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When a police officer is shot arresting a car thief, Captain Barnaby uses his skills and contacts to track down the culprits and uncovers a bank heist plan in the process. Barnaby has no qualms about bending the law to achieve his ends, including trumped up charges to persuade his only witness to cooperate or detaining some call girls to coerce their madam to help him. In the meantime he deals with everyday police business, juggling seemingly trivial matters with more serious ones. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Vice Squad takes a documentary style approach to a single day in a police captain's life and what he might encounter.
Of course the murder of a police officer doesn't ever qualify as an ordinary day, but even on those days when an entire force is mobilized looking for a cop killer, still more mundane matters intervene.
Edward G. Robinson was in his B film period which is roughly between All My Sons and The Ten Commandments. Still Robinson always brought a certain class to the films he was doing and Vice Squad is no exception.
Second billed in the cast is Paulette Goddard who is a madam at a bordello. She was on a blacklist of sorts herself at the time, not for politics, but because she had antagonized the powerful Cecil B. DeMille during the shooting of The Unconquered. Her career was winding down, but she would be marrying Erich Maria Remarque and be leaving the screen shortly for Switzerland.
Goddard and Robinson have a nice bond between them. It's obvious he lets her operate because she can be most valuable as a snitch in a pinch. In fact she does come through with some information that starts the case being cracked.
Funny though, ten years earlier Robinson and Goddard as co-stars would have commanded an A list budget, even five years earlier. Hollywood could be very fickle at times.
Still for a B police drama, Vice Squad has an impressive cast list of quality players. Best in the film is Porter Hall, a two timing funeral director who Robinson knows saw something, but won't crack because he was spending a night with his girlfriend instead of being out of town as he told his wife. How they manage to keep him 'in the system' so to speak is really quite ingenious much to the exasperation of his lawyer, Barry Kelley who runs a close second to Hall.
Mixed in with the hunt for a cop killer are more routine matters like exposing a phony Italian count, dealing with Percy Helton's imaginary crimes and a TV interview for publicity's sake. All in the life of a Vice Squad captain.
Fans of Edward G. Robinson and Paulette Goddard will like what they see and Vice Squad is a nice tightly scripted and edited police drama.
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