An honest police captain named McQuigg becomes a tough rival to a powerful bootlegger named Scarsi, even though McQuigg's pinches never stick because Scarsi and his organization control the corrupt politicians and judges. When Scarsi can't scare McQuigg off, he gets him transferred to a quiet police precinct in the suburbs, but McQuigg continues their war of words via a pair of wisecracking newspaper reporters. Then McQuigg catches a huge break when Scarsi's younger brother gets picked up for a hit and run accident in his precinct, putting in motion a complex plan to bring down the mobster using the reporters, a nightclub singing gold digger, the upcoming elections and Scari's own organization. Written by
Only one copy of the film is known to have survived. It was long thought lost before being located in Howard Hughes' film collection after his death. The film was restored and preserved by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas film department. The restored copy is frequently shown on Turner Classic Movies in the United States. See more »
Lewis Milestone performed one of his best directing jobs with "The Racket." He had a superior cast in what, in a later talkie, might be just a mediocre script, but taken in context, "The Racket" is a great movie. Watch the byplay during the funeral, for example.
Milestone and his editors and special effects people create some excellent visual effects to complement a cast that charms even in the role of slimy bad guy. Minor characters still got their chances to shine in the spotlight and even the non-speaking -- well, of course all the characters were non-speaking in one sense -- the un-named characters whose job was to look menacing or even just interested in the goings-on, all stood out.
Frankly this film was a surprise to me -- not that it was so good, but that I had had no knowledge of it beforehand.
To come so early in the career of so many of the people connected with it, notably Howard Hughes, who had the (to me) strange title of "presenter," this film is a stand-out. Robert Israel, who wrote the music for this revival, is fast becoming one of the great composers of the modern era.
All the people who are responsible for this film's recent revival deserve the thanks of film lovers as well as film historians. "The Racket" is one to see again.
14 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?