“It was made under the supervision of six different men in charge… and instead of fingers in that pie, half a dozen clowns immersed various parts of their anatomy into it. ”
- Director Josef Von Sternberg in his autobiography Fun in a Chinese Laundry
What a pastiche! A boring stupid movie that has the fingerprints of RKO studio boss Howard Hughes all over it. Hughes didn’t like Von Sternberg’s first cut and had Nicholas Ray direct retakes and additional scenes. Obviously neither man had any real interest in the project. How anyone can include it in the noir canon has me beat.
The whole debacle is an excuse to get Mitchum and Russell on screen together, for some rather lame he loves me she loves me not antics in a preposterous mistaken identity cum gambling racket story set in of all places, Macao. The two plodding chase scenes are about as thrilling as it gets. Who’s to blame? Von Sternberg or Ray? Let’s say both.
Though I think a tawdry tantrum scene with Russell exposing a full leg is most certainly a Von Sternberg touch.
Gloria Grahame does add a touch of class in a small role as a gangster’s mole, but even she begged her then divorcing husband Ray, to cut her out of the picture completely.
Try it only after too much cheap rye…