By Dave Kehr, New York times
MGM began production of its long-running series of admonitory shorts, “Crime Does Not Pay,” in 1935, the first full year in which the newly invigorated Production Code was in force. No coincidence there: Hollywood had come under heavy fire from civic groups in the early ’30s for its alleged glamorization of gangsters in films like “Public Enemy,” “Little Caesar” and “Scarface,” and now it was time for the industry to demonstrate its sense of moral responsibility, while still slipping in a little bit of titillating violence and surreptitious social dissent.
Over at Warner Brothers the studio’s most popular hoodlum, James Cagney, went to work for J. Edgar Hoover in William Keighley’s “ ‘G’-Men” — though he still got to handle a Gat — while Hoover granted his personal endorsement of the MGM shorts. Produced by Jack Chertok, who also supervised the studio’s “Our Gang” comedies, the “Crime Does Not Pay” films took around 20 minutes each to tell complete stories of transgression, capture and swift punishment.