“Everybody’s lonely and worried and sorry — and everybody’s looking for something.”
A falsely accused veteran (Robert Mitchum) meets a beautiful lounge singer (Jane Russell) and a pushy salesman (William Bendix) while travelling to Macao, where he encounters a shady gambling hall owner (Brad Dexter) and his moll (Gloria Grahame), and is soon caught up in an international smuggling intrigue.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Gloria Grahame Films
- Jane Russell Films
- Josef von Sternberg Films
- Robert Mitchum Films
- Thieves and Criminals
- Undercover Cops
- William Bendix Films
Josef von Sternberg’s final American film before heading to Japan to make his last movie, Anatahan (1953), was this Howard Hughes-produced romantic adventure with no less than seven screenwriters (plus Mitchum himself) and three additional directors (including Nicholas Ray, who was married to but divorcing from Grahame at the time). With these credentials, one would expect it to be a complete mess, but it’s actually surprisingly diverting as long as one simply gives in to the atmospheric sets, the (sometimes confusing) intrigue, and the beautiful super-stars. Mitchum and Russell are an authentically steamy couple:
… and Grahame is a realistic romantic foe, though it’s too bad the scope of her supporting role here was such a notch down after co-starring in In a Lonely Place (1950):
I certainly don’t agree with DVD Savant’s assessment that the film “klunks along… but doesn’t really deliver,” or that “the heavy hand of Howard Hughes manages a completely anonymous look” with “the presence of von Sternberg… nigh undetectable.” Interestingly, most stories about the film’s troubled production center directly on von Sternberg, who was a consternation for all involved — especially Mitchum, who refused to put up with von Sternberg’s demands and rightfully reminded him at one point that if anyone would be fired, it wouldn’t be the star.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Gloria Grahame as Margie
- Jane Russell singing “One For the Road”
- Atmospheric cinematography
No, though it’s a fun yarn and I’m glad I saw it once.