directed by Josef von Strernberg and (uncredited)

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/nicholas_ray.htm
USA 1949

 

Not an entirely happy production - Sternberg, according to Mitchum, shot and cut it in such a way that characters kept walking into themselves, with the result that Nicholas Ray was called in to reshoot (uncredited) many of the action scenes - but still a delightful bit of RKO exotica. The thin story, set in the port of the title, sees Mitchum's drifter joining up with Russell's sultry singer and helping the local cops catch a criminal bigwig. But what is so enjoyable, apart from Harry Wild's shimmering camerawork, is the tongue-in-cheek tone of the script and performances, best evidenced in the sparkling banter and innuendo between Mitchum and Russell.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

*** 

My expectations for the 1952 "Macao" were not very high, although I think that Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express (1932) may be the most romantic movie ever made. His compositions built around Marlene Dietrich got more and more stylized (and they were already very stylized in "Shanghai Express") as the 1930s wore on. "Shanghai Gesture" (1941) which he wrote and directed is a travesty of a movie almost entirely set in a Shanghai casino catering to westerners, memorable mostly for the incredibly bizarre coiffure of Mother Gin Sling (Ona Munson). The debacle seemed to finish off von Sternberg's Hollywood career, but Howard Hughes temporarily revived it by hiring him to direct "Test Pilot" and then turning over the star he wanted to be transformed from a very beautiful, famously stacked, but straightforward American model into a glamorous siren, or at least femme fatale—in other words, to craft another Dietrich.

At some point, Hughes was quoted as saying that supporting Jane Russell was not a difficult engineering challenge. He was, of course, referring to designing brassieres for her. Building movies around her was more difficult. In repose, she could look like a femme fatale, but does not seem to have been able to act the part. Sternberg was more interested in showing off goddess archetypes than in acting or plotting and was not concerned about the genre requirement of a femme fatale. out of  
  

Excerpt from Steven O. Murray's Eopinions website located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 30th, 1952 - USA

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews


 

Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 

DVD Comparison:

Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC

Montparnasse Screen captures courtesy of Herb Kane

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC

The Warner is also available as part of the Robert Mitchum - The Signature Collection . It includes Angel Face / Macao / The Sundowners / Home from the Hill / The Good Guys and the Bad Guys and The Yakuza.

               

Runtime 1:20:44 1:20:42
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.63 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.72 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)  English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dolby)
Subtitles French, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: RKO / Éditions Montparnasse

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Introduction

DVD Release Date: September 16th, 2003

Slim Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by author and historian Eddie Muller, screenwriter Stanley Rubin and actress Jane Russell
• TCM Private Screenings with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, hosted by Robert Osborne (30:14)

DVD Release Date: January 23rd, 2007

In the Signature Collection a Slim Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 23

 

Comments:

ADDITION: Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC - January 07': As anticipated the Warner is now the definitive version of this rebellious Noir classic on DVD. Only single-layered but it has immensely superior contrast with more pure blacks and whites with a little more information in the frame. It is progressive and acceptably sharp. Unlike all the other films in the Mitchum Signature Boxset - it offers no French DUB.

There is a fabulous commentary led by historian Eddie Muller and screenwriter Stanley Rubin, with some latter infused input from actress Jane Russell. The only real problem with not having Russell 'live' for the commentary is that Muller and Rubin can't react to what she says. Great stories though about the conflict of Mitchum and Von Sternberg - plus the director's strict on set rules that weren't going to fly with Mitchum. Eddie knows his stuff but Rubin is rife with his own stories and anecdotes as he was working with many of the principles at the time of this film including Howard Hughes midnight screenings and clandestine meetings although the enigmatic millionaire never once set foot on the RKO lot... ever. Rubin finds time to tell a great story about Janet Leigh, more Hughes related than to the film, and his crush on Gloria Grahame. The only real issue with the commentary is that not much is spoken about what is transpiring on screen - still very captivating with lots of Hollywood gossip.

There is also a half hour TCM Private Screenings with Mitchum and Russell, hosted by Robert Osborne. It is interesting although much more politically correct than the commentary.

***   

Image looks barely acceptable and typical of PAL of editions of older Hollywood flicks - heavy, deep contrast with slight blurriness. A bit of washed sepia in there. No chroma that I am aware and it has some ghosting as it is taken from an unconverted NTSC source. Original audio with an optional French DUB or French subtitles. No extras and only one menu again.  out of    

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC RIGHT)

 
 
 

 


Subtitle Sample

 

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


 

(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 
(Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 

 


Report Card:

 

Image:

Warner

Sound:

-

Extras: Warner
Menu: Warner

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Éditions Montparnasse - Region 2 - PAL Warner - Region 1,4 - NTSC

The Warner is also available as part of the Robert Mitchum - The Signature Collection . It includes Angel Face / Macao / The Sundowners / Home from the Hill / The Good Guys and the Bad Guys and The Yakuza.

               




 

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