(director: Howard Higgin; screenwriters: Paul Gangelin/A.A. Kline; cinematographer: David Abel; editor: Doane Harrison; music: Josiah Zuro; cast: Robert Armstrong (Mahlon Keane), Carol Lombard (Rhoda Philbrooke), Roland Drew (Tony Vaughan), Jeanette Loff (Millie Chapman), John Loder (Jack Oakhurst), Paul Hurst (Patrolman Mehaffy), Hedda Hopper (Karen Lee), Kit Guard (Gus), Al Hill (Squid), Budd Fine (Bernie Weber); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ralph Block; Pathé Exchange/Navarre Entertainment; 1929)

“… relies on Carol Lombard’s star presence to pull it through its trite melodramatic moments.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Earlie talkie. This routine crime drama relies on Carol Lombard’s star presence to pull it through its trite melodramatic moments. Henry Higgin (“The Leatherneck”/”High Voltage”) directs and it’s written by Paul Gangelin and A.A. Kline.

Tony Vaughan (Roland Drew) is a penniless, drunken violinist playing on the street. He’s about to be brought in for vagrancy by beat cop Mehaffy (Paul Hurst), but suave NYC racketeer Mahlon Keane (Robert Armstrong) stuffs $50 in the bum’s pocket and orders a taxi for the violinist who feinted to go to the YMCA. The cab hailed has the gorgeous passenger Rhoda Philbrooke (Carol Lombard), who happens to be Tony’s gal. Rhoda left her wealthy socialite hubby to be with Tony, and is now destitute. Later at a charity social hosted by Karen Lee (Hedda Hopper), the beauty meets the lovesick Mahlon formally. While playing poker, Rhoda cheats her socialite friends and he doesn’t blab. Rhoda tells him she needs the dough to rehabilitate Tony, the love of her life, and he offers to help by arranging for Tony to give a concert. He also expects to marry her in return, but Mahlon’s life of crime catches up with him, as he plugs rival gangster Weber (Budd Fine) over conflicted robbery plans and then is eliminated in a shootout with the police. This leaves the way open for Tony and Rhoda to have a fresh start.

The Racketeer Poster