies of the late forties and early fifties are full of innuendos. How else one can explain why the casino kingpin and apparently the master of Macao who controls the lives of all the main characters is called Howard? Like the owner of the production company of Macao, notorious Howard Hughes, he controls every move of his employees and seems to be collecting beautiful women. At one moment Russell and Mitchum get into a rickshaw. He is giving her a ride home from the club where she is engaged as a singer. With his usual cool manner he asks her: "What would Howard say?" (if he knew I took you home). It must have been fun to poke a little fun at their boss and, possibly, reenacting a piece of reality.
  • Builders23 July 2005
    Spicy, Short and Sweet Noir
    Macao is entertaining and moves quickly (but ends too soon). Mitchum plays his typical laid-back, fearless, charming, unmotivated protagonist. The treat of this movie is seeing Jane Russell sling her one-liners, sing two low octave blues numbers, and saunter around the set. I think she and Mitchum hit it off just fine. The sets and camera work are first rate, but the plot could have used some more development. Since I have to add four more lines for submittal, let me add that the Chinese band was novel (I'm not sure if they were really playing, but it looked like it, and they were having a good time). Also, the blind man sure got around, and I'm glad he didn't turn out to be faking blindness.
  • moonspinner5527 April 2009
    "You remind me of a girl nicknamed The Sphynx." ... "Are you partial to girls made out of stone?"
    Cheeky, compact crime-drama in an exotic locale off the southern coast of China. Former Army Lieutenant Robert Mitchum, on the run from the law, winds up in the gambling and jewel-smuggling town of Macao without his wallet--seems pack-up-and-go lounge singer Jane Russell has fleeced him on the boat coming over from Hong Kong! Luckily, Mitchum becomes friendly with 'salesman' William Bendix, who is actually working to bring in the crime boss responsible for the death of an international police officer. Very tight and entertaining piece doesn't waste any time getting started. Some of the sloppy editing in the early stages fails to shape the scenes, but director Josef von Sternberg makes up for this with quick pacing and colorful asides. As for Russell, she's a stitch either working some very sarcastic dialogue or warbling seductive tunes down at the local gambling house. Gloria Grahame, as the boss's girl, wants Jane outta town fast--and it's easy to see why! *** from ****
  • bensonmum22 May 2007
    "You know, you remind me of an old Egyptian girlfriend of mine. The Sphinx."
    Warning: Spoilers
    Three American's leave Hong Kong headed for Macao. While the three don't know each other, their lives are soon to be intertwined. Macao is essentially run by a gambler and crook named Vincent Halloran (Brad Dexter). He's always on the look out for American cops looking to put the clamp on his operation and take him back to the U.S. to stand trial. Halloran is convinced that one of the new arrivals, Nick Cochran (Robert Mitchum), is his man and wants to get him off the island before Cochran can get the drop on him. Complicating matters is Julie Benson (Jane Russell), who both Cochran and Halloran have a thing for, and Lawrence C. Trumble (William Bendix), a man who seems just a bit too interested in what's going on in Macao.

    It's not that Macao is a bad movie, but you can certainly find better. Macao does nothing outstanding or overly memorable that allows it to rise much above the average mark. Take the film's two leads, Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell. I thought the pair was pretty good in His Kind of Woman. But here they're basically playing the same roles. It's the same relationship and dialogue all over again. How about something to spice things up a bit? The rest of the movie is similarly uneventful. Brad Dexter's tough guy Halloran isn't that tough. Thomas Gomez's Lt. Sebastian isn't as slimy and underhanded as he might have been. And William Bendix's character is far too easy to see through and figure out his motivations. Like I said, it's not that Macao is bad, it's just not as good as it could or should have been. If you enjoy watching Robert Mitchum play the same role he played dozens of times and if you enjoy watching Jane Russell sing and wear fabulous clothes, Macao might be the movie for you. If you want real excitement, suspense, and drama and the chance to see Mitchum and Russell do something that will "wow" you, you'll be disappointed.
  • bkoganbing25 September 2006
    Murky Melodramatic Macao
    When the haphazardly put together His Kind of Women turned into a big hit for RKO, Howard Hughes decided to team Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell again. This time instead of a resort in Baja California, the location was to be the orient, in the Portugese colony of Macao.

