Al Douglas is a teller at the Seacost National Bank. He pleads guilty to embezzling $200,000 from the bank and is sentenced to 5-10 years in prison. He says he spent all the money, but he actually buried it. After 2½ years, he escapes to Canada. He even burns his face so he will be less recognizable. He digs up his loot but will he get the chance to spend it ? Written by
David Glagovsky <email@example.com>
How do you do, ladies and gentlemen. This is the MGM reporter speaking. I'm a man on a mission. It's my privilege to examine police files and prison records, to interview prominent authorities throughout the country, and bring to you undeniably, proof of the message that crime does not pay. You can't beat the law. The cards are stacked against you. At this time it is my privilege to interview Mr. Edward Swain, the International Bonding Company. Mr. Swain has promised me an incident...
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Crime Does Not Pay No. 1: BURIED LOOT (George B. Seitz, 1935) ***1/2
A handful of 'episodes' from this ground-breaking series used to turn up on the U.K. branch of TNT, but they seem to have been dropped from the schedule over here ever since the Cable channel became TCM which is a pity. As intimated by the complete title of the short, this was the very first entry and it certainly set the template for the rest as it is still considered among the best of them; while it does not involve a subsequently famous director like some the others, its lead Robert Taylor would achieve feature-film stardom that same year (ironically while loaned out to another studio!). The premise of this one is actually quite improbable but the Police authority that introduces the film assures us it is based on fact: Taylor has embezzled funds from the bank where he is employed and, after burying the loot, confesses the crime to his superior and that he has already spent it all. He is given five years in prison fully intending to do the entire term but, while there, his cell-mate instills doubt in him that everything can happen within that space of time and convinces the young man to break out (disguised as a priest and his companion!). After going their separate ways, Taylor goes to quite an extreme to ensure his anonymity and be free to reap the rewards of his robbery burning his face with acid! The irony is that, as soon as he digs up the booty, he runs into his ex-'pal' and is forced to share a cab with him which lands our unwise hero at his old work-place, and it is revealed that all who aided in his flight from jail were undercover cops, since his former boss had never believed Taylor's spendthrift tale! As I said, despite being a mere two-reeler, this features a compelling plot line (with the star in atypical bad-guy mode) and also contains most of the essential qualities of the gangster film then still prevalent (not to mention the unexpected dash of horror in the disfigurement episode).
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