Pretty young Joan Woodbury trades in her freedom for the promise of a band of gold when her boyfriend hits and kills someone while driving drunk. After taking the rap for him and serving prison time, she's double-crossed and dumped by the young wastrel, Joan turns to petty crime before coming into possession of documents incriminating her ex-beau and his father. With documents in hand, in short order she becomes a major player in GANGS, INC.
GANGS INC. has almost everything in place to be a minor classic. The relatively unknown Woodbury turns in a strong performance as a basically good woman who can play hard ball with the big (and bad) boys. Veteran tough guy Jack LaRue plays a childhood friend who's around to put the squeeze on the charming. Then unknown Alan Ladd has a fair sized role as an undercover cop who infiltrates Woodbury's crime gang.
The problem lies with Phil Rosen's direction. Rosen seemed to have no feel for dramatic conflict. For a crime thriller GANGS, INC. is surprisingly flat. Woodbury's showdowns with rival gang bosses should bristle with some type of tension, but instead they're about as exciting as a trip to a mortgage broker. About the only times Rosen lays on the heavy strings is during a couple of car chases (when it's too dark to clearly make out what's happening or see the actors' facial expressions) and, bizarrely, when a surprise is sprung during a courtroom scene. Apparently Rosen was more comfortable, and successful, when working on a series of Charlie Chan programmers or light and undemanding fare, such as what's probably his best known movie, the Bela Lugosi/Dead End Kids vehicle SPOOKS RUN WILD.
The transfer print for this Alpha release is a little battered, but acceptable. There are a number of times when the print was spliced, cutting out a few shots, losing some dialogue in the process.