6.9/10
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27 user 13 critic

The Racket (1928)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 1 November 1928 (USA)
An honest police captain vows to bring down a powerful bootlegger who is protected by corrupt politicians and judges.

Director:

Lewis Milestone

Writers:

Bartlett Cormack (from the stage success of), Bartlett Cormack (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Thomas Meighan ... Captain James McQuigg
Louis Wolheim ... Nick Scarsi
Marie Prevost ... Helen Hayes
G. Pat Collins ... Patrolman Johnson (as Pat Collins)
Henry Sedley Henry Sedley ... Spike
George E. Stone ... Joe Scarsi (as George Stone)
Sam De Grasse ... District Attorney Welch (as Sam DeGrasse)
Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher ... Miller (as Skeets Gallagher)
Lee Moran ... Pratt
John Darrow ... Dave Ames - Cub Reporter
Lucien Prival ... Chick
Dan Wolheim Dan Wolheim ... Sgt. Turck
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Storyline

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 TimeNTide

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 November 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Lei dos Fortes See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Caddo Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(2004 alternate)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 US. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[McQuigg ducks into a doorway when one of Scari's henchmen shoots at but purposely misses him. Scarsi emerges from behind the door]
Nick Scarsi: Hello, Mac.
Police Captain James McQuigg: Hello, Nick.
Nick Scarsi: Take a tip, Mac... change your racket.
Police Captain James McQuigg: I like my racket... and I haven't shot yet.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 2004, The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Flicker Alley, LLC copyrighted a new digital version with a new orchestral score composed, arranged and conducted by 'Robert Israel (II)'. It was produced by Jeffery Masino and runs 84 minutes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Tad Too Early
8 July 2012 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Racket proved me wrong about a certain assumption I had always maintained that gangster films came really alive once sound came in because the snappy dialog of a Cagney, Bogart, or Robinson film was integral to the success. This film could hold its own with any of the sound films of the genre.

It originated on Broadway as a three act play all taking place in a police station that is captained by Thomas Meighan who is a doggedly honest cop in a city that is systemically corrupt. It's gotten real personal between Meighan and gangland boss Louis Wolheim. Wolheim is a swaggering arrogant sort who's even got his superiors out of joint with him for his quick resort to violence. Wolheim is a misanthropic sort who does not like women, no gangster molls for him. He has a weakness though, his spoiled rotten younger brother George E. Stone who has fallen big time for torch singing Marie Prevost. All that brings Wolheim down eventually.

Seeing Prevost on top of an upright piano she is obviously basing her character on Helen Morgan. The Racket came to the screen a tad too early, some musical numbers would have been good and might have happened if the film had been done even a few months later. Maybe even Morgan herself might have done the part.

As for Meighan his character is clearly based on Lewis J. Valentine who was a model captain who during the Roaring Twenties maintained his honesty in a corrupt era. Eventually Fiorello LaGuardia made him New York City's police commissioner and he was probably the best that ever filled that job. But that was in the future.

Howard Hughes produced this for Paramount and when he took over RKO he remade it with Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, and Lizabeth Scott. It's a film that I like very much so it was a double treat for me to see this version of the same story. I'd recommend seeing both back to back.

And The Racket was up for an Oscar for Best Picture in the year of the first ceremonies. It lost to another Paramount film Wings.

The Racket proves that silent films could make good gangster films.


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