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HISTORY

Following the onscreen credits, voice-over narration, describing Macao as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient," is heard over footage of the island. According to RKO production files contained at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, background shots were filmed in Macao and Hong Kong. In May 1948, HR announced that Universal-International had purchased the screen rights to a story entitled "Macao," which was described as a "post-war story, localed off the China coast." It has not been determined if the Universal story is related to the RKO picture. RKO purchased Bob Williams' story in Aug 1949, according to a HR item. Although the same item noted that Williams' story was "headed for early publication," no information about the story's publication has been found.
       Production files and HR news items add the following information about the picture: Sid Rogell was the film's original executive producer. Lisa Faraday and Joyce McKenzie tested for the role played by Gloria Grahame, which according to modern sources was originally conceived as a Eurasian. William Tallman tested for the role of "Halloran," according to production files. George Macready tested for a role, but was not in the final film. In early Aug 1950, actor Keye Luke was hired to create four murals for the film's casino scenes, and Ed Vorkapich, the son of montage editor Slavko Vorkapich, did sketches for director Josef von Sternberg. Location shooting took place in San Pedro and the Malibu pier.
       Macao was von Sternberg's first credited feature release since the 1942 United Artists picture The Shanghai Gesture (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). ... More Less

Following the onscreen credits, voice-over narration, describing Macao as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient," is heard over footage of the island. According to RKO production files contained at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, background shots were filmed in Macao and Hong Kong. In May 1948, HR announced that Universal-International had purchased the screen rights to a story entitled "Macao," which was described as a "post-war story, localed off the China coast." It has not been determined if the Universal story is related to the RKO picture. RKO purchased Bob Williams' story in Aug 1949, according to a HR item. Although the same item noted that Williams' story was "headed for early publication," no information about the story's publication has been found.
       Production files and HR news items add the following information about the picture: Sid Rogell was the film's original executive producer. Lisa Faraday and Joyce McKenzie tested for the role played by Gloria Grahame, which according to modern sources was originally conceived as a Eurasian. William Tallman tested for the role of "Halloran," according to production files. George Macready tested for a role, but was not in the final film. In early Aug 1950, actor Keye Luke was hired to create four murals for the film's casino scenes, and Ed Vorkapich, the son of montage editor Slavko Vorkapich, did sketches for director Josef von Sternberg. Location shooting took place in San Pedro and the Malibu pier.
       Macao was von Sternberg's first credited feature release since the 1942 United Artists picture The Shanghai Gesture (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). In 1950, Von Sternberg directed RKO's Jet Pilot (see above entry) but it was not released until 1957. According to modern sources, following two screenings of a rough cut of the film and a preview screening in Pasadena, Bischoff ordered extensive rewrites and retakes. Von Sternberg, who had a two-picture contract with RKO, declined to direct the retakes. Robert Stevenson directed retakes in Feb 1951 and Nicholas Ray directed retakes in Jul 1951, according to production files. The following writers were listed in production files as contributors to the revised script: Edward Chadosov, Norman Katkov, Walter Newman, George Bricker and Frank Moss. The extent of their contribution to the final film has not been determined, however. Producer Jerry Wald supervised retakes shot by Ray, according to production files. In Jul 1951, actor-director Mel Ferrer directed one day of retakes. Ray and Grahame, who married in 1948, separated during the retake shooting and later divorced. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Mar 1952.
---
Daily Variety
19 Mar 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Mar 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1948.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 49
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 50
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 50
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Sep 50
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 52
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Mar 52
p. 1297.
New York Times
1 May 52
p. 34.
Variety
19 Mar 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir of addl scenes
Dir of addl scenes
Dir of addl scenes
Asst dir of addl scenes
Asst dir of addl scenes
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Supv of addl scenes
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Mural painter
Sketch artist
Tech adv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Ocean Breeze" and "You Kill Me," music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Leo Robin
"One for My Baby," music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 April 1952
Production Date:
22 August--19 October 1950
addl scenes 12 February--13 February 1951
18 July--2 August 1951
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
2 April 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1633
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
81
Length(in feet):
7,263
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14788
SYNOPSIS

