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Vice Raid (1959)

Just one year prior to becoming the “forgotten” member of The Magnificent Seven, Brad Dexter, appeared opposite blonde bombshell, Mamie Van Doren, in this Edward L. Cahn directed feature that shines the spotlight on the modeling industry. An industry fronting for prostitution and nudie magazines.

“Minors forbidden to open any of these magazines!” Among the titles on the shelf you’ll see Wham!, Offbeat and Bikini Girls. All for just .25 cents apiece. Now cue the narration to get this party started. Even if he does sound like Criswell moonlighting from an Edward D. Wood Jr. picture.

Richard Coogan stars in this low budget effort as a police inspector working the Vice Squad. He’s clearly marked Brad Dexter as the number one gangster in town he wants to bust which doesn’t sit well with our villain. When Coogan can’t be bought off, Dexter, will have to resort to underhanded means to get his antagonist fired from the force. Enter Miss Mamie.

“She looks like just what I need.”

At 36-22-36, she certainly is. Dexter hires Mamie’s streetwise pinup gal to hire out to the undercover Coogan who needs an attractive model for a private photo shoot. While Coogan believes he’s setting up Mamie for an arrest on prostitution, it’s really him that’s being set up. Mamie gets a little fresh over a drink, slips into her swimsuit and why not a seductive dance. As soon as the proposition is made for a few dollars, she’s arrested. What Coogan doesn’t see coming is her leveling charges against him. She claims he offered her an out for cash. A shakedown.

Coogan believes he has the force on his side but when his partner, Joseph Sullivan, backs up Mamie’s story, even Coogan’s Captain, Frank Gerstle, has his doubts about Coogan. End result, he’s off the force and he now realizes his own partner is on the take and under Dexter’s rule. For her part in getting Coogan thrown off the force, Mamie, has now taken up with Dexter as his personal property and treated to a penthouse lifestyle with complimentary furs and wardrobe to match.

While she continues to fend off Dexter’s chief goon, Barry Atwater, she’ll also have to plead ignorance to knowing the innerworkings of Dexter’s model agencies when her virginal kid sister turns up for a visit played by Carol Nugent. That’s not going to prove easy when Coogan arrives playing like he’s gone rogue and seeking his own brand of vigilante justice manhandling her.

Of course this gets back to Dexter and the combatants are now set. What Dexter doesn’t see coming is that Coogan has now decided if you can’t beat’em, join’em. He wants in for a piece of the action and if he doesn’t get it, he’ll start his own agency up and with his police connections push Dexter out of business. He’ll even offer Mamie a chance to come over to his side of town and be his number one gal.

She’ll beg off but that’s all going to change when the script delivers exactly what it had set up earlier when slimy Atwater gets a look at Mamie’s kid sister. Turns into a pretty cruel scene for 1959 audiences and even the word rape is tossed into the dialogue. Now Mamie wants her own vigilante justice and when Dexter isn’t obliging her she’ll have to turn to the one man in town who will.

Paging Mr. Coogan.

Packed into this 71 minute feature you’ll see plenty of hips and curves, machine guns, tough talking gangsters and vigilante justice. I should elaborate on that hips and curves comment. I mean plenty of Miss Mamie.

Director, Edward L. Cahn, was a prolific director with numerous credits to his name. Mostly B fare, among them you’ll find Creature With the Atom Brain, Pier 5 Havana and Mamie’s other 1959 release, Guns Girls and Gangsters. The latter is part of the recently released to blu ray Mamie Van Doren triple Noir feature. The third film in the set being The Girl In Black Stockings.

Tough guy Brad Dexter was mainly playing gangland characters in films like The Asphalt Jungle and 99 River Street before moving into westerns on television for the much of the late 1950’s. In 1960 he landed the role of Harry Luck in The Magnificent Seven and held his own among all the up and comers surrounding Yul Brynner. Following that he’d become part of the Sinatra entourage after apparently rescuing Ole’ Blue Eyes from a near drowning. You’ll see him in a pair of 1965 releases opposite Frank, Von Ryan’s Express and None But the Brave.

Then there’s Barry Atwater as the real low life here with a twisted taste for the ladies. I looked up Atwater on the IMDB and it claims he had 114 acting credits to his name yet I can only name one when cornered. He played the unforgettable vampire, Janos Skorzeny, in 1971’s hugely successful telefilm, The Night Stalker. The pilot that introduced us to Darren McGavin’s memorable Carl Kolchak.

Definite “B” film fun to be had here if you’re so inclined to get a look at a pre-Magnificent Seven, Dexter. Dexter? With all due respect what the hell am I saying. It’s another chance to see Marilyn’s competition, Mamie Van Doren, in one of her leading roles. I’d also like to add in closing, she wasn’t a bad actress either if you look past the obvious.

5 Comments »

  1. Holy Moley, it sure is difficult to figure out who you should be rooting for in this one. Brad Dexter made a good heavy, particularly in Johnny Cool (even if his role was brief in that one), even in M7 it was kinda hard to like him as he somehow convinced himself there was hidden loot around. Ms. Van Doren is still lovely as always.

  2. Definitely cheap, definitely tawdry, but still worth a watch on a slow night. Also interesting to see Dexter in something so grade-C…but he does add some production value to the proceedings. Wait, just like you…what the hell am I saying! I didn’t watch this for Dexter, I watched it for Mamie!

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