May 7, 2016

“Crime does not pay” — and (hopefully) slime won’t either…


“Crime does not pay.”
       Proverbial saying popularized in the 1930s
Some sources say “Crime does not pay” was coined by Chester Gould, creator of the Dick Tracy comic strip, which debuted in 1931. In fact, although its high-profile use as Tracy’s motto certainly helped popularize the saying, Gould didn’t coin it. Nor did the old time radio show The Shadow, which started airing in 1930 and ended episodes with the famous lines: “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay!”
       If you search historic news archives, you’ll find many uses of “crime does not pay” in news stories prior to the 1930s. The earliest examples I found were from the 1880s and I suspect it was probably already proverbial before that. However, it does seem that this cautionary proverb became more widely used as a cultural catchphrase in the 1930s. In addition to being featured in Dick Tracy and The Shadow, “Crime Does Not Pay” was the title of a series of short-subject films and a spinoff radio show that were popular in the mid- to late-1930s.

Trump slime cartoon rev 


“Slime does not pay...It’s wrong and it’s gross.”
       The Tick
       Comic cartoon superhero created by cartoonist Ben Edlund      
       An observation made by The Tick in Season 2 Episode 1 of the animated series (“The Little Wooden Boy and the Belly of Love”)
       (Cartoon by Bill Day.)


“You been reading a lot of stuff about ‘Crime don’t pay.’ Don’t be a sucker! That’s for yaps and small-timers on shoestrings. Not for people like us. You belong in the big-shot class. Both of us do.” 
       James Cagney, as gangster Rocky Sullivan
       Lines spoken to actress Ann Sheridan in the 1938 film
Angels With Dirty Faces


“They say that crime doesn’t pay, but it’s a living, you know. Oh, yes, it’s a living...If it wasn’t for crime, the democratic process would grind to a halt.”  
Leo McKern, in his role as the irascible British barrister Horace Rumpole
       In the
“Play for Today” episode of the BBC television series Rumpole of the Bailey (first aired December 16, 1975)


“Crime does not pay – enough.”
       Motto of the
Mystery Writers of America association since it’s founding in 1945
       Credit for the motto is generally given to American mystery writer, editor and amateur magician
Clayton Rawson (1906-1971), one of the four founding members of the organization. (The others were novelists Anthony Boucher, Lawrence Treat, and Brett Halliday.) The Mystery Writers of America is the group that presents the Edgar Awards in various categories of mystery writing each year (named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe).


“If you’re young and tattooed, crime does pay.”  
       Kenneth Partridge 
       New York-based music journalist and critic
       His summation of the moral of the story told in the music video for Britney Spears’ 2011 song “Criminal,” in one of his posts on the now defunct AOL Music blog.
       The video features Spears and her heavily-tattooed boyfriend at the time, Jason Trawick, playing what Britney described as “a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde.” After robbing an unlucky small grocery store owner at gunpoint (with Britney brandishing the gun) they return to their hideaway to take a shower that’s steamy in more ways than one. Suddenly, the local coppers surround the place and shred the walls with machine guns. But, unlike the real Bonnie and Clyde, the amorous young thieves in the video manage to survive the hail of bullets and escape.
       Who says crimes against logic (and music and acting) don’t pay?

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