The Racket

1951, Movie, NR, 88 mins

Review

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This hard-hitting melodrama was the second film adaptation of Bartlett Cormack's popular 1920s play from Howard Hughes, who released a version in 1928 and updated the story here to tie it in with the then-controversial Kefauver crime hearings, which had captured the TV viewing audience of the day. Mitchum (in a switch from his usual casting) plays a tough, honest police captain in a midwestern city who, on the eve of an important election, battles to wrest control of the city's government from crime boss Ryan.

Director Cromwell does a fine job of keeping up a lightning pace here, and elicits a great performance from Ryan, who is truly sinister in his profile of the gang boss striving to change his unalterably violent character. Mitchum is solid if not enthusiastic in his role as an honest cop, and the rest of the cast (particularly Collins and Conrad) is excellent, though Scott, while appropriately sultry and attractive, is little more than window dressing in her role. After taking over RKO in 1948, Hughes immediately scheduled THE RACKET for production, banking on the success of the 1928 film version, though the remake is more faithful to Cormack's play (in which Cromwell had appeared as an actor). The city profiled, of course, is Chicago and its corrupt politics of the 1920s. Cromwell had been directing films on and off at RKO since 1932; this picture marked his last such assignment for the studio. leave a comment

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