After a New York undercover detective is killed while conducting an investigation in the Portuguese protectorate of Macao, the police commission in Hong Kong notifies the New York police about the murder. Later, on a Macao-bound boat, American passenger Nick Cochran rescues pretty Julie Benton from a masher, but instead of expressing gratitude, she brushes him off and picks his pocket. Upon docking in Macao, Julie informs customs officials that she is an out-of-work singer, while fellow American Lawrence C. Trumble describes himself as a casino-loving salesman. Nick then admits to Lt. Sebastian of the Macao police that his passport and money were stolen and that his only identification is his Signal Corps discharge papers. Sebastian tells Nick not to worry, but later shows Vincent Halloran, the American owner of the Quick Reward casino, a photograph of Nick taken at customs. The crooked Sebastian and Halloran, a racketeer who is living in Macao to escape prosecution in the U.S., conclude that Nick is another New York undercover detective and determine to stop him. Halloran also sees a photo of Julie and is deeply smitten. Nick, meanwhile, deduces that Julie is the pickpocket and goes to her hotel room to confront her. Julie denies Nick's charge, but when Sebastian arrives, looking to deport Nick for vagrancy, she slips him some of his cash. Sebastian then suggests to Julie that she seek work at the Quick Reward. After Julie secures a singing job with Halloran, the unsuspecting Nick also asks the racketeer for work. Nick admits that he has been drifting since getting into a scrape in New York five years earlier, and Halloran refuses to ... +


After a New York undercover detective is killed while conducting an investigation in the Portuguese protectorate of Macao, the police commission in Hong Kong notifies the New York police about the murder. Later, on a Macao-bound boat, American passenger Nick Cochran rescues pretty Julie Benton from a masher, but instead of expressing gratitude, she brushes him off and picks his pocket. Upon docking in Macao, Julie informs customs officials that she is an out-of-work singer, while fellow American Lawrence C. Trumble describes himself as a casino-loving salesman. Nick then admits to Lt. Sebastian of the Macao police that his passport and money were stolen and that his only identification is his Signal Corps discharge papers. Sebastian tells Nick not to worry, but later shows Vincent Halloran, the American owner of the Quick Reward casino, a photograph of Nick taken at customs. The crooked Sebastian and Halloran, a racketeer who is living in Macao to escape prosecution in the U.S., conclude that Nick is another New York undercover detective and determine to stop him. Halloran also sees a photo of Julie and is deeply smitten. Nick, meanwhile, deduces that Julie is the pickpocket and goes to her hotel room to confront her. Julie denies Nick's charge, but when Sebastian arrives, looking to deport Nick for vagrancy, she slips him some of his cash. Sebastian then suggests to Julie that she seek work at the Quick Reward. After Julie secures a singing job with Halloran, the unsuspecting Nick also asks the racketeer for work. Nick admits that he has been drifting since getting into a scrape in New York five years earlier, and Halloran refuses to hire him. Eager to be rid of Nick, whose attraction for Julie he senses, Halloran tries to help him win at craps, but cannot bribe him to leave Macao. Instead, Nick invites Julie for a romantic sampan ride and tells her that recently he was offered a job running a plantation but, fearing loneliness, turned it down. When Julie, who has been hardened by a series of bad love affairs, expresses interest in the plantation, Nick declares that he will accept the position but that she cannot join him until he has gotten settled. Julie interprets Nick's suggested delay as a brush-off and demands to be taken back to the hotel. The next day, Trumble shows Nick a large diamond taken from a necklace and asks him to sell Halloran the necklace, which is in a hotel safe in Hong Kong. After Trumble promises him $10,000 if he succeeds, Nick approaches Halloran, who agrees to cross the three-mile limit that legally protects him and go to Hong Kong with Nick. Nick then persuades Julie of the sincerity of his emotions and reveals to Trumble, the actual undercover detective, whose real name is Lt. Brian, that he fled New York after he shot a man in a jealous rage. That night, at the docks, Nick is kidnapped by Halloran and learns that the necklace was stolen by Halloran before Trumble stole it from Halloran's fence. After discovering Nick's disappearance, Trumble sends a Morse code message to the Hong Kong police, who unwittingly wire Sebastian the next day. Upset about the communication and the necklace, Halloran decides to risk sailing to Hong Kong to meet with his fence. Julie, meanwhile, is led by a sympathetic old blind man to the house where Nick is being held. As soon as Julie sees Nick in the company of Halloran's girl friend Margie, she storms off, unaware that Halloran's thugs are threatening Nick with their guns. Margie, in turn, is jealous of Halloran's interest in Julie and allows Nick to escape, but he is pursued across the docks by Halloran's henchmen. Trumble catches up with Nick and gives him a gun just as one of the thugs throws a knife into his back. With his last breath, Trumble tells Nick about a police boat that is waiting for him and advises him to "fix things" with the New York police. Nick then finds Julie and, after convincing her of his fidelity, suggests that she accept Halloran's invitation to go to Hong Kong in order to distract him. With Margie's and Julie's help, Nick sneaks aboard Halloran's yacht and steers it toward the police boat, which is just outside the three-mile limit. As the boat crosses the limit, Nick fights with Halloran and knocks him overboard. After delivering the unconscious Halloran to the police, Nick swims back to Julie and proposes. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.