This film is a potpourri of oriental and expatriate American film noir. It's two major stars (Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum) fit like gloves into their roles. Their attraction to each other melts through the screen. There are also outstanding character role performances (and these are the film's other great strengths) by Brad Dexter (nightclub owner, gem smuggler, etc.) Thomas Gomez, Gloria Grahame, and a special mention of William Bendix, who really added a tight performance to the film.
The plot is one of mistaken identities, a worn-out songstress looking for a place to land and rest, a man who can't go home, and a NYC policeman on a job. The center scene of the film is a Macao nightclub run by a shady and dangerous character. Mitchum and Russell captivate this plot with their on-screen presences.
Josef von Sternberg directed this film, but his stern movie set policies offended all, and especially Mitchum who did something about it (in the video, Jane Russell, still dazzling in old-age with shining silver hair) tells us this amusing anecdote. Nicholas Ray finished up the directorial tasks when von Sternberg was booted out, and their two talents form an interesting combination.
Mitchem and Russell had a preceding hit film called "His Kind of Woman." They probably would have been teamed again after "Macao," but Howard Hughes sold the RKO studio.
All in all, Macao belongs in anyone's collection of classic film noir.