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Friday, December 19, 2014

Macao (1952)

A drifter (Robert Mitchum) arrives in the Portuguese colony of Macao (about 35 miles off the shore of Hong Kong) and becomes involved with a nightclub singer (Jane Russell) who works for a smuggler (Brad Dexter) wanted by the American police. Although the legendary Josef von Sternberg gets the directorial credit, he was fired midway into production and the film was finished by Nicholas Ray. The film feels more like a Nick Ray film than a von Sternberg movie. The plot itself doesn't seem all that important. It's all about style, it seems to wink at you. As cinema, it's a breezy piece of noir-ish entertainment with some sharp dialog and heated chemistry between Mitchum and Russell. It could have been better, sure but I'm more than pleased with what we got. Also in the cast: William Bendix, Thomas Gomez, Philip Ahn, Vladimir Sokoloff and in one of her four roles in 1952 that collectively won her a supporting actress Oscar (though officially it was for THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL), Gloria Grahame seductively doing her femme fatale bit as Dexter's mistress.

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