Monday, February 28, 2011

Crime does not pay

Back in September 2008, I briefly mentioned Crime Does Not Pay, a series of two-reelers made by MGM from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s, which look at more or less real crime. One of the shorts actually won an Oscar in the shorts category, and that winner, Torture Money, is airing at approximately 10:08 AM ET tomorrow morning. (It's after Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which begins at 8:15 AM and is listed as having a running time of 108 minutes. You do the math.)

The title is unfortunately slightly inaccurate, as the subject isn't really torture (the series got closer to torture with the way the illegal immigrants were treated in Forbidden Passage in 1941), but insurance fraud. A criminal racket is staging automobile accidents, and then ripping off the insurance companies and municipal governments. Warner Bros. actually made a full-length B movie around the same time on the same subject with Ronald Reagan's Accidents Will Happen. The short is good enough; the acting is a bunch of bit players. Instead, these shorts are a great look at America as it was (or as Hollywood thought it was) 70 or more years ago.

Torture Money doesn't seem to be on DVD, but several of the Crime Does Not Pay shorts have made it to DVD, notably on Warner Home Video's Film Noir Collection, Vol. 3.

No comments: