Friday, January 19, 2007

Revisit: The Racket

An ROK Radio Pictures release 1951
Directed by Jim Cromwell
Writing credits:
Bartlett Cormack (play)
William Wister Haines (screenplay)
W.R. Burnett (screenplay)

The big national crime syndicate has moved into town, partnering up with local crime boss Nick Scanlon (Robert Ryan). 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 (Robert Mitchum), 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 a crooked prosecutor running for a crooked judgeship.

Is it just me, or does Robert Mitchum have a lazy eye? His right one, there. It always seems like he's staring off at someone else; am i right or am I just crazy? Well, if it is, it's fitting. Mitchum sleepwalks through his whole laid back tough guy schtick in this flick, a basic crime drama that is for some reason considered noir even though it doesn't really show any real properties of the genre. Even when he isn't trying, Mitchum manages to make the most convoluted and cliche pieces of cinema seem to work. Robert Ryan gives a good performance here as the manic crime boss. Nowhere near a must see, but not a complete waste of time either.

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