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Patrolling the Ether (1944)

Approved | | Short, Drama | 10 April 1944 (USA)
1940. Sixteen year old Phillip is one of a number of amateur radio operators across the US, doing it purely as a fun hobby. He is informed by Bill Beck of the Radio and Intelligence ... See full summary »



(original story) (as De Vallon Scott), (original story) | 2 more credits »


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Uncredited cast:
Hazel Brooks ...
Taxi Driver / German Spy (uncredited)
German Spy in Taxi (uncredited)
Phillip (uncredited)
Bill Beck (uncredited)
Connie Gilchrist ...
Phillip's Mother (uncredited)
Chief of Radio Intelligence Division (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ...
Bit Role (uncredited)
Emmett Vogan ...
Aide to Chief of Radio Intelligence Division (uncredited)


1940. Sixteen year old Phillip is one of a number of amateur radio operators across the US, doing it purely as a fun hobby. He is informed by Bill Beck of the Radio and Intelligence Division (RID) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that amateur international radio communication is now banned due to spying a result of the war in Europe. Beck, on behalf of the RID, asks Phillip, however, to continue to monitor the airwaves for suspicious activity. This request is similar to several others made to "Phillip"s across the country by the RID, this group of Phillips the invisible army of unofficial watchers in the name of national security. Their role becomes more important as the US enters the war. The important work of the RID is presented in one case, where they have to locate the source of an enemy radio transmission based on information received from several monitoring stations across the country. The field agents, like Beck, have to do the still dangerous ground work to ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Drama







Release Date:

10 April 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Patrolling the Ether: A Crime Does Not Pay Subject  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was the first movie in the USA to premiere on television. See more »

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User Reviews

Just how true is all this? Probably not very.
24 November 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

Up until WWII, the Crime Does Not Pay series from MGM was exceptional and very realistic. However, with the advent of the war, the studio began using the shorts more and more for propaganda purposes and realism began to wane. In fact, when this film begins, you'll probably notice that the format has changed--there is no MGM crime reporter or introduction by some fake government official. In fact, there's no introduction at all--the first like this in the series.

The film begins just before the US enters WWII and an FCC agent is shown, briefly, visiting the home of a young HAM radio operator to ask him to stop broadcasting but begin monitoring for unusual activity. Then, the film jumps ahead to 1944 and the story is about a ring of spies who are broadcasting information to the German fleet about the movement of American cargo ships. Here's where it gets really crazy, as one of the broadcasting locations is in a cemetery--under the earth in a fake grave!!! But these evil scum have escaped--is there any chance they'll catch them and save democracy? While there were a few substantiated cases of Axis spies in the US during the war, they were very few and far between. However, if you watched a lot of Hollywood films at the time, you'd think they were just about everywhere! And, having them working inside a subterranean fake grave is just silly. Overall, a ridiculous but reasonably enjoyable propaganda film--and clearly not up to the standards of the usual Crime Does Not Pay short.

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