Vice Raid (1960): More Sermon than Sex
There may not be a lot of good reasons to watch Vice Raid, but Mamie Van Doren has got to be the best. Mamie was not the world’s greatest actress—she might not be included in the top 1000 or so, but Mamie was real. For those who think that a sex symbol is a woman with the build of a 12-year-old boy enhanced by huge breast implants, the sight of Van Doren may come as a shock. Like Monroe, the woman had curves and she didn’t get them on the operating table (in later life she did have cosmetic surgery). Baring as much as she could get away with, she did things for angora sweaters that Ed Wood could only dream about.
As sensationalistic as its subject matter (modeling agencies posing as cover for call girl rings), Vice Raid is relatively tame (although a young woman is raped and beaten up, with the details left to the audience’s imagination). There is no nudity and sex is implied; it certainly lacked the controversy of contemporaneous Tennessee Williams’ plays translated to the silver screen. Now Vice Raid appeals not because it’s about sex (“’Models’ Booked on Morals Charge!”), but because it is campy. From the overly self-righteousness of the narrator to its scenery-chewing stars to its happily-ever-after, Vice Raid entertains because it is so terribly dated.
As Vice Raid opens, two cops await the arrival of a bus on which a “transporter” and a babe (to use the sexist term) are arriving. One cop takes the girl to the station and puts her on a bus home while the other is arresting the transporter for a federal offense: transporting a woman across state lines (if that was a federal offense, Trailways and Greyhound bus drivers must have faced long prison terms). The perp needn’t worry about going to jail, though; the cop shoots him in the back. Thus we learn there are bad cops on the force. We also learn that there’s a “syndicate” responsible for recruiting prostitutes, selling drugs, and engaging in other antisocial activities like beating up cops and killing people.Continued on the next page