Macao, L’enfer Du Jeu (1939): Only the Innocent Survive

In Jean Delannoy’s sexy, funny, and uber dark adventure-melodrama, Macao, L’enfer Du Jeu (aka Gambling Hell 1939), starring a charming Erich von Stroheim as an arms dealer, the luminous Mireille Balin as a cabaret dancer, and the suave but sinister Sessue Hayakawa as a racketeer, the spin of the roulette wheel offers no escape nor redemption.  Justice is swift and unromantic – only the innocent survive.

Don’t believe the dictates of  les enfants terribles of the French New Wave or the pompous snobbery of  contemporary ‘cineastes’,  mainstream movies do have craft, enduring meaning, and true value. Viva la difference!

The fantastic hellish climax which sees the anti-heroes destroyed is captured in the following clip.

6 thoughts on “Macao, L’enfer Du Jeu (1939): Only the Innocent Survive”

  1. Bonjour! Tony,
    Tony said,”Don’t believe the dictates of les enfants terrible of the French New Wave or the pompous snobbery of contemporary ‘cineastes’, mainstream movies do have craft, enduring meaning, and true value. Viva la difference!”
    What does this mean? 😕

    Unfortunately, I have never watched Jean Delannoy’s 1939 film entitled Macao, L’enfer Du Jeu (aka Gambling Hell…), but I have watched “les enfants terrible” over there on youtube.

    Therefore, I will seek the “former” film out to watch if it’s available on DVD…Nice video…Will post over there on Tumblr…
    Merci, for sharing!
    DeeDee 😉


  2. DeeDee this excerpt form the NY Times obituary for director Jean Delannoy of 19 June 2008 provides a background for my comments on les enfants terribles French New Waves and pompous ‘cineastes’:

    “Jean Delannoy, a French director of lavish mid-20th-century film dramas whose career plummeted after he was publicly reviled by proponents of the New Wave as the ultimate anti-auteur, died Wednesday at his home in Guainville, in southwest France. He was 100.

    His death was announced by his family, Agence France-Presse reported.

    Delannoy (pronounced duh-lah-NWAH) won a Palme d’Or from the Cannes International Film Festival for his 1946 film “La Symphonie Pastorale” (“The Pastoral Symphony”) and awards from the Venice and Berlin film festivals, for “Dieu A Besoin des Hommes” (“God Needs Men,” 1950).

    He also directed a string of highly regarded box-office hits as well as some undistinguished films, like “Notre Dame de Paris,” starring Anthony Quinn and Gina Lollobrigida; it was released in the United States in 1957 as “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

    Delannoy had worked in the film industry for two decades when in 1954 François Truffaut, then a 21-year-old critic for the film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, wrote his controversial article entitled “A Certain Trend in French Film.”

    In the article, Truffaut attacked France’s commercial cinema and its so-called tradition of quality, as exemplified by Delannoy and certain colleagues, and advocated in its place auteurism, a new, director-centered filmmaking style, which Truffaut himself would embrace as a filmmaker. France’s established directors, Truffaut wrote, had failed to express their personalities or espouse a worldview. The worst of Jean Renoir’s movies, he added, would always be more interesting than the best of Delannoy’s.

    Delannoy responded by letter, calling the criticism “so low that I have never encountered anything like it in my 20 years in the profession.” He believed that a director’s job was to realize the work of the scriptwriters; Truffaut considered that attitude contemptuous of film as an art form.

    Jean-Luc Godard shared Truffaut’s opinion, once suggesting that when Delannoy carried a briefcase to the studio, he might as well be going to an insurance office.”

    The upstart arrogance of Truffaut and Godard would have been galling to Dellanoy. It is ironic that many of the so-called Hollywood ‘auteurs’ that the New Wave deified built their careers on filming great screenplays. A director is only as good as the script. Competent directors are a dime-a-dozen, but great writers are rare.


  3. Bonjour! Tony
    Je suis choqué… pour trouver jeux d’argent se passe ici? … Non, mais que l’attaque sur les travaux de Delannoy, a été initié par Truffant, au lieu de,Godard…
    …Ironique, où est ton aiguillon.
    Est-il vrai que les deux Truffant et Godard finirait, «société» en raison d’une différence d’opinion?
    Merci, pour le partage … L’article Nouvelles, capture d’écran (s) et la vidéo aussi!


  4. My apologies in getting back here, as the last few days have been hectic for the obvious reasons. I must say I agree with your disclaimer and with the glowing assessment here and the stunning climactic clip. I am also a fan of ‘The Pastoral Symphony,’ which you note here rightfully in your response to Dee Dee as one of the director’s most vital works. By leaving the box a lot as of late you are opening up new avenues of cinematic appreciation.


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