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The Racket Man

The Racket Man(1944)

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Remind Me

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On the day that Matt Benson is found not guilty of racketeering, his best friend, policeman "Irish" Duffy, gruffly congratulates him and hands him something that he hopes will reform Matt: his draft notice. Irish receives his draft notice also, and that night, they eat dinner with their other childhood pal, Phyllis Lake, for whom they are now friendly romantic rivals, and her brother, cub reporter Larry Lake. Matt, who loves easy money, assures his friends that he will fit into the Army easily, as he can find an "angle" in any situation, but Irish and Phyllis warn him that the Army needs team players. The next day, Matt turns over his racketeering business to ambitious Toby Sykes, who agrees to watch over the business in exchange for a full partnership upon Matt's return. Matt then reports to the induction center with Irish, who is declared 4-F due to his flat feet. Matt laughingly tells Irish that he will take care of the Army, but soon after his induction, Matt has become sick of the rules and regulations. Matt is lectured by Italian-born Tony Ciccardi, who tells him that the United States needs him, and that being in the military means being a part of something bigger than himself. Matt jeers at Tony's patriotism but is soon forced to take orders from him when Tony is promoted to sergeant. Later, Matt gets into a fight with two soldiers who razz him about being a big shot, and Tony tries to stop them. Matt hits Tony, who refuses to strike him back because of his lower rank. Tony castigates Matt for being ungrateful and not taking advantage of the opportunities being given to him, but does not report the fistfight in order to keep Matt out of trouble. Tony is demoted for not reporting the incident, after which he requests a transfer to the front lines. Tony sends his sergeant's stripes to Matt, who is stunned by Tony's sacrifice. Thereafter, Matt becomes a model soldier and grows to like the discipline and patriotism of Army life. Irish and Phyllis are gratified by the change in Matt, who requests a transfer overseas. Camp commander Captain Anderson states that Mr. Burton, a special government agent, has another job for him, which Matt at first refuses, because he wishes to find Tony and return his stripes. When Anderson informs Matt that Tony was recently killed in action, Matt agrees to work for Burton, who wants him to go undercover in his former racketeering outfit to find the black market dealers of such rationed goods as meat, rubber and gasoline. Burton admonishes Matt that he can tell no one about his work, and so Matt allows Irish, Phyllis, Sykes and others to believe that he was discharged from the Army for not fitting in. Phyllis and Irish are then devastated to see Matt apparently slipping into his former lifestyle. Matt gathers information that enables Burton to recover black market goods being sold by other racketeers and by Sykes, who has double-crossed Matt and gone into business for himself. The criminals are mystified by the police raids and believe that Larry, who has been investigating black market organizations, is the source of the leaks to the federal government. Matt attempts to protect Larry and warns him to stay away from the story. Matt proposes to Phyllis, but she tearfully tells him that she will have him only if he changes his life. Soon after, another raid convinces Sykes to take action, and he has Larry brought to his warehouse for questioning. When Larry does not show up for work, Matt becomes suspicious and goes to Sykes's warehouse, where he succeeds in freeing the young reporter. During the ensuing gunfight, however, Irish hears the shots and sees Matt shoot one of his pursuers, although it looks like murder to the late-arriving Irish. When Matt returns home, he discovers that Larry has been killed and leaves to take his revenge on Sykes. While Matt tangles with Sykes, Irish enters and demands that Matt give himself up. Sykes shoots Matt in the back while he is distracted, and Irish kills Sykes. As Matt lays dying, Burton informs Phyllis and Irish of Matt's dedicated service, and they comfort their friend with words of praise for his heroic actions.