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The Racket (1951)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 12 December 1951 (USA)
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 »


, (uncredited) | 3 more credits »


(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joyce Mackenzie ...
Mary McQuigg (as Joyce MacKenzie)
Lucy Johnson
Precinct Sgt. Jim Delaney
Harry Craig (Crime Commission chief investigator)
R.G. Connolly
Walter Baldwin ...
Booking Sgt. Sullivan
Brett King ...
Richard Karlan ...
Breeze Enright


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


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


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 December 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Syndikat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The only film that Robert Mitchum appeared in which was a remake of a silent film. See more »


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 »


Lucy Johnson: Officer, I'd like to file a complaint.
Officer Bob Johnson: Well, madam?
Lucy Johnson: I haven't been kissed all day!
See more »


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


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

Turn that racket down.
21 June 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Racket is a remake of the 1928 film of the same name, itself based on a popular Bartlett Cormack play. With Howard Hughes backing the production it was beset with a number of problems, interference and a few director changes were prominent and the script was tampered with to try and capture the zeitgeist of the Kefauver Committee Hearings that were running prominently at the time. Plot in basic form pitches Robert Mitchum's honest police captain against Robert Ryan's no good crime boss, and the location is some corrupt American city (almost certainly Chicago).

At the time of its making, the film had a cast list that cried out as a roll for film noir/crime movie big hitters: Robert Mitchum (Out of the Past), Robert Ryan (Crossfire), Lizabeth Scott (Pitfall) and William Talman (Armoured Car Robbery), while in support there was the likes of William Conrad (The Killers), Ray Collins (Leave Her to Heaven) and Virginia Huston (also Out of the Past). Even looking at the directors who contributed on the production sees some fine genre credentials: John Cromwell (Dead Reckoning), Nicholas Ray (In a lonely Place), Mel Ferrer (The Secret Fury) and Tay Garnett (The Postman Always Rings Twice). But too many cooks can often spoil the broth, such is the case here.

Solid enough story that's unspectacular in its execution, a choppy yet just about watchable experience, and certainly a softer crime movie than it really ought to have been. It has often been coined as being a hard-hitting melodrama, but the decent thriller sequences are cloaked by a narrative that actually doesn't flow with any conviction. There's also the odd casting of Mitchum as a good guy to get around, and the film doesn't achieve that, namely because Mitchum plays it distinctly unenthusiastically. Ryan, too, looks to be going thru the motions, while Scott is woefully underused. Thankfully there's good work from Talman, Collins and Conrad to enjoy, while Huston impacts with what little she is given to work with.

On a surface viewing it's easy to believe that The Racket is a better film than it is. We enjoy seeing Ryan doing snarly villainy and throwing punches, and Mitchum, in spite of walking thru the picture, is always a watchable presence. Pulses are raised too with some gun play, auto pursuits and a roof top punch up. But strip those away and you find the odd scene slotted in that doesn't make a great deal of sense, they exist but serve no purpose since the writing doesn't recall them later. There's also the whiff of stupidity about the way the makers were clearly trying to craft an intelligent take on organised crime, yet the police really don't have to do much to nail these bad boys. It's all very well portraying Mitchum and Talman as bastions of good and pure, but at least let them have to do work to bring down the crims! While the ending is wholly unsatisfactory.

The names involved ensure the film is never boring, but confused messages and a jumbled narrative make it a film of big intentions but not much substance. As for film noir? Well it does contain film noir type characters, but really this is about as film noir as my day- glow socks. 5/10

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