Monday, January 21, 2013
The Woman Racket (1930)
Blanche Sweet had an extraordinary career in Hollywood. Largely known as one of D.W. Griffith's acting troupe, Sweet first appeared in a 1909 Edison short and last appeared in an episode of Dobie Gillis.
Here she appears in one of the three films she made in 1930 before she left the film industry for decades. Based on her acting in this film, she could easily have had a career had she stayed. She has an assured voice and manner.
In The Woman Racket she's a singer in a prohibition-era nightclub. During a raid, a kindly policeman (Tom Moore) allows her to escape, begins dating her and eventually marries her. She's soon bored with domestic chores, though and the excitement of the nightclub life begins calling to her... Sweet is sweet in this role and her singing is nice, too.
Tom Moore (whose career began at roughly the same time as Sweet's, 1908) gets a drubbing on IMDB for his acting, but I thought he was fine, likable and believable in the role of a patient, loving and abandoned husband. Bringing more life to the melodrama are Robert Agnew and Sally Starr, two innocent singers in the nightclub caught up in the villain's machinations. The uncredited songs used in the film, while not great, have that wonderful early '30s vibrancy and joy, this being the sweet spot of MGM musical accompaniment. It was only the villain, John Miljan, that I found less than believable. Miljan never played roles of great depth (that I've seen), but this dastardly role seemed particularly one-note, stiff and stereotypical.
Give The Woman Racket a try if you're in the mood for an average, pleasant, tuneful 1930 melodrama.