Released 1952


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Josef von Sternberg
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The tendency is to scoff at Macao as just another example of Josef von Sternberg's late-career exercises in exoticism; true, it has its problems, including a weak plot and a slightly hasty pace, but it is still an extraordinary film for its time and its personnel. The real sparkplug for the movie is Jane Russell as out-of-work singer Julie Benson, who inadvertently gets the plot rolling when she ends up in a cabin with a lout who won't take no for an answer. Her plight, and a flying shoe, brings in laconic, slightly mysterious traveler Nick Cochran (Robert Mitchum), who seems to have something to hide and manages to get his wallet (including passport) lifted by the opportunistic Julie. Crossing paths with them is Lawrence Trumble (William Bendix), a good-natured lunkhead salesman coming to Macao for the gambling. And gambling, among other less legal activities, is what local hood Halloran (Brad Dexter) is all about. He's just hot enough in international crime circles to attract the authorities, who can't touch him in Macao; he's already had one New York detective killed and expects another to arrive, and he's keeping an eye on any suspicious, unfamiliar Westerners arriving, which leads him to Julie, Cochran, and Trumble. Halloran has other, obvious plans for Julie, especially when obliging corrupt police chief Thomas Gomez points her to a singing job at his club, much to the distress of his one-time girlfriend (Gloria Grahame); he dismisses Trumble as a lovable clown. But Nick has cop written all over him and is hiding something. All of the pieces fit together neatly in the end, and everyone is keeping at least one secret that will surprise viewers. What makes Macao truly special are the performances, beginning with Jane Russell, who, with the possible exception of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, was never better. Her ample physical assets are on display as usual, but she also never gave a sharper, more naturalistic or purely sensual acting performance. Russell had clmoreless


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adrenaline junkies