Once again Robert Mitchum meets up with Jane Russell in a far off exotic location for more escapades in the Noir genre. Previously they had joined forces under the RKO banner to film the much loved His Kind of Woman.
While not quite as memorable as their earlier pairing, this effort from Howard Hughes’ RKO studio has “The Mitch” playing a role he was all too familiar with by this point in his career. An exiled American with a past living a day to day existence in a far off land courtesy of director Josef von Sternberg.
Setting the pace for this action programmer our film opens up with Brad Dexter and Philip Ahn eliminating an American detective from reporting on their crooked nightclub and other underhanded enterprises. They have also employed Thomas Gomez’ border official to report any new and would be government agents who might be arriving by ship.
Enter our three main leads.
While sailing to Macao, Mitchum and Russell are already on their way to giving the viewer the much anticipated sparks that one would expect when shelling out the cash for their theater ticket. Mitch proves to be a fast worker when it comes to Russell. The problem for Mitchum is that she proves to be a much faster pickpocket. This will of course lead to more scenes of arguments, romance and double crosses throughout the film. Also on board posing as a bumbling salesman is William Bendix. Could he in fact be the G-Man that Dexter is worried about?
Dexter is of course convinced that the larger than life figure and cool headed Mitchum is the man to watch out for. He’s not only sure that Mitchum is the detective but doesn’t like the fact that Russell seems quite taken with him. Dexter has designs on his new nightclub singing star for himself. Russell’s beauty is stunningly enhanced in a white dress while singing to the patrons. She also gives us the standard “One more for my baby and one more for the road” before the fade out.
Before long, Mitchum is in over his head getting caught between shady Dexter and long legged Russell. Not to mention Bendix turning up at his doorstep with a rather dangerous proposition that helps move the plot along to it’s rather predictable ending.
Having said that, don’t turn the channel just yet. It’s all played out in enjoyable fashion and we get Noir favorite Gloria Grahame as an added bonus playing Dexter’s current squeeze who wants to remain just that. Grahame was on a career roll winning an Oscar for the Bad and The Beautiful in this same year before moving on to her date with Lee Marvin in Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat in 1953.
It would have been nice to see one more Mitchum – Russell pairing so we could call it a Noir trilogy to go along with this and His Kind of Woman. On screen they looked and played off each other wonderfully.
Championing the character actors is always one of my missions and William Bendix is a frequent visitor to my reviews. Never pass up the opportunity to catch him on screen.
Brad Dexter would kick around for another ten years before finding movie immortality as the one member of the Magnificent Seven that seems to stump people. Of note here is the presence of Vladimir Sokoloff as a blind beggar who sees all. He would appear with Dexter in the famed western as the old man who convinces the farmers to go and seek professional help in the form of gun fighters at the films beginning.
I am always pushing Robert Mitchum films to anyone who listens so if you haven’t caught this one, do so now.