Vice Squad (1953)

87-88 mins | Drama | 31 July 1953

Director:

Arnold Laven

Writer:

Lawrence Roman

Cinematographer:

Joseph Biroc

Editor:

Arthur H. Nadel

Production Designer:

Carroll Clark

Production Company:

Sequoia Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Harness Bull . Vice Squad was released in Great Britain under the title The Girl in Room 17 . According to a 27 Mar 1947 HR news item, the novel Harness Bull was first purchased as a property for Sol Lesser and Edward G. Robinson's production company, Thalia Productions. A later HR news item dated 6 May 1952 reported that Vice Squad was the first film to be produced by the newly formed Sequoia Productions, which comprised a partnership between producers Sol Lesser, Jules Levy, Arthur Gardner and Arnold Laven. The news item adds that the film was initially set in San Francisco, CA.
       As noted in the HR review and other contemporary sources, Vice Squad was shot on location in downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pacific Coast Highway and Long Beach, CA. Lux Video Theatre aired a version of the story on 24 Jan 1957, starring Pat O'Brien and Gloria ... More Less

The working title of this film was Harness Bull . Vice Squad was released in Great Britain under the title The Girl in Room 17 . According to a 27 Mar 1947 HR news item, the novel Harness Bull was first purchased as a property for Sol Lesser and Edward G. Robinson's production company, Thalia Productions. A later HR news item dated 6 May 1952 reported that Vice Squad was the first film to be produced by the newly formed Sequoia Productions, which comprised a partnership between producers Sol Lesser, Jules Levy, Arthur Gardner and Arnold Laven. The news item adds that the film was initially set in San Francisco, CA.
       As noted in the HR review and other contemporary sources, Vice Squad was shot on location in downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pacific Coast Highway and Long Beach, CA. Lux Video Theatre aired a version of the story on 24 Jan 1957, starring Pat O'Brien and Gloria Jean. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Aug 1953.
---
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1952.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jul 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Jul 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Citizen-News
19 Jul 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 1952
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 1952
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 53
p. 3.
Los Angeles Daily News
19 Jul 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Jul 53
p. 1917.
New York Times
26 Aug 53
p. 23.
The Exhibitor
15 Jul 1953
pp. 3559-60.
Variety
5 May 1953.
---
Variety
8 Jul 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Pres
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Prod asst
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Harness Bull by Leslie T. White (New York, 1937).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Harness Bull
Release Date:
31 July 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 18 July 1953
Production Date:
late November--late December 1952 at RKO-Pathé Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Sequoia Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 July 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2766
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
87-88
Length(in feet):
7,920
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16368
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, as Alan Barkis and his accomplice, Pete Monte, attempt to hot-wire a car in a sales lot, Vicki Webb bids farewell to her lover, married undertaker Jack Hartrampf, in a neighboring apartment building. The thieves are interrupted by patrolman Kellogg, and Hartrampf hides under the stairwell when he sees Barkis retreating behind a nearby wall. Barkis shoots the policeman when he attempts to arrest Pete and the thieves escape in the car. Hartrampf reluctantly tries to help Kellogg and is later brought to police headquarters for questioning. Hartrampf fears his wife, who is currently out of town, will find out about his affair, and refuses to cooperate with Lt. Bob Imlay in identifying the killers. When “Barney” Barnaby, captain of the detectives, arrives at work, his secretary Ginny informs him that Kellogg is still unconscious, Bob has not yet filed his report, and several people are waiting to see him. Barney first meets with Miss Easton, who believes her mother is being victimized by a fake foreign count. Barney assigns Sgt. Atkinson to look into it under the aegis of marriage bunko, then meets with Frankie Pierce, a convicted felon who wants to trade information in exchange for dropping attempted burglary charges against him. Barney refuses to make a deal but gets Frankie to reveal that Barkis, with whom he was in jail, is planning to rob the Federal Savings Bank. Barney assigns Ed Chisholm to investigate Frankie’s claims. In another part of town in a condemned warehouse, Barkis and his colleagues, Pete and Lou, await the arrival of Marty Kusalich, and their fifth partner, Dutch, who unknown ... +