    Like in His Kind of Woman, Howard Hughes couldn't keep his hand off the day to day production and even more so after the film was finished in the editing. As it was the film runs barely over 80 minutes and if Lee Server's biography of Mitchum is to be believed it was supposed to be a whole lot longer.

    Macao within the last decade reverted from being a Portugese enclave back to China. I'm not sure what it's like now, but back in the day it was a legendarily corrupt place as typified by the corrupt police inspector Thomas Gomez.

    Gomez is doing custom duty and he reports to gambling kingpin Brad Dexter of the arrival of Robert Mitchum without money or passport. That to him means he's the law. Dexter's real interested in the law, especially the United States law. Though it's never specified exactly what he did, the cops in New York want him real bad and have tried to get him outside Macao which has no extradition treaty.

    The film when you think about is starting to bear some resemblance to Algiers. But Dexter ain't half as charming as Charles Boyer as Pepe LeMoko.

    Mitchum's without money or identification because light fingered Jane's lifted them from him. That's a grand way to begin a romance, but this is Hollywood.

    Mitchum and Russell both give out a lot of heat here and Russell has some competition in Gloria Grahame. One of the criticisms of Macao is that Grahame ain't on the screen often enough. She's Dexter's girl and she don't like Jane and those weapons of mass destruction she's sporting.

    William Bendix is here as a traveling salesman with a line of nylons and snappy patter. He's not around often enough in Macao and he's welcome in any film.

    Lots of atmosphere and melodrama permeate Macao. Best scene in Macao is Mitchum eluding Dexter's knife wielding henchmen, Philip Ahn and Vladimir Sokoloff. They chase him through the dock area in and out of shadows in the best noir tradition.

    The original director Josef Von Sternberg got canned by Hughes and Gloria Grahame's then husband Nicholas Ray finished the film. Macao's not bad, not half as good as His Kind of Woman.

    Maybe if Howard Hughes had resisted interference. Just like playing for George Steinbrenner.
  • Prof-Hieronymos-Grost10 July 2006
    Film Noir Lite
    Vincent Halloran (Brad Dexter) is an American ex pat Casino owner in Macao with a sideline for fencing hot jewellery. The American authorities are after him but he must travel beyond the three mile limit, into international waters before he can be apprehended, so when three Americans arrive off a ship,Nick Cochran(Robert Mitchum) , Julie Benson(Jane Russell) and Lawrence C. Trumble(William Bendix), Halloran's stooge policeman Lt. Sebastian (Thomas Gomez) informs him that one might just be a police man after him. Halloran employs Julie as a singer and makes Cochran an offer he cant refuse, a bag load of money to leave Macao,Cochrans first mistake is to refuse the money his second is to unwittingly offer Halloran jewellery stolen from him. As you might expect from another troubled RKO production this doesn't always make sense but the dialogue is great as is the rapport between the leads and the film if not taken too seriously is a lot of fun, shame about the bare bones DVD
  • blanche-226 November 2009
    Mitchum and Russell doing what they do best
    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.
  • grandpagbm3 November 2008
    Well-Done Black-and-White
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a good film. The dialog sounds like crime movies of the 1940's, but the script is very good. The performances by Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, and William Bendix are excellent. Russell sings a couple of songs, very well, and is drop-dead gorgeous, in the role of a torch singer. Gloria Grahame has a supporting femme fatale role, similar to many she played in the 1940's and 1950's, and she always did a good job. The movie opens with a documentary-like description of Macao, assuming audiences would not know much, if anything, about the island and its location (which probably was true). It's a good adventure/crime story, done in black-and-white, which works well, since most of the action takes place at night. I will enjoy watching this film often.
  • jotix10022 June 2006
    On a slow boat to Macao
    Warning: Spoilers
    It appears that "Macao" suffered from the case of too many cooks spoiling the dish. The film, supposedly directed by Joseph Von Sternberg, shows an uncredited Nicholas Ray as also having worked in it. The screen play is credited to Edward Chodorow, but there are other six men that contributed to the story.

    This film could have been much better, given the great cast RKO put together. Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell had teamed with better results before, so it's a surprise they didn't deliver in this one. The story is typical of those years without making much sense. First of all, for reality's sake, what country would have allowed Nick Cochran to enter its territory without a valid passport. He would have been sent back to wherever he came from! Of course, then, there would have been no picture. This movie asks a lot from its viewers.

