Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Racket - Great Story, Dialogue, Acting, Direction

Here is a clip from one of my favorite movies, directed by John Cromwell and Nicholas Ray. "The Racket" along with other Robert Ryan movies was the inspiration for my web series "Weekend Pussy Hunt".

This movie works on almost every level. It has a good story, great dialogue, brilliant direction and what I look for most of all in movies- wonderful interaction between rich personalities portrayed by distinct charismatic actors.

The Racket stars Robert Ryan and Robert Mitchum and they play wonderfully against each other. Mitchum is usually an underplayed character. He has such a strong natural presence that he doesn't really need to act much, although he fills these scenes with subtle amusing expressions that contrast and color Ryan's more active character. Robert Ryan is a methodical thinking actor who adds inventive quirks, expressions and actions to his own natural charisma. These distinct nuances make his best characters positively gripping - and ominous. Watch all the things Ryan does with his tongue-even with his mouth closed!

I'm gonna guess that none of these actors' touches that make the movie come to life have anything to do with the script - even though it's an excellent script. The directors may have helped the actors bring out their best, but at least they didn't hinder their performances as some other directors had. (I always wonder how anyone can make a boring movie with charismatic actors, but it's happened often.)

My favorite part of this sequence is the way Ryan violates a poor apple that he is munching. He turns a simple and innocent prop into an instrument of filth and horror.

This whole clip is full of ideas and is the opposite of stock generic acting. The rest of the movie is too.

*** The movie credits John Cromwell as director, but Nicholas Ray did a lot of reshooting.