The Racket

Robert Ryan and Lizabeth Scott in The Racket (dir. John Cromwell, 1951).

When Howard Hughes took over RKO, he remade this film, the silent version of which he had also produced in 1928. It's a lackluster hodgepodge for the most part. In addition to Cromwell, Mel Ferrer, Tay Garnett, Nicholas Ray, and Sherman Todd all directed sequences at Hughes' command. Robert Ryan acts like he thinks he's in a good movie, as does William Talman (who went on to play the DA in the Perry Mason TV series), but Robert Mitchum and Lizabeth Scott make little effort to hide their boredom. I'm pretty sure Mitchum actually stifles some yawns. The best part is noir scholar Eddie Muller's engaging commentary on the Warner DVD: his ongoing observations on what a mess the film is are interesting in and of themselves, and when he occasionally points out things that are well done, it's almost exhilarating.

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