    The best thing in the film is Brad Dexter, who as Vincent Halloran, gives an excellent performance. William Bendix, plays a traveling salesman that surprises us at the end. Gloria Grahame, a welcome addition in any film of this genre, doesn't have much to do.

    Although not a horrible film, by any means, we can only think that perhaps with another team of creators, this movie would have been more satisfactory than what we see on the screen.
  • ccthemovieman-125 January 2008
    Was Jane Russell Ever In A Good Movie?
    I'm still waiting to discover a good movie in which Jane Russell starred. I haven't seen one yet. If you know of one, let me know. Best as I can tell, Howard Hughes tried to make her a star for two reasons: her breasts. It couldn't have been for her acting ability or that her presence would enhance a quality film. Those just didn't happen. Her films were a bust (pun intended.)

    You would think it would be almost impossible to shoot a boring film that also included Robert Mitchum, William Bendix, Thomas Gomez and Gloria Grahame....but here it is! The screen time of Bendix and Grahame are woefully small, otherwise this might have been more interesting. The other (lead) characters in this movie are simply not people you care about.

    The fault of this movie, in addition to unlikeable lead characters, is that it simply isn't entertaining. It's dull, folks, almost as drab as it gets. What a shame. It sure didn't have to be with that cast. Mitchum and Bendix were fun to watch in "The Big Steal," but the only steal in this film is your money to buy or rent this movie.

    I love film noir, and I liked the exotic setting in here, but this story is so bad I hate to even classify it in that genre (noir). Director Josef Von Sternberg was at the end of his career....and it shows. In fact, he didn't finish this movie. They had to call in Nicholas Ray to do that. This film, in a way, was a poor man's "Morocco," I say "poor man" because Jane Russell was no Marlene Dietrich and "Macao" is no "Morocco."

    The only saving grace is that the running time is short. You only have to suffer for 81 minutes. I wouldn't even recommend that.
  • verbusen28 December 2009
    Like An Monogram Release To Me
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is one confusing dull piece of Noir. It's a shame too because it's got Mitchum, Russell, and Bendix, all 3 have had much better moments in a Noir atmosphere. The best part about this? It's short. There is no action, very little gun play, a couple of knife's thrown in the back scenes that instantly kill but barely get stuck in, no blood, no Chinese torture, nothing! I've come to the conclusion that most American classic movies (before 1960) made in the "Orient" suck. The only ones that come to my mind as good are "Mask Of Fu Manchu", "Soldier Of Fortune", "Lost Horizon", and "The Good Earth". I'm sure there are others but mainly if it says it's an Oriental location it's there because the stories very weak and they need an exotic location to take your mind off of the story. I barely remember a scene with Mitchum and Russel getting it on so the steamy angle is a bust, and the story itself is ludicrous. Watch it because your curious as it has Russell and Mitchum, but you will not be impressed at all, bottom line. 5 of 10 and that's being very generous. I will say though in it's defense, that I will use the line on my wife someday that "Diamonds cheapen you".
  • Infofreak2 September 2003
    Mitchum and Bendix are great to watch, but this mediocre thriller isn't.
    I think Robert Mitchum was one of the coolest stars Hollywood has ever produced and I'd watch him in just about anything, which is lucky, because if it wasn't for him, 'Macao' wouldn't be worth sitting through. No, it's not THAT bad, just mediocre. Mitchum is great to watch, as is William Bendix (star of one of Alfred Hitchcock's most underrated movies, 'Lifeboat') but the movie itself is dullsville, daddy-o. Mitchum and Bendix had previously appeared together in 'The Big Steal', a thriller regarded by many as a bit slight. It is, but unlike 'Macao', it's entertaining. Another problem with this movie is Jane Russell. I find her to be neither sexy or interesting and can't see for the life of me what all the fuss about her was. As her character is the main focus of the movie, that creates a big problem. I didn't think there was any chemistry between her and Mitchum at all. It would have been much better to me if Gloria Grahame who plays Margie (and who co-starred with Mitchum and Robert Ryan in the excellent 'Crossfire') played the Russell role and vice versa. Oh well, I have to accept the movie for what it is and not what it MIGHT have been, and what it IS is lame. Give this one a miss unless you're completely nuts about Mitchum.
  • ackstasis17 October 2008
    "My fatal charm. Never misses - except with women"
    Warning: Spoilers
    It seems odd for a film noir to be set on a small peninsula off the coast of China, but 'Macao (1952)' nonetheless fits the bill, in a similar vein to Howard Hawks' 'To Have and Have Not (1944).' Robert Mitchum wanders in off a ferry, looking as weary as always, and is immediately suspected by the city's resident American crime boss (Brad Dexter) to be a dangerous detective from the States. Cochran, actually a vagrant fugitive traversing the globe, accepts these accusations without batting an eyelid, thus joining the ranks of film noir "innocents" who find themselves unwittingly entangled in a messy affair in which they have no rightful business. Meanwhile, Jane Russell, with a spiteful glare that suggests utter contempt for anything that moves, works hard to avoid falling for Cochran; but on whom the sultry singer will ultimately bestow her affection is never in doubt. This film was made purely to bring together its two big stars again, but fortunately it also works as a exotic adventure thriller.

