A skuzzy gangster (Phillip Van Zandt) runs a “Talent School” for naïve young girls who have hopes of breaking into show business. A wet-behind-the-ears assistant D.A. (the square-jawed John Archer) and a nosy reporter (Astrid Allwyn) set out to find out why so many of the school’s girls end up missing and/or murdered. It turns out that the school is just a front for some white slave trade racketeers who sell the most promising students off to their more unsavory clients.
I love these old exploitation movies from the 30’s and 40’s that warned our nation’s youth about the dangers of drinking, marijuana; or in this case, the white slave trade. Even the most tepid of these kinds of flicks (which City of Missing Girls would certainly qualify as) have their merits. These movies just have a charm to them that you can’t find anywhere else. Take for instance how even the scummiest of characters always wore finely pressed suits. Or how the Hayes Code prohibited the use of such world as “slavery” and “prostitution”, which sometimes made it difficult to figure out what the Hell the movie was really all about.
Although the film is rather tame and moves at a snail’s pace, City of Missing Girls definitely has its moments. The dancer’s auditions are a laugh riot (Love those somersaulting twins!) and there’s a great dancing-girls-in-a-police-line-up scene too. The film also suffers from having a little TOO much plot (Allwyn’s father ends up being the mastermind behind the school) but there’s still enough cheesy goodness to make it worth a look for fans of old school, low budget exploitation movies.
Director Elmer Clifton had previously directed the anti-marijuana classic, Assassin of Youth.