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While America Sleeps (1939)

 -  Crime | Short  -  15 April 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 15 users  
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An episode in the "Crime Does Not Pay" series. Dave Miller, an aircraft plant worker, is actually selling secret bomber plans to foreign agents. United States Intelligence Department agents... See full summary »



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Title: While America Sleeps (1939)

While America Sleeps (1939) on IMDb 5.7/10

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Complete credited cast:
Dick Purcell ...
Dave Miller (as Richard G. Purcell)
Lenita Lane ...
Mary Miller
Egon Brecher ...
Frederick Vogeding ...
Spy Chief (as Fred Vogeding)
Spy Henchman
Richard Lane ...
Agent Carmichael
Paul Stanton ...
Arthur A. Sears
Steve Pendleton ...
George (as Gaylord Pendleton)
Charles Trowbridge ...
Robert Winkler ...
Bill Miller
John Hamilton ...
Chief of Intelligence
Phillip Terry ...
MGM Crime Reporter
Richard Tucker ...
Air Force Colonel


An episode in the "Crime Does Not Pay" series. Dave Miller, an aircraft plant worker, is actually selling secret bomber plans to foreign agents. United States Intelligence Department agents plan to trap him and the spies he works for. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Short





Release Date:

15 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Crime Does Not Pay No. 22: While America Sleeps  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Too preachy and too hard to believe.
19 November 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

The Crime Does Not Pay series of shorts from MGM were exceptionally made and highly entertaining films. However, the quality began to slip a bit during the war, as instead of entertaining, the films seem more concerned with preaching to the audiences about Americanism, spies and the like. While the US wouldn't enter WWII for two more years, you can clearly see in "While America Sleeps" that the film is preparing for that eventuality--even though no nations or nationalities are mentioned. It seemed clear to me that the filmmakers were worried about Nazi aggression but since the studios were compelled by laws (ridiculous ones at that) to remain neutral.

This film stars Dick Purcell--the same guy who later gained fame in serials playing the first Captain America. However, in this case, he's a jerk who hates America--or at least he's too selfish to care. He works for an aircraft manufacturer and is illegally photographing plans and sending them on to 'the enemy'. Naturally he's caught but instead of arresting him, government agents set a trap--ultimately proving that crime, particularly treason, does not pay.

There isn't a whole lot of subtlety to this one. It's preachy and brow-beats the audience--which is exactly what the series hadn't been doing up until this one. Unfortunately, as the war progressed, more and more of these films would be devoted to similar topics--forgetting their original style and purpose. Fair at best.

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