    According to the opening credits, 'Macao' was directed by Josef von Sternberg. In actuality, producer Howard Hughes dismissed Sternberg before production wrapped up, and so the film was completed by an uncredited Nicholas Ray. Audiences have always loved to see their favourite stars dispatched to exotic locations – however short distance they were required to travel from the studio back-lot – and the obscure Asian peninsula of Macao adds a spark of Oriental charm to an already-outlandish locale. This is a city where dangerous criminals take sanctuary and open seedy gambling joints, where mysterious Asian henchmen kill their victims with knives rather than guns. Normal societal formalities hold no sway here: Mitchum gets a luscious kiss out of his leading lady within a minute of their meeting, and, incidentally, she gets his wallet. That the screenplay is completely predictable becomes irrelevant next to the strong characterisations and seedy, mysterious atmosphere. This being my first Sternberg film, I'm unsure of his particular directing style, but the dark foot-chases along the sleazy Macao docks struck me as being characteristic of Nicholas Ray's work.

    Though Mitchum and Russell carry the film pretty well – and, indeed, are the only reason for the film's existence – an unfortunately-underused supporting cast also does a good job. William Bendix, playing a likable character for once, is a friendly travelling salesman to whom there may be more than meets the eye. Brad Dexter is serviceable as the primary villain, but he's not particularly sinister or intimidating, and his spur-of-the-moment decision to leave the Three-Mile Limit, especially after learning of a plot to capture him, seems utterly contrived. Gloria Grahame (Ray's then-wife, though not for much longer) has a disappointingly-brief role as the villain's shunted lover; early in the film, she and Russell exchange glares than communicate pure mutual contempt. Overall, despite an all-too-familiar storyline, the Oriental-flavoured setting and enjoyable performances make for a film with a fair amount of suspense and intrigue, with just enough laconic humour to keep the story moving along nicely {Mitchum himself reportedly wrote a few scenes to bridge the otherwise-muddled screenplay}. If this one ever comes up on the TV schedule, it's worth a gander.
  • RResende9 January 2008
    Grey, not noir
    This time my intuition failed. I usually predict somethings about the films i'm about to see based on pure preconceptions, somethings i got from previews viewings of films from the producers/actors/directors i'm about to watch, the title of the film (it usually suggests a lot to me just to know the title) or pure intuition. This was this last case.

    What we have here is a noir made in the beginning of a decade of interesting aspects for American cinema: it was not experimental as the 30' (which were exploring the possibilities of a renewed medium, which had gained the possibilities of synchronized sound/image) nor as established in a genre and a sense of style as the 40'. So, in a way, it was rather undefined. But films like this one tell me that it was no longer a period for noir as the 40' (and to that matter, John Huston) defined it. The Maltese falcon changed (or maybe summarized) some conventions and introduced new possibilities in film narrative devices, and that legacy went on to be developed and still has new steps being taken today. But that style, the very appreciated hats, detectives, shadow/light which were the more visible face (and to many viewers incorrectly regarded as the essence of noir) don't work here anymore. I'm still trying to find a film noir post Sunset Boulevard that really works. This is not it.

