THE RACKET, from noir-stuffed 1951, is a remake of a play and a seminal gangster film of the same name made in 1928. The original, one of the first movies produced by Howard Hughes, was a success and was an early Oscar nominee for Best Picture. This one, perhaps keyed off the famous Kefauver Crime Committee hearings of 1950, was done when Hughes was running R-K-O studios, and was directed by John Cromwell (who’d acted in the original play). Hughes didn’t like Cromwell’s finished material, so by the time it was released Nicholas Ray, Tay Garnett, Mel Ferrer and Sherman Todd had all tinkered with directing parts of it. The 89-minute story of a few honest cops trying to buck city-wide corruption has some plot construction problems, courtesy of Hughes meddling and the assortment of directors, but thanks to a good cast of types it holds the interest. *
Tough and honest ‘Capt. Thomas McQuigg’ (Robert Mitchum) has some decent cops in his department but they’re up against the ruthless organization run by flamboyant crook ‘Nick Scanlon’ (Robert Ryan), who has the D.A. in his pocket as well as a number of other officers and officials. The intimation is that it’s a given that the rot goes even higher up the food chain. Some roughing-up and rubbing-out is on the menu, with welcome servings of the expected genre sarcasm.
Mitchum walked through this one (dig his hair-style), Ryan is good, Lizabeth Scott has an undeveloped supporting role. William Conrad gets another scene-stealing bit as a slime. Earning $5,000,000, it scored 60th place for the year.
Featuring William Talman, Ray Collins, Joyce MacKenzie, Robert Hutton, Don Porter, Les Tremayne, Walter Sande, Milburn Stone, Richard Reeves, Ralph Peters, Harry Lauter, Don Beddoe.
* Crime paid in ’51: Detective Story, On Dangerous Ground, His Kind Of Woman, The Strip, The Enforcer, The Mob, He Ran All The Way, Cry Danger, Fourteen Hours, Storm Warning, The 13th Letter, Appointment With Danger and Inside The Walls Of Folsom Prison. Lot’s of ‘danger’ going on there.