February 1, 2017
Review #901: The Racket.
Thomas Meighan (Captain James McQuigg), Louis Wolheim (Nick Scarsi), Marie Prevost (Helen Hayes), G. Pat Collins (Patrolman Johnson), Henry Sedley (Spike), George E. Stone (Joe Scarsi), John Darrow (Dave Ames - Cub Reporter), and Sam De Grasse (District Attorney Welch) Directed by Lewis Milestone.
It only took until February to cover a silent film for the new year, but it's good to get back into the voiceless spirit, especially with a movie that was lost for years until it was found in the collection of producer Howard Hughes' after his death.This was one of the films nominated at the 1st Academy Awards for "Outstanding Picture", though it lost to Wings (#349. Fun fact, that year also had a category named Unique and Artistic Picture (which #499 - Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won), while also having Best Director for both Comedy and Dramatic Pictures). The Racket was based off the play of the same name (which like the film was banned in Chicago), and it certainly feels like a play at times, using only a few sets (such as the police station), but the film manages to have snappy action and efficient characters, moving at an efficient pace. Wolheim certainly has the look of a villain (due to a football injury to his nose in college), and he does a fine job at making this gangster a decent counterpart to Meighan, who also does pretty good as the authority figure, having a stern but workable attitude that certainly looks the part. The rest of the cast is also pretty good at their roles, not doing anything too over-the-top and Prevost being a fine player who doesn't get involved in romance scenes (though her chemistry with Darrow is serviceable at least). At 84 minutes, The Racket runs at a fine pace while also being the kind of crime drama that pulls all the right buttons and moves the right motions in its nifty cast and action at the right times, made just before gangster films became more prevalent. On the whole, it's a efficient film.
Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.