    Start with Macao. It was in theory a good city to place a story of this kind. Even if the reality described in the introduction of the film is probably a tremendous exaggeration (and invention) over what really happened in Macao those days, that is an exaggeration one is willing to accept, for cinematic richness. A side complaint is the portrayal of the Portuguese policeman. The fat moustache corrupt guy is a preconception i suppose many Europeans had (some may still have it today) regarding the Portuguese. I don't know the ideas American had on this, but this stylizations upsets today, but probably in 20 years from now there preconceptions we see on today's films that will be noted. Anyway, i get in many many American films with more than 30 years a lot of situations like this (the Japanese from Breakfast at Tiffany's comes to my mind right now). Anyway Macao starts as a promise in the voice off, but ends as a dull slightly oriental slightly generic studio set, with no great interest beyond what was described of it.

    Behind this there was the controlling and charismatic (rich) H.Hughes. He was probably very controlling regarding his productions (he was himself someone who had got into the delicate work of directing). He places two of his fetishes here: Mitchum and Russell. So, we had Hughes, wanting to create a classic noir picture. In order to do that he calls a competent (more than competent) director, who precisely been able to bring out some very competent work in placing stories in strange exotic sceneries; Hughes, knowing that, searches a typical noir scenario, not fresh, not interesting (or at least not interestingly explored). The plot is not even near anything interesting from the previous decade. Is there any doubt somewhere in the plot? What don't we know? Don't we know who is controlling the story? Is there any ambiguity regarding any character? Grahame was the woman in the story who might have brought some ambiguity regarding the "god" in the story, the puppeteer controlling actions on the viewers back, but is totally misused. The scene with Mitchum and Russell in the boat too much near the beginning throws away any ambiguity or game there might occur between both. Mitchum is just about walking around in white suit, portraying his "americanhood". Russell might have been seductive and mysterious to Hughes eyes, but here she was an ordinary woman, fully out passed by Grahame in the much less scenes where she performed. Russell had better moments in films.

    So this is nostalgic, i had interesting in watching it, but it didn't live up to my expectations.

    My opinion: 2/5
  • writers_reign30 December 2016
    Chinese Whispers
    Warning: Spoilers
    From the late forties to the early fifties Robert Mitchum appeared to spend all his time in semi-exotic locales with either Jane Greer or Jane Russell thrown into the mix. As often as not he was down-on-his- luck, an adventurer, or both and all the movies were produced at RKO by owner Howard Hughes. This is really no better or worse than The Big Steal, His Kind Of Woman or any of the others although buffs will recognize the cluttered set signature style of Joseph Von Sternberg who was hired then fired by Hughes so that the movie was completed by Nicholas Ray, then in the process of divorcing Gloria Grahame, who was just along for the ride as the girl friend of Brad Dexter, who owns the largest casino in Macao but, like Pepe le Moko, can't go home again. It's a pleasant enough time-passer and Russell gets to slaughter One For My Baby, what's not to like.
  • Edgar Soberon Torchia28 December 2011
    Macao Gesture
    After the bad experience Josef von Sternberg had had while shooting "Jet Pilot" for Howard Hughes, things improved a bit with "Macao" (1952). It is an escapist divertimento, with the pleasant combination of Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, two hot stars who projected the image of professional fun-lovers, although you never knew who had brought the grass, and who had the rolling paper. They had appeared together in the 1951 film noir, "His Kind of Woman" (very enjoyable, highly recommended, with Vincent Price in one of his finest roles ever), set in a sound stage Mexico. "Macao" offered the opportunity to travel again, to another Hollywood sound stage, in one of those "exotic" confections (mind you, probably done with a lot of grass, but not enough cash), and who better than Sternberg, who had made the Marlene Dietrich films and "The Shanghai Gesture" (with Ona Munson as the villain); who better than he to evoke the Portuguese colony of Macao in a Californian sound stage? Mitchum is at home in the story of an American who helps to catch a fellow countryman who administers a casino, sell drugs and is wanted by the law, while la Russell, well, a good friend of boss Hughes as she was, only had to sing, be herself and pass a good time in company of a fine cast that included the great Gloria Grahame (forced by Hughes to play a little part, instead of being in "A Place in the Sun"), William Bendix and Thomas Gomez. When Sternberg had already shot two thirds of the script, Hughes had a tantrum "a lo Leonardo DiCaprio" in "The Aviator", he fired Josef, and Nicholas Ray and a few more acolytes shot additional scenes. Enjoy!
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