The Racketeer (November 9, 1929)

Robert Armstrong
 

Released on November 9, 1929: (running time 66 minutes) The biggest racketeer in New York City likes poor society girl Rhoda, and helps her drunken violinist friend in order to get closer to her.

Produced by Ralph Block

Directed by Howard Higgin

The Actors: Robert Armstrong (Mahlon Keane), Carole Lombard (Rhoda Philbrooke), Roland Drew (Tony Vaughan), Paul Hurst (Mehaffy, policeman), Kit Guard (Gus), Al Hill (Squid, Keane's chauffeur), Bobby Dunn (The Rat), Budd Fine (Bernie Weber), Hedda Hopper (Mrs. Karen Lee), Jeanette Loff (Millie Chapman), John Loder (Jack Oakhurst), Winter Hall (Mr. Sam Chapman), Winifred Harris (Mrs. Margaret Chapman), Robert Parrish (street urchin), Phillips Smalley (roulette player)

 

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The Soft-Hearted Killer and the Blonde Poker Cheater

1929 was quite a year in the U.S. On February 14, 1929, Valentine’s Day, seven racketeers from Bugs Moran’s gang were murdered in Chicago in a hail of machine gun bullets, courtesy of Al Capone’s gang. Booze was illegal from 1920 until 1933, and much of the wealth of gangsters came from providing liquor from Canada and the Caribbean islands to thirsty Americans. With liquor flowing freely in the ‘Speak Easies,’ and business booming in the rapidly growing Americas, the 1920’s is remembered as the ‘Roaring 20’s,’ when life in the big cities was fast, furious, and fun.

On September 3, 1929, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit $381.17 – and would soon crash, not reaching that number again for 25 years, as the Great Depression began to ravage the world. In September, 1929, the stock market would drop a greater percentage than it ever has before or after. In December, 1929, President Herbert Hoover tells Congress that the stock market crash is over, prosperity is back, and there is nothing to worry about. Despite his encouraging words, the Great Depression would continue to get worse, and not end until 1942 when World War Two forced us to build factories and hire workers to produce ships, airplanes and everything else needed for the war effort.

This gangster adventure was filmed before the boom generation turned bust, but was released in November, a little more than a month after the big business crash. The mood is very ‘Roaring 20’s’ style. Talking motion pictures had just been invented, and this is one of the first batch of stories that was experimenting with sound.

Robert Armstrong is a racketeer in New York City, who is very tough on his opponents, but very kind to his own, and to the down-and-out. The wealthy gangster will fall in love with a beautiful blonde adulteress, played by Carole Lombard. She is the scandal of the blue-bloods because her husband divorced her after she began an affair with a violinist. Shunned by her wealthy friends, she needs the help of the racketeer to survive, but still loves the drunken violinist. She will finally be forced to decide between the man she loves, and the racketeer that supports not only her, but her violinist lover. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

John Loder, Jeanette Loff, Robert Armstrong, Kit Guard, Hedda Hopper
John Loder, Jeanette Loff, Robert Armstrong, Kit Guard, Hedda Hopper
Al Hill
Al Hill
Bobby Dunn
Bobby Dunn
Bobby Dunn, Kit Guard
Bobby Dunn, Kit Guard
Budd Fine
Budd Fine
Carole Lombard, Roland Drew
Carole Lombard, Roland Drew
Carole Lombard, Robert Armstrong
Carole Lombard, Robert Armstrong
Carole Lombard, Robert Armstrong
Carole Lombard, Robert Armstrong
Hedda Hopper, Carole Lombard
Hedda Hopper, Carole Lombard
Hedda Hopper, John Loder, Jeanette Loff
Hedda Hopper, John Loder, Jeanette Loff
Hedda Hopper, Carole Lombard
Hedda Hopper, Carole Lombard
Jeanette Loff, Robert Armstrong, Kit Guard
Jeanette Loff, Robert Armstrong, Kit Guard
John Loder, Jeanette Loff
John Loder, Jeanette Loff
Kit Guard
Kit Guard
Kit Guard, Robert Armstrong
Kit Guard, Robert Armstrong
Kit Guard
Kit Guard
Paul Hurst, Al Hill
Paul Hurst, Al Hill
Robert Armstrong
Robert Armstrong
Robert Armstrong, Carole Lombard
Robert Armstrong, Carole Lombard
Robert Armstrong, Budd Fine
Robert Armstrong, Budd Fine
Robert Armstrong
Robert Armstrong
Roland Drew
Roland Drew
Roland Drew, Carole Lombard
Roland Drew, Carole Lombard
Roland Drew, Carole Lombard
Roland Drew, Carole Lombard