Macao - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Macao Reviews

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½ August 7, 2016
Macao is an incredible film. It is about Nick Cochran who has a chance to restore his name by helping capture an international crime lord. Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell give fantastic performances. The screenplay is well written. Josef von Sternberg did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the adventure and drama. Macao is a must see.
June 23, 2016
I've always liked this oddball film noir. The film has a great cast with Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, William Bendix, Brad Dexter, and one of my favorite actresses, Gloria Grahame. The film was directed by Josef von Sternberg, with some rewrites and part of the film directed by the great Nicholas Ray, although there are conflicting reports as to how much of the film Ray directed. In any case, the end result is a very fun tale of romance and intrigue involving Mitchum and Bendix in an uneasy alliance to take down crime boss Dexter, while also dealing with a love triangle between Dexter, Russell, and Mitchum. Behind the scenes, director von Sternberg reportedly clashed with everyone on set, doing things like refusing to allow food on the set, to which Mitchum would bring a large picnic basket to set every day to share. Grahame also reportedly did not want to be on this picture and wanted producer Howard Hughes to loan her to Paramount to star in "A Place in the Sun," but Hughes refused to release her. Grahame would have been perfect for the role that eventually went to Shelley Winters, so it's a real tragedy Hughes refused to release her. I'm sure Grahame would have brought a lot more sympathy to the role compared to Winters performance which simply came off as irritating. But back to this film, "Macao" is not as smart as von Sternberg or Ray's best films, but it's a stylishly shot film and quite a bit of fun. And you also get Russell singing "One for My Baby." Even though this film isn't perfect, it is one that for some reason always sticks in my mind and one I like to every so often revisit.
August 24, 2014
Not much of a story, but still well worth seeing thanks to Mitchum and Russell. Gloria Grahame is also wonderful in a too-small role. 'Macao' was initially directed by Josef von Sternberg, and has some of his old exoticism. But he clashed with both the studio and stars, and so Nicholas Ray was brought in at the last minute to re-shoot scenes.
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2014
On the boat to Macao, Nick Cochran(Robert Mitchum) is just minding his business when he is hit in the head by a shoe, leading to his rescuing Julie Benson(Jane Russell) from a possible sexual assault. In return, she lifts his wallet and passport. But at least she does not have to pay for the nylons that traveling salesman Lawrence Trumble(William Bendix) gives her as a free sample. In any case, casino owner Vincent Halloran(Brad Dexter) fingers Cochran as a cop sent to replace the last New York City cop Halloran had killed.

As fairly simple as it is, "Macao" does have one neat trick of misdirection to play which probably worked better when the movie was released. After that, all it can do is rely on a little suspense and its stars' chemistry which is a mixed bag to say the least. While Robert Mitchum is supremely relaxed, Jane Russell has much more sex appeal than actual talent.(Admittedly, she can carry a tune or two.) That leaves it to Gloria Grahame to steal the movie whenever she is kind enough to put in an appearance.
September 22, 2013
It's not the best film around...but, it's still worth watching at least once in your lifetime.
Super Reviewer
February 12, 2013
This ios Film Noir at its best. Its been a long time since movies were made like this, and I miss them, filtering throught the junk that is put on film screens in the united states is very dissapointing, and not getting better, I mean why do I have to watch a present day Disney / Pixstar movie with a cartoon animal busting his balls on a fence, or why does every movie always show a man pissing,are women turned on by this I don't Think So, Anyway here is my review, sorry I got up on my soapbox again. 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. 5 Stars Should have gotten 10 its that good. 2-5-13
November 27, 2012
i love these old pix set in exotic locales think 'the letter' or 'red dust' all done on the backlot of RKO
November 13, 2012
I like the two main stars, but the plot is barely there and the film is pretty short. It doesn't even take advantage of being set in Macao--it just is... for some reason. Not terrible, but not good either.
July 5, 2012
Stilren noir som går på en hel del rutin men skådespelarna drar lasten i hamn.
November 1, 2011
robert mitchum was good
½ August 18, 2011
Nice movie! Three travelers, an accused murderer (Mitchum), a singer (Russell), and a businessman (Bendix), are all on their way to Macao, an oriental country, for their own reasons. Throughout the plot, their stories intertwine until it reaches a high- action climax. Macao is a really unique film. First of all there's two directors-- Josef Von Sternberg and Nicholas Ray. I will say, they both did a great job. Ray really knew what he was doing when Sternberg got fired. Anyways, the set design is awesome, as well as the chemistry between Robert and Jane. The set was filmed partly on the studio lot, and partly in Asia, and obviously, the two made a lovely looking picture. Mitchum and Russell continued to work together after 1951's "His Kind of Woman", for the second and last time. I wish (and so will you) they worked together after Macao, and I know it had to have been a disappointment to both audiences and critics. Macao is a watchable thriller, that might not be a classic, but will be memorable for anyone who enjoys the film noir genre.
June 24, 2011
I loved this one and just re-watched it again my the songs or the stars i d/k but like red dust or the letter i can watch this over & over and i never get tired of it.
March 1, 2011
The Only Tribute I Can Give Her

