Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Love is a Racket (1932)

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. plays a lovestruck Broadway columnist who realizes by movie's end that LOVE IS A RACKET.

LOVE IS A RACKET is an interesting little pre-Code film about Broadway, the newspaper business, and mobsters, which was directed by William A. Wellman. The film has a slightly racy edge and plenty of moral ambiguity, typical of that brief era in film history. No one ever questions the hero looking the other way and burying newspaper stories about the mob. And this being the pre-Code era, someone literally gets away with murder! (A scene where the body is disposed of is briefly rather shocking.) The script has some really wonderful lines scattered here and there. It's a different kind of movie which is worth checking out.

Fairbanks brings a crisp energy to his part. Frances Dee is quite effective in her role as the ambitious, selfish woman careless of Fairbanks' affections -- a turnabout from the sweet roles she often played in films such as LITTLE WOMEN (1933) and FINISHING SCHOOL (1934), reviewed here last year.

Lee Tracy plays Fairbanks' loyal pal and Ann Dvorak is the woman who carries a torch for Fairbanks while he pines after Dee; both actors do a nice job, and Dvorak's knowing smile at the very end of the film is a nice touch.

According to IMDb, George Raft was originally in the cast but his scenes were deleted.

This movie runs 72 minutes.

The film isn't available on DVD or video but is part of the library at Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer can be viewed here.

2013 Update: LOVE IS A RACKET is now available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive.

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