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The Racket

THE RACKET
DVD region 2. Odeon.

Here’s a gritty, nourish 1951 crime drama as cynical and dark and any HBO series, but one that managed to tell its story in under 90 minutes rather than dragging it out across several series.

A remake of an 1928 movie, the film follows the rivalry between crime boss Nick Scanlon (Robert Ryan) – who has bought control of most of the legal system and local government in an unnamed American city – and police captain Tom McQueeg (Robert Mitchum), who has an almost obsessive desire to bring him down. Caught up in the middle are ambitious cop Bob Johnson (William Talman), naive reporter Dave Ames (Robert Hutton) and nightclub singer Irene Hayes (Lizabeth Scott), all of whom seem to be mere pawns in a much larger game.

With its cynical look at corruption (the prosecuting attorney is in the pay of the crooks, a fact that everyone seems to know) and bleak amoral approach, this is impressive stuff. John Cromwell – allegedly assisted by Nicholas Ray and Mel Ferrer – directs with a sure hand, and the performances are all solid, breathing life into characters that are more rounded than usual.

Quality stuff.

DAVID FLINT

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