Jane Russell died. Doubtless the majority reaction to this fact is divided between "Jane Russell was still alive?" and "Who?" Which I can understand; she hadn't acted in a movie since 1970 or on TV since 1986. At that, she didn't act in a lot of memorable stuff anyway. I've never even heard of several of her movies, and I haven't seen her most infamous. What's more, when I watched this last week, I didn't review it, because I couldn't quite come up with anything to say. It's several stars in a sweaty movie set in a sweaty place. (Per Wikipedia, the average humidity ranges from about 75% to as high as 90%.) It has the feel but not the quality of certain classics, and it's got sexually charged banter between Russell and Robert Mitchum. I wasn't sure I could build a review out of that. But I'm going to try today, because Jane Russell deserved a better shake than she got from the industry.

She is Julie Benson; Mitchum is Nick Cochran. They, like so many others, seem to have ended up where they are because they have nowhere else to go. She's a decent-but-not-great cabaret performer. He was in the army, in the War, and he's been drifting ever since. She only gets by through running cons, it seems, which includes talking someone into paying for her ticket with the promise that they'd "have a few laughs," then getting mad at him for inferring exactly what she was implying in the first place. She also steals Nick's wallet, including his passport, which means he attracts the attention of the police in the person of Lieutenant Sebastian (Thomas Gomez). Both Julie and Nick end up coming to the attention of Seedy Underworld Figure Vincent Halloran (Brad Dexter), another American whose greatest concern is the three-mile limit--international waters. Halloran knows that the Americans would love to get him out there so they can arrest him. And so all sorts of Shady Dealings go on.

Part of my problem was that I didn't a hundred percent understand what was going on at any given moment. I mean, it was obvious that Nick was going for Julie. It was obvious that Julie was most concerned for herself. There were some stolen diamonds, and I think Lawrence C. Trumble (William Bendix), ostensibly a traveling salesman and smalltime smuggler, was also an undercover cop. However, I'm not sure I ever worked out why exactly the Americans were after Halloran. There was an implication that neither Nick nor Julie could return to the States, but I'm not sure why or even if that was true. Both Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum were playing the sort of characters Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum tended to play--she's streetwise and out for herself. He's world-weary and looking for a decent shot. With, of course, the prospect that there's something shady going on. As I've said before, though he played about as many good guys and bad, he's in my head as playing a lot more bad guys.

There is a certain appeal to the exotic location. This story could have taken place in a number of different places around the world, even with the three-mile limit taken into consideration. However, there's something about Macao. Indeed, most movies with places in the title are set in places which seem more exciting; that's only logic. Algiers, for example, is more appealing as the setting of a movie than Peoria. Casablanca has a very different feel to it than Albuquerque. (We may safely take [i]Fargo[/i] as the exception, especially given the prosaic nature of the city is half the point.) I don't think most people have the faintest idea where Macao even is. (For the record, it is an independent economic zone in China which was until a little over ten years ago a Portuguese colony. It's subtropical and averages about seventy-two degrees year 'round.) What we know is that it's different. Maybe dangerous. [i]Exotic.[/i] The place where a woman like Jane Russell may well be the only kind of American woman you'd meet. The place where you need to be a tough guy like Robert Mitchum.

