Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Don't Talk

If you're not up for a romantic movie on Valentine's Day, then you could do a lot worse than to watch a Crime Does Not Pay short. The one I saw most recently was an interesting little short from World War II titled Don't Talk.

If you've seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie Saboteur, or any of a bunch of other World War II movies set in part at defense plants, you'll know that the US was full of fifth columnists who wanted to get information. Loose lips sink ships, as they say. And these folks often looked like everyday Americans, just like you and me, at least the propaganda from the movies would have you believe.

Anyhow, in the context of this short, there's a defense plant that seems to be having difficulty getting its stuff shipped without the saboteurs finding out about the shipping plans. So the authorities start doing surveillance, staring with the place closest to the plant, a little diner where a lot of the workers eat after their shift. It seems like they talk amongst themselves enough that somebody could come in and overhear them.

This being a two-reeler, we know that the authorities are right, and the waitress/clerk at the place, Beulah (Gloria Holden) is actually working the the bad guys. The only question is how is she getting the information out. The authorities are pretty thorough in trying to find out how, looking through garbage, breaking up excess food to see if anything is being hidden in bread or cakes like the stereotypical file, and even tailing Beulah. But it takes them a while to find out, and the way they do find out seems a bit serendipitous.

However, their discovery coincides with the head of the defense plant (not part of the saboteurs) changing up the delivery from trains to trucks to keep the bad guys from finding out the change of plans. They do, of course, and the last portion of the movie is a question of whether the saboteurs will get away with their plans or not.

Don't Talk is a fairly typical Crime Does Not Pay short, which means that it's not bad, although it does have the function of delivering a moral message in general and wartime propaganda in particular, as it was released in February 1942. The shorts are definitely worth a watch, and I believe the Warner Archive released all of them in a set.

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