When it comes to blonde bombshells, many people think of “The Three M’s.” At the top of the list, of course, is Marilyn Monroe who tragically died in 1962. Then there’s Jayne Mansfield, who also died at a young age in 1967. But the third “M” is still with us, Mamie Van Doren. Not only is she still with us, but she continues to promote her sex symbol image, even continuing to pose in revealing attire at age 80. She’s appeared in tons of B movies since the 1950’s, including this tale of a cop trying to stop a prostitution ring, 1960’s Vice Raid.
Richard Coogan plays police detective Whitey Brandon. As the film opens, he and his partner Ben have intercepted Mugsy, a goon from “the syndicate” who is bringing a new young woman into town. According to Sgt. Brandon “trasnporting a female you’re not married to across the state line is a federal offense,” so Mugsy gets hauled in. That is, until dirty cop Ben lets him loose and shoots him in the back.
When the syndicate learns of Mugsy’s fate, Vince Malone, the most un-ethnic mob boss in movie history, sets out to stop detective Brandon once and for all. His plan involves bringing in a special girl from Detroit to help frame Brandon and get him removed from the force. You don’t need me to tell you that girl, Carol Hudson, is played by Mamie.
The plan to frame Brandon is the type that only works in B movies. It seems that the syndicate uses modeling agencies as fronts for their prostitution racket, and Brandon knows this. So Malone and his goons simply wait for Brandon to show up at their place, which he does posing as a photographer looking for a girl to model for him. He sets up an appointment with Carol who is to join him at his hotel room that night to take pictures. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…the mob didn’t need to bother with setting this flatfoot up, he did it to himself! After donning a swim suit, Carol comes on to Brandon pretty quick and hints that she’d be willing to make a bit more money than what she gets for modeling. Of course, the honest cop takes her down to the station. But she ends up getting released when she claims that it was Brandon who not only propositioned her, but also slapped her around a bit (despite their being no evidence). Hearings follow and even Brandon’s partner Ben testifies against him. The end result is that Brandon is removed from the force.
Well duh! I mean come on, Sgt. Brandon! Your big operation involves bringing a young model, whom you suspect is probably working for the mob as a prostitute, up to a hotel room to pose for swimsuit photos?!?! No other cops are around…no recording devices. Of course he’s the one who gets in trouble!
Anyhow, now that he’s free from the constraints of being on the force, Brandon launches a complex plan of his own to nail Malone. He pretends to be getting into the prostitution racket himself and even gets Carol to help him with his scheme once one of Malone’s goons beats and rapes her sister. There’s a lot of complex plot squeezed into the 71 minute running time. It all sounds pretty horrible, too…but given this is 1960, most of the really rough stuff happens off camera.
Despite it’s ugly subject matter, Vice Raid is a fun little B picture. I have to admit, I was surprised by Mamie Van Doren. I mean, acting ability was not necessarily a prerequisite to being a successful big screen bombshell, but Van Doren is a solid actress. The material isn’t exactly of the highest caliber, but she is effective in giving her role some depth. Most of the other performers in the film are pretty stiff. Van Doren’s presence is what makes the film interesting, and it actually has nothing to do with her figure.