12 June 2013 | MartinHafer
An odd little wartime curio.
During WWII, lots of items were rationed--mostly because they were needed for the war effort. In some cases, such as rubber, it was even harder to get because many of the nations that provided rubber to the US and its allies had been conquered by the Japanese. So, although it's really odd, a few films like "Rubber Racketeers" (as well as "The Last Ride") were made to warn the public about organized crime and tires sold to the unsuspecting public. "The Last Ride" was a pretty good film--"Rubber Racketeers" was less so.
"Rubber Racketeers" begins badly, as you hear a young couple having a ridiculously improbably conversation about patriotism, the war effort and the need to all work together for victory. Again, it sounded nothing like a real conversation a man would have with his girlfriend, that's for sure! While "The Last Ride" had a bit of this, here in "Rubber Racketeers" they really lay it on strong--and it continues throughout the film. In fact, in several places it's obvious the characters are making speeches AT the audience and it seriously impairs the film's watchability. Even back in the ultra-patriotic 1940s, folks must have groaned at this speechifying.
As for the plot, after a gangster gets out of prison (Ricardo Cortez), his driver manages to cause an accident with his reckless driving. Because of this little incident, he eventually comes up with the idea of selling defective or stolen tires. As for the defective ones, his men are able to make them appear brand-new--but the rubber is crap. Soon, a guy has an accident due to these 'new' tires. So, his friends all band together to get down to the bottom of this--to find these evil un-Americans and bring them to justice. And, in an odd message, the film seems to endorse vigilante justice! So, is there anything I like about the film? Well, Cortez is good (as usual) but most of the rest of the acting is pretty bad. You do, however, get to see a young Alan Hale Jr. in one of his earliest roles--which is mildly interesting. And, the film is a nice window into the past--even if it is a crappy quality movie. The bottom line is that the low-budget really shows in this one, as the film just seems very cheap and jingoistic--even by WWII propaganda standards. It's mildly entertaining provided you have very low expectations! My advice--see the other film instead.
With films like this to his credit, I can understand why Ricardo Cortez soon decided to retire from pictures. He was a good actor but the quality of his films kept getting worse and worse. And, incidentally, retiring turned out to be great, as he actually was able to make a very nice living working on Wall Street according to IMDb.