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The Racket (1951)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  12 December 1951 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 1,726 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 17 critic

The big national crime syndicate has moved into town, partnering up with local crime boss Nick Scanlon. There are only two problems: First, Nick is the violent type, preferring to do things... See full summary »

Directors:

, (uncredited) , 3 more credits »

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Joyce Mackenzie ...
Mary McQuigg (as Joyce MacKenzie)
Robert Hutton ...
Virginia Huston ...
Lucy Johnson
...
Walter Sande ...
Precinct Sgt. Jim Delaney
...
Harry Craig (Crime Commission chief investigator)
Don Porter ...
R.G. Connolly
Walter Baldwin ...
Booking Sgt. Sullivan
Brett King ...
Richard Karlan ...
Breeze Enright
Edit

Storyline

The big national crime syndicate has moved into town, partnering up with local crime boss Nick Scanlon. There are only two problems: First, Nick is the violent type, preferring to do things the old-fashioned way instead of using the syndicate's more genteel methods. The second problem is McQuigg, the only honest police captain on the force, and his loyal patrolman, Johnson. Together, they take on the violent Nick and try to foil the syndicate's plans to elect Welch, the crooked prosecutor running for a crooked judgeship. Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

YOU'LL LEARN WHO PAYS OFF WHO -- AND WHY! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 December 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Syndikat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In May 1950, Samuel Fuller was assigned to work on the film's screenplay and was considered as a possible director. See more »

Goofs

Nick Scanlon's car is a 1949 Chrysler Crown Imperial limo. In the crash scene, an older 1942 model was used. The '49 side trim has been added, but the different front end reveals the switch. See more »

Quotes

Lucy Johnson: What if we had three kids?
Officer Bob Johnson: You'd be half done. I want six.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Big Steal: Look Behind You (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
Performed by Lizabeth Scott (dubbed)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Maybe not even a noir, but it has noir stylizing and some big names
10 September 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Racket (1951)

A stellar cast and gritty photography can't quite lift this movie into the exciting classic it might have been. The basic problem here is the material, the story, which is slow and steady. It involves lots of conversations, all filmed with huge drama, about negotiating new ways of doing things as a national mob organization squeezes out the local mob boss.

This is still a good movie, for sure. Robert Ryan plays the local boss getting overshadowed and he ramps it up as usual, beating a few people senseless. Robert Mitchum is given a dull role, not as a cop on the beat but as the chief of a precinct in charge of cops on the beat. And he was once buddies with Ryan, so they have a couple of one-on-ones. Lizabeth Scott is sharp and as good as she gets in her quirky femme fatale manner, but we don't see enough of her. Throw in Ray Collins as a slithering politico (a role he seems to have been born for) and William Conrad as a corrupt cop (with many pounds to gain before his days as t.v.'s Cannon, etc.) and you see how it looks like good stuff.

A star behind the scenes is definitely cinematographer George E. Diskant, not a big name in the field but responsible for several terrific film noirs including the flawless "They Live by Night." He is in good form here even though there isn't much action. You only wish the director, John Cromwell, had more guts to let Diskant fly with things. Cromwell is one of those by-the-book directors who gets the job done but doesn't seem to see the opportunities to surprise the viewer. And he was loaded with opportunity here.

The story is basically about life as a cop in a big city. That's why half the time (almost literally) we are in the police station. Or a squad car. There is no actual crime at the center of things (lots of crimes go zipping by, for sure). It's not about solving a crime, but about getting the old boss. It's Mitchum vs. Ryan. And Ryan is more fun. Things get fairly complicated, perhaps needlessly, but the overall trend is toward justice, and how it is best served in a corrupt world. Filled with good nuances, but packaged a bit awkwardly by the end.

I say this isn't quite a film noir, but of course in the big picture most people would have to call it that. What it lacks (for me) is the loneliness of the lead character, and maybe even the evilness of the femme fatale. Mitchum is part of a big machine, and a sympathetic one (a huge police force). Ryan is just a thug, and a mean one with a small mind. It's pure crime stuff with noir stylizing. Good enough for a great evening--if you stay alert to all the details.


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