‘Vice Squad’ is a neat little police procedural movie made in 1953 and starring Edward G Robinson and Paulette Goddard. The film’s plot centres around a police detective Captain Barney Barnaby, played by Robinson and his quest to find the murderer of a police officer. He is assisted to some extent in this search by the Madam of an ‘escort agency’ played by Goddard, who keeps her ear to the ground to listen for gossip that her girls may hear about the police shooting.
This film is an odd one. It’s not one of Robinson’s better movies (for me that would be ‘The Stranger’) and there is a lot of comedic elements which some would say were incongrously inserted into the police procedural format, but that caveat should not make people shy away from watching it. The character played by Robinson is a tough talking but compassionate man who bends the rules when necessary and who deals kindly with the distressed and the mad and carries the film well. The verbal banter between Robinson and Goddard is also worth watching the film for.
The main comedic motif in the film is the cat and mouse treatment of the witness tothe police shooting by Captain Barnaby. He lets him go then has him picked up again on spurious charges in order to get him to tell the truth about what he had seen on the night of the shooting. The witness is reluctant to say he was there as he was in the location because he was with a woman who was not his wife. The witness goes through the rigmarole of being released only to be brought back to the desk again shortly afterwards. It is the frustration of this man coupled with his terror of having his wife find out about his affair that makes up the main comedic scenes.
I really enjoyed this film and was delighted to discover it and I hope you enjoy it too.