One of the biggest threats facing society is the issue of prostitution, and the United States' law enforcement agencies are working around the clock to close down the myriad forms that gangsters use to get around them - or at least the gangsters try. But with officers like Whitey Brandon (Richard Coogan) on the Vice Squad, they're fighting a losing battle against the full force of the law; take today, when he and his partner Ben Dunton (Joseph Sullivan) intercept a known pimp coming off the bus from Dallas with a girl by his side. After some questioning, the claims they met on the journey and that the girl has a modelling contract here in New York City are rejected, and the pimp is arrested - but Dunton shoots him in the back as he tries to escape.
Which is interesting in itself, since this was a rather basic B-movie on a crime topic that admitted there was corruption in the police, though it pins the blame on moral weaklings like Ben and not fine, upstanding gentlemen like Brandon who the film has absolute faith in to bring the evildoers to justice. This was one of about a million supporting features directed by Edward L. Cahn, very prolific especially in the fifties, and whose name was a guarantee of cheap and cheerful fare. Vice Raid wasn't very cheerful, however, as it took a very straightfaced approach as befitting the serious subject which come the end of the sixties would have been delivered in hypocritically lurid terms.
Probably with many chances to ogle the ladies of the night into the bargain, though here there was only one worth speaking of, Carol Hudson played by accustomed blonde bombshell Mamie Van Doren. Even though we never saw the beach, that was no excuse not to see her in her bathing suit as she poses as a model for a film that appeared to have been shot in two redressed sets, with a little location filming to open the drama out to some extent. What was happening was Brandon is fooled into arresting Carol for propositioning him, he was hoping to get to her boss Vince Malone (eternal trivia question and Magnificent Seven member Brad Dexter) bang to rights but it's the detective who winds up in the compromising position.
Carol claims she was victimised by Brandon, and it's her word against his - until Dunton claims he overheard him threatening the woman and his colleague is drummed out of his job. But is he going to take that lying down? No, of course not as our hero goes on the offensive against what the narration calls The Syndicate, which you had to assume was a stand-in for the Mafia, only they were reluctant to admit that: this was the period when F.B.I. boss J. Edgar Hoover was claiming there was no such thing, after all. Brandon does so by establishing his own model agency, in an act of somewhat overcomplicated law enforcement, and makes Malone and his cohorts believe he has left the straight and narrow to join them on the other side.
Makes you wonder what the genuine model agencies were up to in 1960 New York City, if indeed there were any, but in the end Vice Raid was just too stern, just too square to supply the trashiness necessary to make it worth a second glance. Naturally, any Mamie fans would be watching it anyway, and through she didn't get to show off her singing and dancing skills in this one, she did get to be the bad girl which can be entertaining in itself. And a bad girl who is redeemed, indicating somewhat refreshingly that the film did not blame the prostitutes for getting into the sort of trouble this tiptoed around without going into the ins and outs of what it was exactly they were doing to make their bosses a fortune. To underline the innocence of the ladies, Carol's sister Louise (Carol Nugent, who would be better known for marrying the "troubled" Nick Adams) shows up to stay with her, and winds up beaten and raped by one of the gangsters, so we are in no doubt of who is exploiting whom. It's a good thing men like Brandon were around back then - now we don't have any prostitution at all! Music by John Neel.
Hugely prolific, underrrated American director specialising in crime and sci-fi, who turned in some 120 B-movies over 30 years. Cahn began directing for Universal in 1930, and over the next two decades worked at most of the major studios, turning in films like Emergency Call, Main Street After Dark and I Cheated the Law.
In 1956, his efficient, economic style led him to Samuel Z. Arkoff’s American International Pictures where he turned in his best films, such as The She Creature, Invasion of the Saucer Men, Invisible Invaders and It! The Terror from Beyond Space (the latter two big influences on Night of the Living Dead and Alien).