In Los Angeles, as Alan Barkis and his accomplice, Pete Monte, attempt to hot-wire a car in a sales lot, Vicki Webb bids farewell to her lover, married undertaker Jack Hartrampf, in a neighboring apartment building. The thieves are interrupted by patrolman Kellogg, and Hartrampf hides under the stairwell when he sees Barkis retreating behind a nearby wall. Barkis shoots the policeman when he attempts to arrest Pete and the thieves escape in the car. Hartrampf reluctantly tries to help Kellogg and is later brought to police headquarters for questioning. Hartrampf fears his wife, who is currently out of town, will find out about his affair, and refuses to cooperate with Lt. Bob Imlay in identifying the killers. When “Barney” Barnaby, captain of the detectives, arrives at work, his secretary Ginny informs him that Kellogg is still unconscious, Bob has not yet filed his report, and several people are waiting to see him. Barney first meets with Miss Easton, who believes her mother is being victimized by a fake foreign count. Barney assigns Sgt. Atkinson to look into it under the aegis of marriage bunko, then meets with Frankie Pierce, a convicted felon who wants to trade information in exchange for dropping attempted burglary charges against him. Barney refuses to make a deal but gets Frankie to reveal that Barkis, with whom he was in jail, is planning to rob the Federal Savings Bank. Barney assigns Ed Chisholm to investigate Frankie’s claims. In another part of town in a condemned warehouse, Barkis and his colleagues, Pete and Lou, await the arrival of Marty Kusalich, and their fifth partner, Dutch, who unknown to them, is being held for a line-up as a suspect in Kellogg’s murder. When Hartrampf’s well-connected lawyer, Dwight Forman, arrives at the police station, Hartrampf admits it was too dark for him to see the killer’s face, and when he is questioned again, he unintentionally reveals that he had been leaving a nearby apartment house. Barney orders Bob to dismiss all suspects except Hartrampf, and find out who the undertaker had been visiting. Ed, meanwhile, arranges with Federal Savings Bank president Schaefer to set a trap for the potential robbers. When Dutch finally arrives at the warehouse and learns that Barkis shot the policeman, who has since died, Marty becomes afraid and wants to quit, but is pressured to stay. Forman, meanwhile, arranges for Hartrampf to be released, but Barney orders desk sergeant Fred to delay their departure. Later, Bob meets off-duty detective Dave at Hartrampf’s mortuary, where Dave poses as a telephone repairman and surreptitiously retrieves Hartrampf’s address book, which includes Vicki’s address on a street next to the car lot. As Hartrampf attempts to exit the police station, a female vice squad detective bumps into him and has him arrested for lewd behavior. Barney continues investigating the possible bank robbery by calling in escort agency owner Mona Ross. Although she is unfamiliar with Barkis, she agrees to stay alert for information, in exchange for a small payment. Barkis and his men position themselves on a street near the bank in preparation for the robbery, while inside, police Lt. Chisholm has set up his undercover men. After briefly meeting with Count Alfredo Di Novi, whom Atkinson is questioning, and politely discouraging a mentally unstable visitor named Jenner, Barney leaves for a scheduled television interview. As the interview begins, Barkis and his men enter the bank, except for Marty, who escapes in a taxi. Although they hold concealed weapons on Schaefer and the vault guard, Chisholm signals a policeman. An alert Barkis shoots Chisholm as he draws his gun. Lou and Dutch are killed during the ensuing gunfire but Barkis takes bank clerk Carol Lawson hostage and escapes. Barney concludes his interview early when he receives news of the attempted robbery. Later at the station, Frankie is unable to identify the two dead robbers, and Barney assures Carol’s anxious parents that he has every available policeman on the case. Bob, meanwhile, is tracking down Vicki, and although Hartrampf is again released from jail, he is re-arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct as soon as he leaves the station. During a conversation with Jenner, who believes television pictures are haunting him, Barney contacts Mona by telephone and arranges for his officers to bring her in because she says she has information, despite her protests that she is with a client. Barney then urges Jenner to consult a physician, and brings an Italian professor with whom he frequently works to meet di Montova and determine the count’s authenticity. When Mona arrives she reveals that one of her girls, Dolores, was seeing Marty, who had been making extravagant promises, and is currently at Dolores’ apartment. Frankie, who is listening in with Bob and Lacey, confirms that Marty knew Barkis in jail. Pete, meanwhile, has dropped off Barkis and Carol at the warehouse and managed to pass through a police roadblock and proceed to the harbor, where he obtains a motorboat for his escape with Barkis. While Bob and Lt. Lacey arrest Marty, the Professor informs Barney that the count is a fraud, and Barney makes a deal with di Nova to leave town or face criminal charges. When Marty is brought in for questioning, he claims innocence and offers his taxicab ride as proof. After a forensics expert determines that the same gun killed Kellogg and Chisholm, Barney arranges for Marty, Hartrampf and Vicki to be brought to another police station. There, Hartrampf, who fears his wife will soon return, is stunned to see Vicki. Under Barney’s guidance, Hartrampf identifies Marty as the killer. Hartrampf is finally released and, pressured by Barney’s tactics, Marty admits that Barkis murdered Kellogg and reveals the location of their hideout. Carol, meanwhile, attempts to escape from Barkis, but is unable to get too far because she dropped her eyeglasses and cannot see. Barney finds her and protects her as Barkis, who refuses to surrender, is shot and killed by Lacey. Pete arrives by boat shortly afterward and is arrested. Using a patrol car telephone, Carol later reassures her mother that she is safe, and Barney drives away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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