THE RACKET Robert Mitchum

THE RACKET. RKO Radio Pictures,1951. Robert Mitchum, Lizabeth Scot, Robert Ryan, William Talman, Ray Collins, Joyce Mackenzie, Robert Hutton, Virginia Huston, William Conrad, Walter Sande, Les Tremayne. Screenwriters: William Wister Haines & W. R. Burnett. Director: John Cromwell.

   It may be a cliché, but they don’t make pictures like The Racket any more. It was filmed in black and white and gives us characters portrayed in black and white. Robert Mitchum is a tough, incorruptible cop, and Robert Ryan gives one of his usual strong performances as a psychopath.

   The supporting cast is especially noteworthy, including William Talman and Ray Collins six years away from their success on the Perry Mason Series, though playing very different roles. This time Talman is the honest police officer; Collins is a sleazy district attorney. Also around, and underacting almost to the point of somnolence, is William Conrad, that great radio actor who would later be Cannon and Nero Wolfe on television.

   There are no great surprises in The Racket, but no disappointments either, as a tight script, co-written by W.R. Burnett, and John Cromwell’s clean direction provide a satisfying movie.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
Vol. 10, No. 1, Winter 1988.