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Directed by Fritz Lang

United States 1938 94 mins. In English

Department store owner Mr. Morris (Harry Carey) runs a tight ship, but differs from his competitors in that he hires ex-convicts looking to re-make their lives and go straight. One his employees, Joe (George Raft in a typically gangsterish performance), can’t seem to keep crime off his mind and hopes to hightail it to California. Helen (Sylvia Sidney), another ex-con employee, has a different idea—to marry Joe and settle down. She’ll do just about anything—including teaching Joe and his friends that “crime doesn’t pay” in a literal, hilarious fashion. Set to a rollicking score by famed Weimar composer Kurt Weill, including the unforgettable “Song of the Cash Register,” Lang’s third American film is unjustly overlooked in his impressive body of work, a film that flopped on release but is now regarded as one of the most idiosyncratic and charming films of the period. “I wanted to make a didactic picture teaching the audience that crime doesn’t pay. Which is a lie, because crime pays very well.”—Fritz Lang.

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Appears in: 2018 on Celluloid



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.