Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


MACAO (1952). Director: Josef von Sternberg.

Into Macao come three individuals: Julie Benson (Jane Russell), who wants to look for a singing engagement; Nick Cochran (Robert Mitchum), who lost his wallet and passport and also needs a job; and Lawrence Trumble (William Bendix) who at least seems to be a legitimate businessman. The trouble starts when casino owner Vincent Halloran (Brad Dexter) makes up his mind that Cochran is really a New York City police detective who's come to haul him past the three mile limit and back to the states to pay for his crimes. But has Halloran picked the right person? What could have been an intriguing bit of film noir -- and it holds the attention in a limited way -- is done in by a poor script and a meandering pace that doesn't create or sustain any tension. Mitchum and Russell are both in butch mode throughout the movie -- Russell's as hard as nails and about as appealing -- and Bendix is as good as ever. Brad Dexter makes little impression and it's easy to see why he did mostly TV shows in the future as he lacked that certain "big screen" presence. Gloria Grahame is wasted in a small role as one of Halloran's employees.

Verdict: A wasted trip. **.

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