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Gambler/racketeer "Knucks" McGloin takes note of just how much money and action (aside from the game itself) takes place around and about the annual Rose Bowl football game, and decides this is one sweet proposition and could be even sweeter if one had his own college and football game and had a large say beforehand as to the outcome of any game this team had. So he ups and creates his own college---Carnasie after his own neighborhood. His gangster rival. Gilatti, thinks this give McGloin a definite inside advantage and, if there is one thing a gambler can't abide, it is that someone has an inside advantage and they are not that someone. Gilatti gets himself a college football team. Education marches on. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The funniest thing about 'Rackety Rax' is its title, which is a very clever pun. 'Rackety rax!' is the first line of a college football cheer that was popular in the 1920s and thirties: in this movie, that same phrase does double duty as a college cheer and as a pun on 'rackets' as in racketeers. I've always believed that most American colleges exist only as pretexts for a football team or basketball team ... and that college sports exist primarily as a vehicle for universities (and bookies) to make money. This movie does nothing to dispel that notion.
Victor McLaglen (betraying some trouble with his accent) plays hulking gangster Knucks McGloin (great name!), who founds a school called Canarsie College. (Canarsie being a neighbourhood in New York City that produced more than its share of gangsters.) Knucks doesn't really care about higher education: Canarsie College was created only so that Knucks would be able to control a collegiate football team, which in turn would be a vehicle for his gambling activities. By organising the bookie action on Canarsie's football matches, Knucks makes enough money to offset the expense of the college.
Knucks's highly profitable operation attracts the attention of Gilotti, a rival gangster ... played by Stanley Fields, a coarse supporting actor of the 1930s who is undeservedly forgotten by film buffs. Gilotti sets up his own rival college, with a rival football team, and the shenanigans begin.
Alan Dinehart, another undeservedly forgotten supporting actor, is very funny as McLaglen's lawyer, and hulking actor Ivan Linow is good as a dim-witted athlete named Tossilitis (hilarious name!). Interestingly, McLaglen and Linow each played Hercules the strong man in the two film versions of 'The Unholy Three'. Good support here from Allen Jenkins, Vince Barnett, and Esther Howard in a rare comic role: she usually got cast in bland 'stick' parts.
I'll rate 'Rackety Rax' 5 out of 10. It's funny, but -- considering the potential of this material -- it could have been downright hilarious.
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