If you're planning to watch a movie in tribute of Jane Russell, you would do a lot better to check out [i]Gentlemen Prefer Blondes[/i]. Netflix has it on Instant Play--along with the sequel, [i]Gentlemen Marry Brunettes[/i], which I've never seen. However, it does make me kind of sad. It's a long-standing joke that there were two reasons to see [i]The Outlaw[/i], but I really do think there was more to Jane Russell than that. Her voice wasn't great, but it was at least as good as Marilyn Monroe's. She managed to combine the sultry performance which started her on the road to fame with a dry wit, which was what made her such a great foil in [i]Blondes[/i] in the first place. Oh, I don't think she was a great actress, though my old California history teacher, Mrs. Nicholson, says she was a fairly nice person. But I don't think Howard Hughes did her such a service as all that by promoting her assets.
½ September 7, 2010
"Macao" is late noir film, which is actually not dark enough to be noir, but at the same time is more than just an adventure A-Hollywood movie. A troubled shooting may be one of the reasons for its lack of equilibrium, this film being produced by Howard Hughes and initially directed by Josef von Sternberg (who was no stranger to exotic asian locations). Halfway through, Sternberg was fired and Nicholas Ray, the great master, finished the film remaining uncredited, among other directors, and supposedly the star Robert Mitchum led a hand in the screenplay. The action takes place in the portuguese colony, which is depicted as a sort of orient Casablanca, a place that can have a sort of decaying grandeur in its casino life, but also a dark city, where nights are dangerous and evil shadows lie in every corner. The opening sees a police inspector stabbed on his back and thrown to the river. A few days later a boat arrives bearing 3 new passengers, the central characters of the story: a salesman William Bendix, the man with a past Robert Mitchum and the femme fatale Jane Russell. All of them, off course, hide something, and are not exactly what they aim to be. Their paths mix in a particular casino, where there is a crocked owner played by Brad Dexter (the bad guy of the story), and the pin-up girl, the fabulous Gloria Grahame. All clues seem to indicate that Mitchum is a detective hot on Dexter's trail, and the game of alliances and betrayals surrounding the death of the inspector and a huge diamond take the time of the rest of the film. Off course, once again, there are a few surprises, which actually aren't really so. Despite being a good and enjoyable movie, with nice dark little touches, it is not in the league of other noirs. The chemistry between Russel and Mitchum is in the script only, there is little on the screen, and their motivations for being together at the end are shallow. Mitchum has a very sleepy performance and Russell shines only when the script giver her great comeback and sarcastic lines, which in some more intimate scenes she suddenly forgets to say, which is a shame. Also, she sings two 3 or 4 minute songs, that break the flow of the film completely, but hey... they had to sell her! The best of all is Grahame, always superb, although the role is small and she stared in this film against her will (oh, glorious studio system!). The ending has a 10 minute climatic chase scene which gives some needed rhythm to the film, but the beauty of an american city at night, as filmed by noir experts, cannot be compared with the sort of exotic streets here depicted. There is not that master cinematography here. All in all "Macao" could be half forgotten in a genre with so many gems, but the opportunities to see Russell in this type of film are not very much, so it may be worth it for that, and off course, for Gloria Grahame, one of the greatest ladies that ever was, in the same year she won her Oscar for "The Bad and the Beautiful".
August 19, 2010
Shamelessly derived from "Casablanca" - and a decent job of it. Right down to Mitchum's winning money off a crooked game in an exotic casino to fund a fast ticket out of town.

OK, it's loaded dice, not a rigged roulette wheel - it's a ticket for Mitchum, not his dame - it's a ship, not a plane - and it's Hong Kong's mid-Century gambling pit, not Morocco's. Big diff.

And there's a local lawman winking at the law, a casino-owner with a shady past - and plenty of other cinematic intellectual borrowing as well.

The plot/dialogue is a little too fluffy for true-noir (though there's some sharp/smart enough talk sprinkled about), still it's an entertaining 85 minutes - and a bit of a surprise that classic-noir fans have left this film this fairly unnoticed.

Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell ain't no Bogey and Bacall, but framed by this seedy Occidental den-of-sin filled with players playing both sides of the law, the duo is entertaining enough to watch. Mitchum always made for a good noir-gumshoe and there's just (barely) enough snooping here for him to hang his Fedora on.

Here, Russell was still well under Howard Hughes' thumb/eye, so the camera's obsessively driven to showcase her figure/endowment from every angle. As the smoky saloon songster, she belts out a couple o' forgettable numbers. Delivery-wise, Russell's interesting; at the mere turn of a word, she flips back-and-forth from hard-bit and hard-hearted to the little girl still dreaming of her Prince Charming, thereby proving a degree of acting ability. The rest of the cast plays fairly flat.

Save some establishing shots, this is all set-piece work, and it shows.

RECOMMENDATION: Not top-tier classic-noir, but still, really, fans of such should spin it up.
July 2, 2010
I see this as almost a rehash of His Kind of Woman. Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, exotic tropical location, light-hearted noir. It's pleasant, and the leads have enjoyable chemistry, and it's nice to see William Bendix and Gloria Grahame. But it doesn't pack much punch. The movie just seems to amble along from scene to scene without much sense of progression or escalation. The direction by von Sternberg is pretty hands-off, with only a few scenes (like the chase on the docks) really standing out. Fun but forgettable.
½ April 27, 2010
I don't understand why this isn't more well regarded. I know I am a sucker for on location movies, especially old on location movies; but it is also a pretty great movie. 1950's Macao is pretty great to see, and is well used in the movie, especially the chase scene on the boats in the dock. Mitchum is great, and Jane Russell and the bad fellow are both unique.
December 31, 2009
Not a great film, but not unpleasant either. Always nice to see Mitchum being Mitchum and Jane Russell being her wonderful self. The story is slightly shallow, and no one really cares about it, even the actors barely seem concerned by what is going on. The script is just a series of clichés without real interest, but it is pleasant to watch once more the old Hollywood getting involved in exotic subjects.
½ June 21, 2009
The 82 minutes feels a lot longer at times, but it has Robert Mitchum flirting cool at Jane Russell. ;) It's worth it for their snappy repartee, plus Macao looks cool too.
May 12, 2009
;) fun, mysterious romp through the casinos and quays of Colonial Macao. Jane Russell isn't much of a singer but Mitchum is in top form. Erroneously categorized as [i]Noir[/i]. Pleasant, mellow paced time passer. Nice.
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