Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tonight's Movie: The Racket (1951)

THE RACKET begins with a classic film noir shot of a car traveling through dark city streets as the opening credits roll. Thus the viewer is plunged into an absorbing crime drama.

The film stars Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan, two actors for whom I have steadily increasing appreciation. Mitchum plays an incorruptible police captain, while Ryan plays Mitchum's nemesis, a slightly deranged gangster. Both men have charisma to spare.

Turner Classic Movies' apt review: "Mitchum forever looks like he needs a big cup of black coffee. But he casually burns a hole in the screen... Ryan and Mitchum bounce moments off of each other like old pros; some viewers might even feel that Ryan walks away with the picture."

The cast also includes Lizabeth Scott and three actors who would later appear on a couple of TV's most famous crime shows: Ray Collins and William Talman of PERRY MASON and a young William Conrad, the future CANNON.

It's a solid, well-crafted film. My only complaint was that one character's doomed end could be anticipated from an early point in the film; less predictability would have been nice.

The movie was filmed in black and white and runs 88 minutes.

THE RACKET was produced by Howard Hughes and directed by John Cromwell, whose best films included classic weepers such as MADE FOR EACH OTHER and IN NAME ONLY. According to IMDb, Nicholas Ray and Mel Ferrer also had a hand in the film's direction. Hughes was notorious for tinkering with his films, so I'll be curious to learn more about their apparent participation when I listen to the commentary track.

THE RACKET is available on DVD as part of the Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 3. The commentary is by film noir expert Eddie Muller. (Muller's previous track for FALLEN ANGEL was excellent.) Unusually for a Warner DVD, the film's trailer is not included with the extras, but it can be viewed at TCM's website here.

Update: THE RACKET has been reissued on DVD by the Warner Archive.


Blogger jau said...

It sounds wonderful! I love love love your movie reviews!

6:13 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you so much! I love watching and writing about them and only wish I had time to do more. :)

Best wishes, Laura

12:07 PM  

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